Here we are. Round 24 out of 34 completed. Only ten more to go. This round was interesting an interesting one that saw Braga lose some momentum, Vitoria Guimaraes continue to struggle, and Porto push toward the top. Let’s take a closer look.
The action for the weekend began on Friday as Braga hosted Porto. Coming into this match, both teams were on lengthy undefeated stretches, and with both near the top of the table, this match promised much excitement. Cristian Tello’s second half goal was the deciding factor in the match, and the goal was fully deserved, as Porto were on top most of the match. Also in the match, Porto’s Jackson Martinez had to leave the pitch with a hamstring injury.
On Saturday, Vitoria Setubal and Belenenses played out to a 1-1 draw. Belenenses’s Pele scored a penalty early in the match, but Vitoria Setubal equalized midway through the first half through Joao Schmidt.
The bulk of the action from the round happened on Sunday, and the first match of the day was between Moreirense and Academica. Moreirense has been over-performing so far this season, and sit at a comfortable mid-table position as a result. Academica, on the other hand, are fighting for relegation. The result was somewhat of a surprise, as hosts Moreirense were overtaken by Academica 2-0, thanks to two late goals from Rui Pedro. That win sees Academica rise three points clear of the relegation zone.
Elsewhere, Maritimo hosted Pacos Ferreira. Maritimo were looking to improve on their recent mediocre form; form that saw their coach Leonel Pontes get fired for. Interim manager Ivo Vieira was at the helm for the match, as the team faced a sputtering Pacos Ferreira, whose form had been just as all over the place. The match saw 18 year-old Pacos midfielder Diogo Jota’s first start for the club. Maritimo took the lead early in the match through Antonio Xavier, but his goal was cancelled out by Pacos’s Seri on the 30 minute mark. Late in the second half, however, Theo Weeks scored for Maritimo, giving the team a priceless 2-1 victory.
Also on Sunday, relegation-fighting Arouca hosted league-leaders Benfica, in a largely predictable match. Somewhat surprisingly, the first goal of the match came from Arouca. Iuri Medeiros, currently on loan from Sporting, controlled a long ball, juked out his marker, and finished with ease in the seventh minute to give Arouca a surprise early lead. And even more surprisingly, Arouca held on until halftime. After halftime, Benfica coach Jorge Jesus substituted in the more attacking minded Anderson Talisca for the more defensive-minded Andreas Samaris. The switch clearly had the intended effect, as Benfica scored three unanswered goals, the first through Jonas, and the last two through Lima. Benfica’s 3-1 win sees them consolidate their lead at the top of the table.
In Sunday’s next match, Estoril and Gil Vicente played out to a 1-1 draw. Estoril’s promising early season form has vanished, so much so that the team has not won a Primeira Liga match since January 25th. Gil Vicente’s situation is largely opposite, with their current form slowly pulling them out of the relegation zone, where they found themselves thanks to a dreadful first half of the season. Estoril’s Seba opened the scoring early in the match, but Yazalde’s second half goal earned a vital point for Gil Vicente.
Also on Sunday, Boavista hosted Vitoria Guimaraes. Very little was expected of Boavista this season, as they were brand new to the top flight, after competing in Portugal’s lower leagues for a number of seasons. Despite this, Boavista found themselves at a respectable 13th place ahead of this match, while Vitoria Guimaraes sat at 5th. Despite sitting as high as they did, Vitoria’s form has begun to falter, and this match perfectly highlights the team’s loss of form. Despite being heavy favorites for this match, Vitoria Guimaraes succumbed to a 3-1 loss at the hands of Boavista. Vitoria’s Alex opened the scoring in the first half from the penalty spot, but Boavista scored three unanswered goals in the second half to claim the victory. Marek Cech struck first, before Michael Uchebo and Ze Manuel finished the rout.
On Monday, Rio Ave faced Nacional. Both teams have enjoyed successful seasons so far, finding themselves at comfortable mid-table positions. Martin Zeegelaar’s goal early in the second half gave Rio Ave the lead, but Nacional equalized quickly through Marco Matias to level the scores. That was how the game ended. A 1-1 draw.
In perhaps the most exciting fixture of the round, Sporting hosted Penafiel. On paper, the match-up was decidedly one-sided, with Sporting expected to win easily. And an easy win seemed to be on the cards after Sporting stormed to an early 2-0 lead within the first eight minutes. William Carvalho struck first to open the scoring, before Islam Slimani headed in a pin-point cross from Jefferson. But on the 10 minute mark, a sloppy backpass from Slimani put Penafiel’s Guedes through on goal. Tobias Figueiredo’s attempt to right the wrong resulted in a ill-timed tackle. Figueiredo was shown a straight red, meaning that Sporting had to play the remaining 80 minutes a man down. Penafiel responded brightly, scoring soon after through Braga and just before halftime through Vitor Bruno. In the second half, Nani scored the winning goal when he headed in a cross from Andre Carrillo, giving Sporting a priceless 3-2 win, as they look to stay relevant at the top of the table.
Top Performers of the week (according to ForaDeJogo.net player ratings)*
8: Ivan Marcano – Porto
8: Cristian Tello – Porto
8: Lima – Benfica
8: Rui Pedro – Academica
8: Antonio Xavier – Maritimo
8: Patrick Bauer – Maritimo
8: Ruben Ribeiro – Gil Vicente
8: Seba – Estoril
8: Marek Cech – Boavista
8: Brito – Boavista
8: Michael Uchebo – Boavista
8: Gottardi – Nacional
8: Nani – Sporting
8: William Carvalho – Sporting
Make sure to check out our Primeira Liga page, for an updated league table and top goalscorers list.