Archive for the ‘Match Review’ Category

Sporting-Benfica

Lisbon derbys always draw up a lot of excitement in the Portuguese capital. Jorge Jesus’ sensational move from Benfica to Sporting in the summer just added fuel to the already tense rivalry between the two sides. When the final whistle was heard at the Estádio da Luz on Sunday, Jesus had earned the last laugh with a 3-0 victory against his former club.

Despite a positive start for the home side, Sporting managed to grab an early lead when Colombian striker Teo Gutiérrez was able to get on the end of a long pass by Adrien. In the 21st minute, Islam Slimani scored with a thunderous header from a Jefferson cross. And later in the 1st half, Bryan Ruiz pounced on a rebound to put Sporting up 3-0.

Jorge Jesus’ return to the Estádio da Luz could not have gone more to plan. The loss will no doubt sting Benfiquistas supporters as much as it enthralls Sportinguistas.

It was Benfica’s first loss at home in a league match since a 3-2 defeat to FC Porto on 2 March, 2012, ending a run of 55 matches unbeaten. The result also had a far-reaching impact when it comes to the title race. Sporting now sit alone at the top of the table with 20 points after eight matchdays. Benfica remain eight points back, but have played one fewer match than their rivals.

Last year’s champions have now lost the first three matches of the season against the other two members of the ‘Big Three.’ But Benfica will get an opportunity to avenge this loss when they face Sporting again in Portuguese Cup action on 21 November.

What the managers said

Sporting manager Jorge Jesus:

“I did not expect to win 3-0. Did I believe Sporting would win. Yes. But not 3-0.”

“I am very happy to earn three points at the Estádio da Luz, especially considering the environment surrounding this match. I have a lot of respect for our opponents and Benfica. But, I want to give Sporting a lot of credit for the way they played. It is not easy to win 3-0 here.”

“There is a lot of pride in this victory. I spent six years at Benfica and played Sporting 14 times. Sporting only won once. Since I arrived here, we have played Benfica twice and won twice.”

“It was a brilliant victory at a place where I had some brilliant games and brilliant years…I am used to having great moments here [at the Luz]. Sporting played a great match.”

Benfica manager Rui Vitoria:

“It was a very unusual match. We created pressure in the Sporting zone to start, but after a fortunate bounce, they scored. That got into our player’s heads. Afterwards, we raised our game again, but Sporting scored a second and a third. It was a very unjust match because we thought that we were playing well. Sporting really took their opportunities.”

“I have gone through much worse professionally and personally. We do not want to go through moments like this but it is part of the growing process. We need to remember that we are Benfica and at this club we fight until the very end.”

“It is important to know that when we lose we need to be able to analyze. I have gone through a lot but this is one of the worst results I have been a part of.”

FC Porto held by Braga

FC Porto missed their chance to catch Sporting in the late match on Sunday. Julen Lopetegui’s side were unable to solve Braga and had to settle for a scoreless draw. They now sit in 2nd spot, two points behind Sporting. After the match, Lopetegui downplayed the significance.

“We are going into the 9th matchday. There is still a lot of time left. We are on a positive path and if we continue, we will be champions in the end.”

“We put a lot of players forward [against Braga]. We finished the match with three defenders and only one midfielder. We were in control throughout the match. But if we do not score, football will punish you.”

It was another positive result for Paulo Fonseca’s Braga club. Os Arsenalistas beat French giants Olympique Marseille in the Europa League on Thursday to bring their group stage record to three wins from three. The draw at the Estádio do Dragão means they sit in 4th position in the Primeira Liga.

In other action, Rio Ave gave up a late lead to Estoril and drew 2-2. Both clubs finished the match with ten men. Pedro Martins’ side remain in third place. Belenenses’ moved up to 10th in the table after a 1-0 victory against União da Madeira in the Monday night match. Second half substitute Tiago Caeiro scored in the 90th minute to give his team the victory.

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Fanny Schertzer

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Fanny Schertzer

Paulo Bento’s Portugal squad went into Wednesday’s friendly against Holland with a renewed sense of optimistic after an important win against Russia in World Cup qualifying in June.

