Benfica suffer shock loss, Porto fail to capitalise
Portuguese league leaders Benfica suffered a 2-1 defeat at Rio Ave, succumbing to two late goals and briefly offering unexpected hope to their nearest pursuers.
Lisbon: Portuguese league leaders Benfica suffered a 2-1 defeat at Rio Ave, succumbing to two late goals and briefly offering unexpected hope to their nearest pursuers.
Yet Porto, Benfica`s major rivals for the title, missed out on a golden opportunity to close the gap at the top to just one point after only managing a 1-1 draw at Nacional de Madeira.
Instead, Benfica now lead by three points with 65 points to Porto`s 62. Third placed Sporting have 53 points and play Guimaraes on Sunday.
Benfica, having started the day protecting a four point lead, had gone ahead early on from Eduardo Salvio`s clinical finish and looked on course to stretch their lead as they led 1-0 at halftime.
They could have wrapped up victory when Salvio missed another fine opportunity and then, early in the second half, Lima headed wide from Ola John`s clever centre.
Benfica, though, were left to rue these missed chances when the home side hit back with two goals in the last 15 minutes.
First, on the 75th minute mark, Andreas Samaris diverted Rio Ave substitute Diego Lopes`s header around the postwith his hand. Ukra brought Rio Ave from the spot.
"From then on our tactical superiority went out of the window," said coach Jorge Jesus afterwards. "We had controlled the game tactically but in that instant it began to turn into a scrap."
As Benfica`s defending became more ragged, Luisao was sent off for a rash challenge on Tiago Pinto and, in the final minute, Venezuelan striker Yonathan Del Valle cut inside from the left and finished brilliantly past Julio Cesar.
Cristian Tello continued his recent rich scoring form by putting Porto ahead in Madeira just before the break with a fine left foot shot into the top corner but Nacional soon hit back with a 62nd minute equaliser from Brazilian Wagner.