Benfica won their 32nd title on Sunday. They needed only a point from their home game against Rio Ave
but got all three, while closest rivals Sporting Braga could only draw 1-1 at Nacional.
In front of 64,103 at the Luz, Benfica charged out of the traps and grabbed Rio Ave by the throat from the off. On three minutes, top scorer Cardozo
beat Gaspar to a loose ball to poke home; Benfica were on their way. Their task against mid-table Rio Ave was made all the easier on ten minutes when Wires
was sent off for a senseless studs-up challenge on Ramires. Carlos kept out Saviola and Aimar with good saves, while Bruno Gama and Tarantini proved that Rio Ave could get near the Benfica goal.
Saviola headed in after Airton's shot had rebounded off the bar on 69 minutes, but the Argentinian's 'goal' was disallowed, rightly, for offside. Then two minutes later, a Silvino free-kick from deep was
headed home by Ricardo Chaves to put the cat amongst the pigeons: Braga were drawing 1-1 at Nacional and would have clinched the title if they could pull ahead and Rio Ave could get one more. But benfiquistas'
stress factors plummeted on 77 minutes and euphoria set in: an Aimar corner was headed goalwards by Airton, Gaspar half cleared and Cardozo was on hand to rifle the ball home. It was his 26th goal of the season, giving him the
Silver Ball for the Liga's top scorer, ahead of FC Porto's Radomir Falcao on 25. It is the first time a Benfica player has been top scorer since 1991, when Rui Águas took the trophy.
Benfica: Quim, Ruben Amorim, Luisão, David Luiz, César Peixoto, Airton, Carlos Martins (Maxi Pereira 65), Aimar, Ramires (Éder Luís 46), Cardozo, Saviola (Nuno Gomes 83).
Carlos, José Gomes, Gaspar, André Vilas Boas, Sílvio, Wires, Ricardo Chaves (Adriano 79), Tarantini, Bruno Gama, Bruno Moraes, Sidnei (Evandro 63)
There were scenes of jubilation in Lisbon but also in many parts of the country; Benfica fans took over the Rotunda de Boavista in Porto. In Lisbon, the focal points of Saldanha and
Marquês de Pombal were awash with the red of shirts and scarves, with upwards of a hundred thousand fans congregating to await the team bus, which arrived at around midnight.
Sporting Braga were behind at Nacional to an Edgar Silva goal on 51 minutes. Renteria
equalised three minutes later, but Braga were unable to go that extra yard, making the result in the Luz academic; even if Benfica had lost, they would have won the title.
Nacional: Bracali, Patacas, Halliche, Tomasevic, Nuno Pinto, Luís Alberto (Todorovic 10), Cléber, Amuneke (Juliano 34), Edgar Costa (Thiago Gentil 64), Diego Barcellos, Edgar Silva.
Sporting Braga: Eduardo, Filipe Oliveira, Moisés, Rodriguez, Evaldo, Alan, Madrid (Rafael Bastos 80), Luís Aguiar, Paulo César, Matheus (Renteria 54), Meyong (Hugo Viana 54).
Vitória de Guimarães
needed only to draw at home to Marítimo to clinch fifth spot and a place in the Europa League next season. But Marítimo won 2-1
and took the place themselves, also pipping Madeiran rivals Nacional to qualification. Valdomiro put Guimarães in front on 14 minutes, but impressive Brazilian forward Kléber, on 45 and 81 minutes,
turned the game around to lead Marítimo to the promised land.
Bruno Amaro returned after a long lay-off through injury to score ten minutes from time and give Académica a 1-0 victory over Naval. Acdémica climb to 11th, while Naval stay in
Paços de Ferreira and Olhanense drew 2-2. Romeu Torres put Paços in front, on five minutes, but Djalmir equalised on 42. The second half saw much the same, with
Candeias putting Paços back in front before Djalmir equalised again four minutes from time.
FC Porto had nothing to play for except their pride and the will to help Colombian striker Falcao to win the Silver Ball as the Liga's top scorer. They exited the season with their pride
intact and Falcao ahead of Benfica's Cardozo in the scoring rankings after an ultimately convincing 4-1 win at União de Leiria.