The squad was missing some familiar faces with Nani, Joao Moutinho and Raul Meireles all withdrawing due to injuries. Manager Paulo Bento fielded a makeshift midfield that included Miguel Veloso, Ruben Amorim and Ruben Micael.

Luis Neto started in place of Bruno Alves who would come into the match as a late substitute. Zenit St. Petersburg’s Danny started on the wing, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and striker Helder Postiga. Beto also started in goal instead of Rui Patricio.

The match began brightly for the Oranje, with Louis van Gaal’s squad getting the better opportunities in the opening minutes.

In the 17th minute, Dynamo Kyiv winger Jeremain Lens would find AS Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman just outside the box. Strootman delivered a world-class strike which beat Beto.

Portugal would counter with a few opportunities of their own. Ruben Micael had the best opportunity before the half striking a good opportunity inside the box just wide of the goal.

Olympiakos midfielder Paulo Machado would replace Ruben Micael at half-time. The change gave the Seleção a determination not seen in the first-half. The squad dominated in terms of possession and chances in the second half.

They were finally rewarded for their hard work in the 87th minute when Pepe deflected a Miguel Veloso corner kick in front of goal. Cristiano Ronaldo scored with a clinical finish, giving Portugal a well-deserved draw.

The match was not the best news that Portuguese fans received on Wednesday. Northern Ireland beat Russia 1-0 in a group F World Cup qualifying match. The result means that Portugal remains in first place with three matches left.

The Seleção will face Northern Ireland in Belfast on September 6th.

Video:

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Tying Goal Against Holland

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Defensive woes were Portugal’s undoing as Edgar Borges’ Under-20 squad fell to Ghana in the round of 16 on two late goals.

Borges’ squad began the match positively in the opening minutes when Bruma set up Aladje for an excellent chance, only to see the striker miss the open net. But Ghana proved to be a stubborn opponent until the end.

In the 19th minute, Ghana’s Kennedy Ashia fired an excellent shot from 30 yards away into the top corner of the net. Ghana went into half-time with the upper hand.

But Portugal did not quit. The Portuguese tested the Ghanaian backline on several occasions in the early stages of the second half. In the 71st minute, Portugal finally broke through when defender Tiago Ferreira fired in a loose ball in the box to even the score.

Moments later, Edgar Ié heads in a brilliant cross from Ricardo Esgaio, giving Portugal the lead. It would be short lived.

In the 79th minute, Sporting’s Tiago Ilori fails to clear a dangerous ball in front of goalkeeper José Sá. Michael Anaba scores to even the score with ten minutes left to play.

In the 85th minute, Richmond Boakye scored off a free-kick deep in the Portuguese zone to give Ghana the victory.

Manager Edgar Borges said after the match that Portugal did enough to win against Ghana and were unlucky to be eliminated. “We felt like the game was on our side and that we deserved to win.”

“Portugal began the match very well, we had two or three good opportunities from the start. Their goalkeeper played very well and deserves credit,” Borges added.

“We dreamed and we fulfilled our obligation by passing the group stage, but we never promised a title because in these elimination matches anything could happen. Therefore, I have to assume the entire responsibility for this result.”

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Portugal demonstrated that they were a team to be reckoned with at this year’s under-20 World Cup after an impressive 5-0 defeat of Cuba. The Seleção win group B will now await the results of other matches to find out who they will face in the round of 16.

After two unconvincing games against Nigeria and South Korea, Edgar Borges’ Portugal were clinical in front of the Cuban goal and more stable at the back. Leading the way again was Sporting Lisbon’s Bruma who scored twice and assisted on goals by Aladje and Ricardo Pereira.

Borges went back to the forward trio of Aladje, Ricardo Pereira and Bruma up front against Cuba. In midfield, FC Porto’s Tozé received his first start of the tournament in place of André Gomes. Tiago Ferreira replaced Edgar Ié in central defence, while João Cancelo replaced Tomás Dabó at right-back.

