A cracking weekend that changed little

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It is not every day Liga Sagres sees so many goals in just one round, but last weekend offered a tally of 26 goals, which is even more impressive when considering that two matches ended in a 0-0 draw.

The match between Braga and Guimarães was the textbook definition of a thriller: five goals, four penalties, four red cards and an awful lot of controversy.

Guimarães had been the first team to defeat the Arsenalistas this season and knowing the fierce rivalry between both sides, many accurately predicted a tough match for the title chasers.

Interestingly the visitors were the first score, but Braga were able to come from behind as both Alan and Meyong scored from the spot.

The best was yet to come though as 10-men Guimarães were awarded a penalty in the second minute of injury time; Andrezinho scored what could have been the goal that dashed Braga’s title hopes, but there was still time for another goal.

Wason Rentería fell inside the box and the referee incredibly pointed to the spot for a fourth time and sent-off three Guimarães players for protesting the decision. Meyong made no mistake again and one minute later the match would end as Braga continue their relentless pursuit for an unprecedented title!

Porto defeated Marítimo at home in a match that witnessed a frenetic start with three goals in just 8 minutes! With 15 seconds played, Japanese midfielder Taka took advantage of the initial apathy and scored from outside the box to give the away side a surprising lead.

The Dragons weren’t fazed though and 3 minutes later Radamel Falcao scored what will probably be the goal of the season. Hulk - who put in another good performance - crossed from the right flank and the Colombian striker connected with the most beautiful of bicycle kicks.

Late coming spectators were probably still trying to get into the stadium when Raul Meireles put the Dragons in front with a speculative header that goalkeeper Peçanha was not able to hold.

Buoyed by their encouraging start, Porto wouldn’t allow the Islanders to get back in the game again and pushed for more goals. Falcao would eventually score his 20th goal in the league and Hulk added a fourth to secure a more than comfortable victory for the Dragons.

Sporting entertained Rio Ave at home and gave Carlos Brito’s men a high five. The man of the match was the usually ineffective Yannick Djaló who scored a hattrick; Djaló actually scored the other wonder goal of the round as he acrobatically volleyed home a cross from Liédson.

Liédson and Moutinho scored the other goals in a game where Sporting were by far the better side.

It is also very curious how quickly Marat Izmailov fell out of favour with the club.

The Russian, who hadn’t featured since his apparent refusal to play against Atlético Madrid, came on in the 72th minute under loud jeers from the Sporting faithful but would be sent off 10 minutes later after a foolish tackle. Pretty sums up his current demise...

Benfica played against Naval on Monday knowing they could not afford to slip-up but the home side was in no mood to make things easy for the high-flying Eagles.

Naval reached a 2-0 lead with just 12 minutes played to test Benfica’s title credentials, but Jorge Jesus’ men were quick to react. Weldon – a surprising inclusion in the starting XI – scored two goals in 3 minutes to draw level and Di Maria would put his team in front before the break much to the relief of many Benfica supporters watching the game.

The current table-toppers controlled the match in the second half, especially after Cardozo killed off the match in the 55th minute, and will be happy for their inspired reaction; however,  it is impossible to overlook the fact Benfica are a team running out of gas. The players looked tired and the team as a whole looked sluggish. Do they have enough in the tank to beat Sporting?

Round 25 Results: Mon Apr 05: Naval 2-4 Benfica; Sat Apr 03: Olhanense 2-2 Vitória Setúbal, Paços Ferreira 0-0 Belenenses, Académica 0-0 Leiria, Porto 4-1 Marítimo; Fri Apr 02: Braga 3-2 Vitória Guimarães, Nacional 1-0 Leixões, Sporting 5-0 Rio Ave.