In front of just 2694 at the Leiria Municipal Stadium, it was União's Cássio
who scored first on 23 minutes, and the home side managed to hold onto the lead until half tie. But in the second half, Porto slipped up a gear and Guarín equalised on the hour, with Falcao
putting Porto in the lead three minutes later. Cristian Rodriguez, on as sub, extended the lead on 82 minutes, with Falcao getting his second from the spot three minutes from time.
União de Leiria:
Djuricic, Vítor Moreno (Carlão 66), Diego Gaúcho, Zé António, Paulo Vinícius, Marco Soares, André Santos, Ruben Brígido (Hugo Gomes 53), Silas, Patrick (Rafael Bitencourt 85), Cássio.
FC Porto: Beto, Miguel Lopes, Rolando, Nuno André Coelho, Alvaro Pereira, Fernando, Belluschi (Tomás Costa 80), Guarín, Valeri (Cristian Rodríguez 46), Hulk, Falcao.
Sporting bowed out of a less than famous campaign with a 2-1 win at Leixões. On 16 minutes, Pedro Silva went past four players before feeding Miguel Veloso
who scored. Ten minutes into the second half, it was Pedro Silva who made it two with a shot from outside the area. João Paulo
reduced the deficit on 81 minutes, but Leixões were unable to turn it round.
Leixões: Berger, Jean Sony, Fernando Alexandre, Joel, Antunes (Zé Manuel 46), Cauê, Seabra (Gallo 63), Hugo Morais, Fábio Espinho, Pouga, Braga (João Paulo 46).
Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Polga, Tonel, Grimi, João Moutinho, Pedro Silva (Pereirinha 62), Miguel Veloso, Matías Fernandez (Renato Neto 90), Yannick Djaló, Hélder Postiga (Saleiro 81).
Belenenses won 2-1 at Vitória de Setúbal and managed to leapfrog over Leixões into penultimate position; both were already relegated. Vitória were in front on six minutes through
Kazmierczak from the spot, but in the closing stages, Romário equalised on 78 minutes and André Almeida gave Belenenses the points on 83.
From the Liga de Honra (Liga Vitalis), Beira-Mar and Portimonense are promoted to the Liga. Beira-Mar beat bottom club Carregado 1-0, while the Algarve club return
to the top flight after 20 years, winning 1-0 at promotion rivals Oliveirense. Taça de Portugal finalists Desportivo de Chaves
are relegated to the third tier along with Carregado after losing 0-1 at home to Fátima.
Final day's results:
Trofense – Gil Vicente, 2-4
Freamunde – Penafiel, 1-3
Beira-Mar – Carregado, 1-0
Santa Clara – Desportivo das Aves, 2-0
Desportivo de Chaves – Fátima, 0-1
Varzim – Sporting de Covilhã, 1-0
Oliveirense – Portimonense, 0-1
Estoril – Feirense, 1-2
1. Beira-Mar, 54
2. Portimonense, 54
3. Feirense, 52
4. Santa Clara, 51
5. Oliveirense, 49
The decision on who wins the title will go to the wire after Benfica lost 3-1 to FC Porto
at the Dragão on Sunday. Benfica needed just a point from the game, or for second-placed Sporting Braga to fail to win their home game against Paços de Ferreira; neither happened.
The clássico at the Dragão was a typically tense affair, with hearts mostly ruling heads. Di Maria hit the bar on three minutes, but the most significant events in the first half – and possibly the race for the title – were the fruit of refereeing decisions. On five minutes, Di Maria and Fucile saw yellow cards for a midfield tussle; Di Maria's means that he will miss Benfica's last game against Rio Ave. On 12 minutes, Fábio Coentrão also saw a yellow; he will be out of the next game, too. Javi Garcia got a yellow on 40 minutes; another important gap in Benfica's line-up next Sunday. The Spanish midfielder's yellow came two minutes before Porto went in front, Belluschi's corner from the right met forcefully by
Bruno Alves's head to take Porto into the beak 1-0 up.
On 52 minutes, Fucile's early yellow came back to haunt him and his team as a second meant a red and Porto were down ten for the last 40 minutes. Porto were momentarily reeling on 56 as Luisão
beat Rolando in the tackle in the area before poking the ball wide of Beto's left hand. But it was only a momentary stutter: on 58, Belluschi won the ball on the edge of the area from a throw-in, the ball fell to
and he managed to shield it from Luisão before clipping it past Quim. Porto had a great chance to extend their lead on 73 minutes, with Guarín floating a shot in from 25 metres that pinged off the bar. But then on 83 minutes, they did extend it,
Belluschi nut-megging Aimar before cracking a dipping shot over Quim from the left of the area.