In the 15th minute of play, Bruma found some room on the left side and crossed the ball to Ricardo Pereira who scored. Bruma would set up a goal by Aladje in the 37th minute before scoring just before the half.

In the second half, Bruma scored his fifth goal in the tournament off a great cross into the box by Tiago Silva. Tozé would score in the 69th minute, giving Portugal a convincing 5-0 victory over Cuba.

VIDEO: Highlights: Portugal 5 – Cuba 0 (U20 World Cup)

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Defensive mistakes continue to plague Portugal, as Edgar Borges’ U20 squad drew 2-2 with North Korea on Monday in Turkey. The Seleção will need a win against Cuba on Thursday to go through the group stage in first-place.

Borges made a few changes to the squad that beat Nigeria on Friday. Sporting Lisbon’s Tiago Ilori replaced Tiago Ferreira in central defense. Barcelona’s Agostinho Cá replaced Ricardo Alves in midfield, while Ricardo Esgaio started on the wing, in place of Ricardo Pereira.

The match began well for Portugal, when Alaje scored off a brilliant cross from João Mário. The Seleção continued to press the South Koreans, with Bruma and Aladje looking the most dangerous in the first half hour of play.

But South Korea gradually came into the match in the last ten minutes of the first half. Just before half-time, Seung-Woo Ryu got in between Ilori and Edgar Ié, delivering a brilliant shot that goalkeeper José Sá could not handle.

Portugal began the second-half with a sustained period of pressure. In the 60th minute, Bruma fired a hard shot just outside the box that eluded Korean goalkeeper Chang-Geun Lee. It was the Sporting Lisbon winger’s third goal in two matches.

After a series of poor clearing attempts, Hyun Kim was able to score inside the box to level the score at 2-2 with 15 minutes left.

After the match, manager Edgar Borges stressed that Portugal must start taking advantage of good scoring opportunities.

“It was a very competitive match, with each club playing a different style of football. What made the difference was the efficiency of the South Korean offense. In three good scoring opportunities, they scored two goals. We had many more opportunities, but we did not capitalize on the majority of our chances,” he said of his team’s performance.

“Korea was not surprising, nor did they demonstrate anything that we did not already know. The truth is that they played their game very well,” he added.

VIDEO: Bruma’s Goal Against South Korea At U20 World Cup

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Two goals by Sporting Lisbon’s Bruma helped Portugal beat Nigeria 3-2 in group B action at the U20 World Cup in Turkey.

Manager Edgar Borges fielded a starting XI with an attacking force of Aladje as the striker along side Bruma and FC Porto’s new signing Ricardo Pereira. Maritimo’s José Sá started in goal and made a number of outstanding saves at key periods of the match.

Benfica’s André Gomes started in midfield, alongside Sporting Lisbon’s João Mário and Belenenses’ Ricardo Alves. Noticeably missing from the match was Sporting’s central defender Tiago Ilori whose father is Nigerian.

After a nervous start by both clubs, the Seleção were the first to strike at the half-hour mark. Sporting Lisbon’s João Mário put Bruma in on goal and he made no mistake putting Portugal ahead. A few minutes later, the Nigerian goalkeeper mishandled a shot by Ricardo Pereira. Aladje was able to score easily on the rebound.

Portugal went into half-time with a comfortable 2-0 lead despite some defensive mistakes and careless giveaways by the midfield. The problems continued early in the second half and Nigeria made them pay. Abdul Ajagun would score in the 57th and 67th minute of play to even the score.

Nigeria’s hopes would soon be dashed when second half substitute Ricardo Esgaio set up Bruma for his second of the night. Edgar Borges’ team held on the rest of the way to open the U20 World Cup with a win.

Borges said after the match that he was happy with the victory, but stressed that the squad needs to minimize give aways and tighten up defensively. “I am very satisfied with the victory, but the truth is that it could have been an easier win. Nigeria are an excellent squad and caused us many problems,” Borges said.

“I would have prefered not to have conceded so many goals to the opposition, but we still did enough to win. The victory was entirely deserving.”

Portugal will play South Korea on Monday. A victory would assure them a position in the knock-out stage.

