At last Liga Sagres has a winner, and (Ã¢ÂÂ¦drum rollÃ¢ÂÂ¦) it is Benfica!
Over 64,000 supporters packed EstÃÂ¡dio da Luz to see their team being crowned 2009/10 Champions and when Paraguayan hitman ÃÂscar Cardozo scored in the third minute, few believed the Eagles would somehow drop the ball.
Things would get even easier eight minutes later, when Wires was sent-off for a tough challenge on Brazilian midfielder Ramires.
With everything seemingly going for them, Benfica controlled the match without pushing too hard for a second goal. However that move suddenly looked to have backfired as Rio Ave somehow leveled through Ricardo Chaves in the 72nd minute to give Braga a glimmer of hope.
But that late drama would only last seven minutes as Cardozo grabbed his second goal to not only confirm the title but also surpass Porto forward Radamel Falcao as the leagueÃ¢ÂÂs top goalscorer.
As for Braga, even though they were only able to claim the runners-up sport Ã¢ÂÂ which is a still an immense achievement considering their expectations at the beginning of the season Ã¢ÂÂ they can hold their heads high after a terrific campaign that drew many supporters and will see their team fighting for a place in the Champions League, Ã¢ÂÂle crÃÂ¨me de la crÃÂ¨meÃ¢ÂÂ of continental football. They have surely come a long way and it will be interesting to see how well they will fare next season.
Are Benfica deserving champions?
Though the Eagles have played the best football the Portugueezer has ever seen them play (hey, I am young!), their title isnÃ¢ÂÂt without its shades of controversy: the tunnel controversies, some dubious penalty awards and the relatively high number of matches played against 10-men.
Managers usually whisper that the number of decisions for and against them pretty much evens out, but it is hard not to wonder how the Eagles would have coped with more decisions going against them.
MarÃÂtimo pip GuimarÃÂ£es to final Europa League berth
GuimarÃÂ£es enjoyed a somewhat slow start, but under Paulo SÃÂ©rgio the team eventually blossomed into a rather plucky and organized side and for a while it seemed like they could dethrone Sporting from fourth spot.
However, they will be very disappointed to miss out on next seasonÃ¢ÂÂs Europa League at the last hurdle as Mitchell Van der Gaag steered the Islanders to a surprising 1-2 away win to secure an unexpected fifth place.
Worth watching is MarÃÂtimoÃ¢ÂÂs winner in the 81th minute, an example of simple yet beautiful team play!
Thumbs up to the young Dutch manager and thumbs down to Paulo SÃÂ©rgio who will now be heading to Sporting with more question marks surrounding himÃ¢ÂÂ¦
Welcome Beira-Mar and Portimonense!
The duo were in pole position to clinch promotion ahead of the final round of matches in PortugalÃ¢ÂÂs second tier, and both claimed wins in the final day (Beira-Mar 1-0 Carregado, Oliveirense 0-1 Portimonense) to join the big fish in the scenic pond of the Liga Sagres 2010/11 season.
How they will perform and whether they are capable of beating the drop next year remains to be seen, but weÃ¢ÂÂd welcome any opinions on the matter below.
Just one point of interest to finish off, next season will be first since 1988/1989 that the Portuguese top-flight features two Algarvian teams (Portimonense and Olhanense). It is also interesting to note that in a region with few developed clubs , nobody will play at EstÃÂ¡dio do Algarve, one of the stadiums specifically built for the Euro 2004.
And to think AC Milan and Internazionale share their stadium!
RESULTS Sun May 09: PaÃÂ§os Ferreira 2-2 Olhanense, Naval 0-1 AcadÃÂ©mica; VitÃÂ³ria GuimarÃÂ£es 1-2 MarÃÂtimo, Benfica 2-1 Rio Ave, Nacional 1-1 Braga; Sat May 08: UniÃÂ£o Leiria 1-4 Porto, VitÃÂ³ria SetÃÂºbal 1-2 Belenenses, LeixÃÂµes 1-2 Sporting.