Belenenses secured three precious points Monday in their fight against relegation with a 2-0 win at home to Gil Vicente. Both goals were scored by Hugo Henrique
, just before the break and just before the end. He also missed a penalty.
FC Porto did what was expected of them Sunday and beat modest Moreirense 1-0 at the Estádio do Dragão, but they were made to work for it by a well organised Moreirense side, and the goal
only came in the dying minutes, sub Carlos Alberto
faking a foul outside the box and floating the resulting free-kick in off a post with the otherwise excellent João left standing. It was João who had fouled Benni McCarthy after just two minutes, but the South African striker shot poorly for the same João to save.
Benfica kept up the four point gap between them and Sporting with an easy 2-0 win over Alverca. Both goals came within twenty minutes of kick-off through Sokota and Luisão. Alverca
have lost three in a row and will have to start rowing quickly if they want to avoid the drop.
Rio Ave kept up their good run with a 1-1 draw at União de Leiria. Jaime scored for Rio Ave on 14 minutes, but Douala gave União a point on 66.
Vitória de Guimarães may just avoid the drop. They beat Beira-Mar 2-0 with goals from Medeiros in the first half and Kata
(own goal) in the second. From UEFA Cup contenders, Beira-Mar have slipped dramatically, with just three points from their last eight games.
Still challenging strongly for that UEFA Cup place are Sporting Braga, although they had to wait until five minutes from time for Foley to score and take the three points from poor old
Estrela da Amadora, this season's whipping boys.
Sporting kept their second-place intact Saturday with a difficult 1-0 win over lowly Paços de Ferreira, desperate to get points to avoid the drop. Paços had the best chances of the game, notably
through Zé Manuel, but a mixture of poor finishing and intrepid 'keeping from Ricardo kept their side of the scoreboard blank. Sporting, on the other hand, struggled to create very much and only scored with the help
of the linesman; Liedson was offside on 88 minutes when Niculae shot, the ball was parried by Pedro and Liedson took advantage of his position to knock the ball in.
The score was identical in Madeira where Nacional kept up their push for Europe against Boavista, also chasing a European place but losing ground fast; they are without a win in the last three,
coincidentally the games for which Jaime Pacheco has been in charge on his return. It was an abysmal game, marked by two clueless teams and a gale force wind that made sensible football very difficult. Rossato
broke the stalemate five minutes from time with a free kick that William saw late.
Académica took a step away from relegation Friday with a 2-0 win at home against Marítimo, who took a step back from possible UEFA Cup qualification. Fredy on 20 minutes and Joeano
20 minutes from the end did the job. Marítimo's Wênio was sent off on 65. Académica are now four points clear of the drop zone.
Belenenses played for the point on their visit to Moreirense Monday and got it with a 0-0
draw. They could, however, really have done with the three as they are left just one point above the drop zone that now contains Paços de Ferreira, Vitória de Guimarães and Estrela da Amadora. Moreirense remain safely tenth.
Benfica left it late to score the goal that gave them three points at Beira-Mar Sunday. Nuno Gomes, who had come on as sub for Zahovic on the hour, drove a low shot past Marriot a quarter of an
hour from the end after good work from former Beira-Mar midfielder Fernando Aguiar. Three minutes later, Benfica's young winger João Perreira was sent off for a foul from behind on Juninho Petrolina, which left
Benfica holding on to the score until the end.
The three points take Benfica to within four point of second-placed local arch rivals Sporting, who slumped to a 0-4 defeat at Rio Ave Saturday. Second place gives a shot at the Champions League and so is a
precious prize. After a bright first half to the season, Beira-Mar have lost five of their last half a dozen games and appear to be waving goodbye to Europe.