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Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Fanny Schertzer

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Fanny Schertzer

The Seleção continued their run of impressive form by beating Croatia 1-0 in an international friendly on Monday in Geneva. The win comes just days after Paulo Bento’s club defeated Russia in a crucial World Cup qualifying match.

Paulo Bento fielded a squad that was a mixture of regular starters and bench players. Although Fábio Coentrão, João Moutinho and Cristiano Ronaldo started the match. Eduardo received a rare start in goal over Rui Patricio.

The Seleção began the match brightly, creating several good chances in the opening half hour. In the 36th minute, Cristiano Ronaldo took control of the ball just outside the box and struck a good shot past Croatian goalkeeper Danijel Subašić.

The goal was a well deserved one for Portugal’s captain after inspiring displays in back-to-back matches for the national team. Ronaldo was unlucky not to score another before half-time after a brilliantly executed header bounced off the crossbar and out.

With Ronaldo substituted at half-time, the second half saw a more balanced display from both teams, with good chances being rare on both sides. Croatia was unable to challenge Eduardo in any meaningful way and Portugal held on for the deserving victory.

FC Porto defender Sereno and Sporting Lisbon midfielder Andre Martins would receive their first international caps after coming on as second half substitutes. Portugal will go into the summer break with a renewed sense of confidence after several strong performances.

Paulo Bento looked noticeably pleased with his club’s performance after the final whistle and praised his club’s recent positive form to journalists after the match.

“That makes it three consecutive victories in different contexts: two official matches, with Azerbaijan and Russia, and today in a different context, which could be difficult sometimes especially in the last match of the campaign. But it was a good response from a group that demonstrated coesion and allowed me to use every player over the last two matches.”

“It was also the third straight game that we did not concede a goal. We did not allow many chances, despite there being a few moments in the first half. We faced a good team, but I think the outcome was very well deserved.”

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Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Ilja Chochłow

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Ilja Chochłow

An early goal by Hélder Postiga gave Portugal an important 1-0 win over Russia at the Estádio da Luz on Friday. The win means that the Seleção temporarily move into first place in Group F ahead of Russia. Although, Fabio Capello’s Russian side have played two fewer matches at this point.

Manager Paulo Bento fielded a squad that was missing Real Madrid defender Pepe who was suspended for the match. Zenit St.Petersburg’s Luis Neto lined up alongside Bruno Alves at the centre of defense and was very impressive. Also, Wolfsburg’s Vieirinha was a surprise starter in place of Nani.

After several mediocre displays in recent matches, Portugal began the match playing with great purpose and never really took their foot off the pedal. In the 8th minute of play, Cristiano Ronaldo made a dangerous run and was brought down about 35 yards away from goal earning a free kick.

Miguel Veloso delivered a dangerous ball into the box which Hélder Postiga deflected into the net. It was the start that Paulo Bento and the legion of Portuguese fans were desperately looking for. The Seleção did not ease the pressure creating several good scoring chances before the end of the half.

Fabio Capello’s Russia side looked noticeably disjointed, struggling to maintain possession and rarely troubling Rui Patricio throughout most of the match. Cristiano Ronaldo had the best opportunities for Portugal but was unable to score despite some good shots on goal. João Moutinho was behind most of Portugal’s threats.

Portugal manager Paulo Bento spoke about the squad’s performance to journalists after the match.

“We played a very balanced game and maintained a good amount of pressure over our opponents. We started the match well, and had our moments of quality which resulted in us gaining an advantage. We did have problems clearing the ball out of dangerous areas on occasion but we were able to play an intelligent game and reached our objective by winning,” Bento told media.

“The motivation you get by representing the Seleção should be enough. We had a terrific attitude throughout the 90 minutes and a good mentality in comparison to the match against Israel. It is important to continue to work hard because we have not achieved anything.”

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Vitória Guimarães defeated Benfica 2-1 in the finals of the Portuguese Cup on Sunday afternoon, giving the Cidade Berço club its first trophy in history. In contrast, the loss means a season without a trophy for Jorge Jesus’ Benfica club which will only put more pressure on club president Luís Filipe Vieira to make major changes.