It was only Benfica's second defeat of the season, and their first in 19 games (since 31 October). Porto confirmed third place but are now unable to qualify for the Champions League.
FC Porto: Beto, Fucile, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Belluschi (Tomás Costa 93), Guarín, Fernando, Raul Meireles (Miguel Lopes 53), Hulk, Farías (Rodriguez 61)
Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, David Luiz, Fábio Coentrão, Ramires, Javi García (Aimar 63), Di María, Carlos Martins (Kardec 82), Saviola (Weldon 67), Cardozo
The result leaves the title depending on the last game of the season. Benfica will play Rio Ave at home while Braga will visit Nacional in Madeira. Benfica need only one point, while
Braga need to win to have any chance of the title. Whatever happens, they have clinched second place and qualification for the third and final qualifying round of the Champions League after beating
Paços de Ferreira 1-0 on Sunday.
Paços were a tough nut to crack, and Braga could only crack them with an illegal goal: on 55 minutes, Luís Aguiar crossed from the left with Meyong
in an offside position. The high ball was fumbled by Coelho in the Paços goal, and the Cameroonian forward was lurking to head in from close range.
Sporting Braga: Eduardo, Miguel Garcia, Moisés, Rodriguez, Evaldo, Madrid, Luís Aguiar, Alan (Rafael Bastos 90), Paulo César, Meyong (Hugo Viana 59), Matheus (Rentería 77).
Paços de Ferreira: Coelho, Baiano, Ricardo, Danielson, Maykon, Filipe Anunciação, Leonel Olímpio, Bruno di Paula (Romeu Torres 74), Candeias (Carlitos 74), Pizzi, Manuel José (Livramento 64).
Sporting clinched fourth place despite losing 0-1 at home to Naval. The only goal was scored on the counter by Fábio Júnior
on 63 minutes, heading in a Giuliano cross from the left. Sporting were booed off the park by a large number of the 16,000 diehards at Alvalade.
Sporting: Rui Patrício, João Pereira, Daniel Carriço, Tonel, Grimi (Pereirinha 68), Miguel Veloso, João Moutinho, Izmailov (Postiga 61), Matias Fernandez, Yannick, Liedson.
Naval: Peiser, Carlitos, Gómis, João Real, Diego, Camora, Lazaroni, Godeméche, Giuliano (Davide 79), Bolívia, Fábio Júnior (Michel 87).
Fifth spot, which gives the final Europa League place, is still open to three teams.
Vitória de Guimarães could only draw 0-0 at Rio Ave, but keep fifth for the time being.
Nacional are still in with a chance of Europe after drawing 3-3 at Académica. Nacional went in front in the first minutes through Diego Barcellos, but Hélder Cabral
levelled six minutes later with a free-kick. Nacional were back in front on 41 through Edgar Silva, with Manuel Fidalgo, on loan from Nacional, equalising for Académica on 74. Éder
made it 3-2 for Académica two minutes later, but João Aurélio took advantage of a terrible mistake from the Académica 'keeper to make it 3-3.
Nacional need to beat Sporting Braga
next week and hope that Madeiran neighbours Marítimo beat Guimarães.
But Marítimo are also in with a shout of Europe. They beat Vitória de Setúbal 2-0 with goals from Tchô on 17 minutes and Kléber
on 87. They need to beat Vitória de Guimarães away by two or more goals on the last day and hope that Nacional do not beat Sporting Braga at home.
Setúbal are safe, despite their defeat. Joining Belenenses on the downward trip to the Liga de Honra are Leixões, who lost 0-1 at Olhanense, also now safe. Veteran
striker Djalmir was the Algarve side's hero with the only goal on 87 minutes.
Already relegated Belenenses went out with a bang, beating União de Leiria 5-2 and denying Lito Vidigal's side the possibility of still challenging for Europe. Cássio
put Leiria in front on five minutes, with Lima equalising on eight. José Pedro made it 2-1 for Belenenses from the spot on 14, but Marco Soares
made it 2-2 just before the break. Belenenses ran riot in the second half, adding three goals through Mustafa (52), Miguelito (68) and André Pires
(78). It was only Belenenses' third win of the season.