In with a good chance of a UEFA Cup spot are Sporting Braga, who went to top-of-the-table rivals Boavista
and grabbed a point to climb above Nacional into fourth. Nacional's home game with FC Porto has been postponed until April 14th. Braga's tussle with Boavista was just that, but for a change there was little vindictiveness on show. Nor was there much football, however, and it wasn't until the 68th minute when
turned Filipe Anunciação on the left, made room for himself and banged his shot into the roof of the net off the crossbar. Braga had little time to enjoy their lead; four minutes later, Nem put a suicidal ball across the face of his own defence and
Ricardo Sousa, hardly believing his luck, took the ball on and knocked it past Quim for 1-1. An improved Boavista under returning Jaime Pacheco are six pooints behind Braga but still with an outside
chance of Europe.
At the bottom of the table, Académica took a small leap away from danger with a 1-0 win at Gil Vicente, Joeano scoring early in the second half.
Paços de Ferreira also did their case no harm with a 1-0 win at home against doomed Estrela da Amadora. Fernando Gaúcho got the vital goal on the half-hour.
Alverca are not out of the woods yet and can't afford many more results like Sunday's: a 1-4 home defeat at the hands of União de Leiria. UDLwere three-up by the break through Edson
(2) and Douala. Alverca pulled one back on 67 through Zé Rui, but their central defender Marco Almeida
put through his own goal five minutes from time to make the score look even worse for his side.
Sporting's challenge for the title went into meltdown mode Saturday with a spectacular 0-4 collapse at Rio Ave, who are now pushing for a UEFA Cup place. Rio Ave were three-up by half-time
through Evandro, Jaime and Paulo César, and put an extra dollop of icing on the cake a quarter of an hour from the end with a second from Evandro, his 14th of the season.
Sporting coach Fernando Santos looked shell-shocked but was realistic after the game: "We underestimated Rio Ave ... Only a catastrophe could take the title away from FC Porto now." Porto
are seven points ahead of Sporting with a game in hand. Worringly for the 'Lions', they must now also look over their shoulders at an improving Benfica
who will only be four points behind if they win at Beira-Mar Sunday.
Vitória de Guimarães won a precious point towards their fight for SuperLiga survival Friday when they drew 1-1 at Marítimo, themslves in need of points to achieve UEFA Cup qualification.
Nuno Assis put the visitors in front on 24 minutes, but Souza ensured a point for the Madeiran side on the hour.
FC Porto's visit to Madeira to play Nacional, scheduled for this weekend, has been postponed until April 14th to allow Porto to prepare for next week's Champions League clash against Lyon.
Sporting at least kept track with FC Porto Monday with a predictable win over Alverca at home (2-0). In fact the goals were difficult to come by, but they came eventually; On the half-hour,
broke free in midfield, took a few strides forwards and drove in a shot that deflected of central defender Marco Almeida, formerly of Sporting, to flat-foot the otherwise excellent Frenchman Yannick in the Alverca goal. Two minutes from time, Rochemback took a free-kick from the edge of the penalty area on the right and
got free to head past Yannick. Sporting remain seven points behind Porto, and seven points in front of Benfica, who are in third. The game became very bad-tempered as it wore on in the second half, and Alverca's Veríssimo was sent off for a supposed aggression (that didn't actually happen) on Niculae.Alverca remain near the top of the lower half of the table.
Benfica suffered Sunday to get past a resolute Marítimo defence at the Luz (in front of only 18,000 fans) but eventaully came out 1-0 winners thanks to a penalty five minutes from time by Simão
after Pepe had handled in the area. The win puts them within four points of second-placed Sporting, but the Lions have a game in hand (at home to Alverca Monday).
Things continue to look very complicated for Vitória de Guimarães at the bottom of the table, this time defeated 0-2 at home by Gil Vicente, who climb into relative mid-table safety. Yuri,
on loan from Boavista, got one on 18 minutes and another a minute from time.
Académica missed a great chance to pull away from Vitória with a disastrous 0-3 home defeat to Moreirense. Sérgio Lomba and Tito
put the visitors in the driving seat just before the break, and Castro confirmed the three points a quarter of an hour before the end.
Rio Ave lodged themsleves firmly in the top half of the table with a 4-1 win at down-and-out Estrela da Amadora. A twenty-minute period in the second half saw Rio Ave four-nil up through
Julio César (2), Evandro and Gama, while Ibraima
got the consolation for Estrela five minutes from time. There were just 500 at the Reboleira stadium to witness Estrela's humiliation; the team has conceded 59 goals in 26 games.