Over a two-week period, Benfica conceded the domestic league to rivals FC Porto, lost to Chelsea in the Europa League finals and lost in the finals in the Portuguese Cup. Benfica’s fans hope for a historic treble have quickly turned to tragedy.

The match at Estádio Nacional in Jamor, near Lisbon began well for the favourites when Vitória defender Kanú’s clearance went in off Nicolas Gaitán to give Benfica the advantage at the half-hour mark. Benfica seemed in control at the half but disaster would soon strike.

Late in the second half, Benfica goalkeeper Artur’s poor clearance attempt fell to Vitoria’s Crivellaro in the middle of the pitch who passed it on to Soudani for the tying goal. Just moments later, Vitoria winger Ricardo Pereira did well to dribble past several Benfica defenders and fired a decent shot on goal. Artur misread the ball and it trickled in to give Vitória Guimarães the win.

Man of the Match Ricardo, along with teammate Tiago Rodrigues was playing his final match for the club after completing a transfer to FC Porto several weeks ago. The match did not lack drama after the final whistle either. Benfica striker Oscar Cardozo would confront and shove manager Jorge Jesus before he was restrained by several teammates.

Benfica’s disasterous finish to the season will unfortunately overshadow the terrific accomplishments by manager Rui Vitória and his young Vitória Guimarães squad. The Minho club who are based in the birthplace of Portugal’s first king win their first trophy in its 91 year history.

“We always believed in ourselves. The Benfica goal was unjust, because it went off a shoulder. At the half, we were very calm, I told the squad that we just had to raise our intensity. The young players deserve to be congratulated. We have some great talent. A large number of Portuguese do not know Guimarães but today we showed what it means to win,” manager Rui Vitória told RTP 1 television.

Guimarães striker Amido Baldé, who is another young player linked to a move abroad praised the club’s character. “We are fully deserving of this because of all the hard work we put in this season. We are very happy. We are a hard-working and humble squad.”

It was also a special accomplishment for former Benfica and Wolfsburg defender Alex who despite not playing in the final was a big part of the young club’s success this season. The 33-year-old captained the squad and is credited with mentoring many of its good young players.

“This was a hardworking squad, with a great amount of personal quality as well who were always well prepared for its opponents. What I often said to them was not always what they wanted to hear, but they never backed down from adversity on the pitch. I will always cherish this squad in my heart. It was a great pleasure and privilege to captain Vitória Sport Club in a year that will live on forever,” Alex said after the win.

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FC Porto were officially crowned Portuguese league champions for the third year in a row after a 2-0 defeat of Paços de Ferreira on Sunday. The championship was the 27th in club victory, which now leaves them five shy of the most in domestic football. It was also Porto’s ninth championship in 11 seasons in total.

A penalty by Lucho González in the first half was followed up by Jackson Martínez early in the second half to give Porto the title on the final day of the domestic league. The victory meant that FC Porto goes undefeated in the league for the second time in three seasons. It was the final chapter of one of the most exciting campeonato in recent memory.

Vitor Pereira’s club went into the second last match of the campaign on May 11th against leaders Benfica knowing that anything less than a win would likely mean conceding the domestic league to their great rivals. A late goal by 19 year-old substitute Kelvin put Porto ahead in the match and in the league.

It looked unlikely in February and March when an injury to midfielder João Moutinho lead to Porto dropping points against Olhanense, Sporting Lisbon and Marítimo. Not to mention, being eliminated from the Champions League by Málaga. But Os Dragões did not quit. They would win the next seven league matches to surpass Benfica.

Porto manager Vitor Pereira praised his club’s determination and resiliency throughout the season. “We have shown that in crucial moments we never gave up and we came out in front. This was the case last season as well,” he told media after the match.

Pereira has been linked to Everton as a possible replacement for David Moyes. When asked about his future, he was reluctant to discuss any potential move. “I do not want to talk about myself but the players instead. It has been a great privilege to work with them. It is them who deserve the credit for this title.”

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