Football

Porto need late goal to overcome Benfica

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With five minutes to go, Benfica would have been pleased with their night's work. They hadn't managed to breakthrough Porto's stern defence, yet they had defended well and created some promising opportunities. Unfortunately for them, they didn't manage to preserve their pleasure until the final whistle; Andre Andre bagged in the 86th minute to give Porto a massive win in the Primeira Liga.

Easy league puts more pressure on the game

Top of the table clashes like this one aren't exactly must win games, however, when the rest of the league is sub-standard like Portugal's top league is, Porto and Benfica don't drop points too often. So when the games against one another come around - the importance is never underestimated. 

Porto's win puts them four points clear of Benfica, which may not seem like a lot in most leagues around Europe, but Portugal is different to the rest of Europe in that regard. Four points is a seismic gap even at this stage of the season. Whereas Manchester City are struggling at home to West Ham, Porto's next game is against Moreirense (don't worry, we haven't heard of them either). There's no chance of an upset there.

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Weakened sides

The standard of the match wasn't what we've come to expect of these Portuguese giants; the intricate passing and breathtaking skill synonymous with Portuguese football was replaced with scrappy battles and reliance on set-pieces.

Porto were slightly the better side, but struggled to turn their superiority into chances. They hadn't really tested Julio Cesar in the Benfica goal until the final ten minutes, a combination of wasteful passing and organised Benfica defending frustrated the home crowd. The game was an engrossing watch but not for the reasons both teams would have wanted - the lack of quality doesn't bode well for their Champions League hopes. 

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Standout players

Few players really impressed: Gaitan and Brahimi were tipped to be the match-winners for either side, but both will admit to having a bit of an off day. In goal, Iker Casillas showed glimpses of his old self - he produced two world-class saves to deny Mitroglou and Luisao in the first half. Also for Porto, new signing Giannelli Imbula from Marseille was a dominant force in the middle of the park, as if France needed another powerful midfielder.

For Benfica, their only real shining lights were Nelson Semedo at right back and Konstantinos Mitroglou as the lone striker. In Semedo, Benfica look to have their next upcoming star ready to be sold to a big club next summer: he's 21, very good defensively and provides a threat going forward. He won't stay in Portugal for too long.

Upfront for the men in red, Mitroglou looked a different player to the man who languished around Fulham under Felix Magath's horror spell. His hold up play was very impressive, his touch was flawless and he even looked to have a bit of pace. However unfamiliar this Mitroglou looks, Benfica will be hoping he sticks around for a few seasons. 

In terms of domestic glory, these two clubs will inevitably fight it out for the trophy. Judging from the standard of football they produced this evening, however, domestic glory is all they can really hope for this season. 

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Topics:
Primeira Liga
Football

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