Beira-Mar continue on a downward spiral, losing this time 1-2 at União de Leria. Hugo Almeida, on loan from FC Porto, put União in front on 12 minutes, João Paulo
equalised on 17 but Renato got what proved to be the winner ten minutes from half-time.
The dog fight at the wrong end of the table now officially includes Belenenses went down Saturday at home to Nacional. Minute 13 was unlucky for Belenenses, Serginho
popping up to net. Nacional are now fourth and looking serious contenders for a UEFA Cup place.
The teams most likely to drop with Estrela da Amadora are two from Belenenses, Académca, Vitória de Guimarães and Pacos de Ferreira. The latter lost 1-2 at Sporting Braga
, who join Nacional in equal fourth. Geraldo put through his own goal just before the break to give Braga the lead, Zé Manuel equalised on 50 minutes but on 67, former FC Porto striker Pena
got the winner.
Everyone else are also-rans to top team FC Porto who inevitably beat local rivals Boavista 1-0
Saturday in front of 42,000 at the Estádio do Dragão. An organised Boavista, under returning coach Jaime Pacheco, kept Porto at bay in the first half, but collapsed in the second and ultimately lost to a McCarthy
strike twenty minutes from time (see match report).
Rio Ave drew 0-0 at home to Sporting Braga Monday in the last game of the 25th day. Braga re-established their 4th place, while Rio Ave consolidated their mid-table position.
The status quo was maintained at the top of the SuperLiga Sunday with Benfica winning 2-1 at Gil Vicente. Brazilian winger Geovanni put Benifca in front on the half hour with a golaço;
Armando took the ball to the line on the right, clipped it back and Geovanni was running in to crack a superb drive home from the edge of the box, with Gil ´keeper Paulo Jorge helpless. Braima
equalised from outside the area on 66 minutes, but young sub Manuel Fernandes
scored his first goal in a Benfica shirt 12 minutes from time. Benfica remain seven points behind sporting and 14 behind FC Porto. Gil remain mid-table but must now look over their shoulders ...
Madeiran side Nacional are, at least temporarily, in fourth after beating Académica 2-1 at the difficult Choupana stadium. But it was Académica who took the lead, Fábio Felício
scoring from the spot. Only Nacional are a hard nut to crack these days, and sure enough, they came back in the second half with two goals from the inevitable Adriano, the SuperLiga's top scorer with
17. Académica's 'keeper Pedro Roma was sent off twenty minutes from time for handling outside the area. His team are sitting just above the water line.
It was another 'keeper who scored the strangest goal of the day in Vitória de Guimarães' draw at Moreirense. Vitória's French 'keeper Palatsi
gave his team the lead in the first half whem he saw his opposite number João off his line and punted the ball over him and in. Armando
got an equaliser midway through the second half to leave Vitória in the bottom three. Moreirense are in a comfortable mid-table position.
Marítimo trail their Madeiran rivals Nacional by two points after they dropped two at home to União de Leiria. Two goals within a minute midway through the first half left the teams at 1-1,
Van der Gaag putting Marítimo ahead, Douala equalising, and the Cameroonian forward put the visitors in front just before the break. A quarter of an hour into the second half, Rincón
saved a point for Marítimo.
At the bottom of the table, Estrela da Amadora have all but thrown the towel in. This time they went down 0-3 at Alverca, who thus continue to draw away from the drop zone. Vargas
with two and Zeferino did the damage. Estrela have now conceded 55 goals in 25 games.
Sporting kept alive the faint glimmer of hope of winning the title with a 2-0 win at Beira-Mar
Saturday. The game was up within a minute and before ten minutes had ticked away. First Liedson was fouled in the box by Toni, Pedro Barbosa
slotting home from the spot, and then Tello crossed from the left for Rochemback
to loop a rare header in. The rest of the game was a scrappy affair and, perhaps fortunately, almost entirely invisible in the last half hour as the fog came down. Sporting are the same seven points adrift of FC Porto, while Beira-Mar, with only one point in the last four games, still remain in touch with the pack chasing a UEFA Cup place.
Boavista dropped another two points at home to struggling Paços de Ferreira. Cafu
headed Boavista in front as early as the seventh minute from a Ricardo Sousa corner, but Paços were level on 28 when the impressive Manduca, also with a header, popped up at the back post to beat William
from a Zé Manuel cross. The home fans whistled the team off the pitch at the end of the game, and the Boavista Board subsequently announced that they were firing coach Erwin Sanchez (see general news).
FC Porto breezed through their SuperLiga game Friday with one eye on the Champions League. Belenenses were the victims this time, 4-1. McCarthy
got two, one on either side of the break. Belenenses claimed that he fouled Filgueira for the first, and that the second, a penalty, came from an inexistent foul by Wilson on Sérgio Conceição.
Belenenses coach Augusto Ignácio
also questioned the criteria used to dish out yellow cards. Certainly, Filgueira got one in the first half for a foul identical to the one that Jorge Costa committed on Antchouet in the second, without seeing a card. And Costinha and Maniche escaped cards for veritable aggressions on the legs of Belenenses players.
But Porto's dominance was never in question, and this was rammed home by Ricardo Costa on 64 minutes and Deco on 83. Brasília
got a consolation for Belenenses on the stroke of time, but it was just that: a consolation. The club is perilously close to the drop zone and will soon have to start picking up serious points.
FC Porto coach José Mourinho
was pleased with the performance and also that most of the key players came through the game unscathed, in view of the important game on Tuesday against Manchester United. But, he said: "... our main objective is the SuperLiga.
We've done our bit in the Champions League ... although we have legitimate aspirations of going though."
FC Porto maintained their unbeaten run and took a step of three more points towards yet another title Monday with a difficult but, and this is the key, inevitable win over improving Académica
in front of 20,000 at the Municipal Stadium in Coimbra. Benni McCarthy
got the only goal a quarter of an hour from the end with a free-kick from just outside the area that deflected wildly off Flávio Dias in the wall to leave the otherwise excellent Pedro Roma flat-footed. Porto are now seven points ahead of Sporting, Académica still perilously close to the drop.
Goals were apparently rationed Monday because in the other game there were none, Alverca sneaking a point at Sporting Braga.
Benfica dropped two points at home to modest Moreirense Sunday to fall seven points behind second-placed Sporting, this on the weekend when the club celebrated 100 years
of existence. There was only one team in it for most of the game, but the one-way traffic could not be converted into goals until the 55th minutes, rugged midfielder Fernando Aguiar
heading in from a Petit free-kick. Benfica's inability to net was their downfall, Demétrios
equalising from a Tito cross four miutes from the final whistle. He had little time to feel good about his goal, however; two minutes later he saw a second yellow, but even then Benfica were unable to take advantage of their numerical superiority in the five minutes remaining.
It was one of three draws on the day. Beira-Mar's quest for a UEFA Cup place has been stuttering in recent weeks, and Sunday was no exception. Visiting the 'red lantern' Estrela da Amadora, Miran
and Junininho Petrolina
were the main protagonists. The former gave Estrela the lead on 13 minutes, the latter equalised on 36, the former renewed the lead on 54 minutes and the latter saved Beira-Mar's blushes two minutes from the end. Beira-Mar could have jumped to fourth but are now in seventh on equal points with Boavista. There were just 800 spectators at Reboleira to witness the thrills, however.
União de Leiria were two down at home to Gil Vicente with goals from Luís Loureiro (penalty) and Gaspar
near the end of the first and second halves respectively, but right on time and four minutes into added time União found the inspiration to draw level through Edson and João Paulo.
The only team to win on the day was Rio Ave, who plunged a disappointing Paços de Ferreira into deeper trouble at the foot of the table. Evandro got a very early goal (two minutes), Puntas
pulled Paços back from the brink on 73 but Evandro pushed them over two minutes later with his second of the game, 11th of the season. Paços are second from bottom on 20 points.