Porto back in the title race after coming from a goal down to beat Benfica 2-1 in O Clássico
Benfica’s lead at the top of the Primeira Liga has been reduced to seven points after suffering a 2-1 defeat to Porto at Estádio da Luz.
The Eagles got off to a great start in O Clássico, taking the lead in the 10th minute when Gonçalo Ramos’ header found the net after rebounding off the bar and Diogo Costa.
Porto stayed in the contest and equalised on the stroke of half time when Mateus Uribe swept Pepê Aquino’s clever ball into the bottom corner.
The Dragons kept their foot on the gas after half time and scored the decisive goal in the 54th minute. Pepe’s hopeful long ball wasn’t cleared by Benfica’s defence, Galeno teeing up Mehdi Taremi who beat Odysseas Vlachodimos with a low drive.
Benfica ahead early
Porto began brightly in Lisbon, their best opportunity falling to Mehdi Taremi who threatened to shoot before António Silva timed his challenge to perfection.
Benfica weathered the storm and opened the scoring in the 10th minute. Gonçalo Ramos rose above Pepe and headed Alexander Bah’s cross against the bar, the ball rebounding off Diogo Costa and into the net.
Florentino was booked after a handball involving Otávio, Porto’s chief protagonist firing the free kick toward the top corner where Odysseas Vlachodimos diverted the ball wide.
Mateus Uribe was the first Porto player booked after a late shot on Bah, the right back unable to continue and replaced by Gilberto.
Porto pile on the pressure
Uribe’s poor pass was pounced on by Ramos, Pepe keeping the Dragons in the contest after executing a well-timed block. It proved to be a turning point with Uribe equalising before the break.
Pepê Aquino chested Wilson Manafa’s cross into the path of Uribe, the Colombian midfielder reacting fastest and sweeping the ball into the bottom corner.
Porto put the ball into the back of the net again deep into added time after Galeno capitalised on a defensive error, VAR intervening and ruling the winger 6cm offside.
Dragons take the lead
The Dragons maintained the momentum after the break and went ahead in the 54th minute. Pepe’s hopeful long ball was headed into the mixer by Galeno, Mehdi Taremi taking his time before measuring a low drive into the bottom corner.
Sérgio Conceição wasted no time in bringing on João Mário and Stephen Eustáquio for Wilson Manafá and Marko Grujic, Roger Schmidt reacting by replacing Florentino with David Neres.
Mário immediately went close with a shot that narrowly missed the post, the right-back injured not long after and replaced by Zaidu Sanusi. Wendell made way for Toni Martínez which saw Pepê move into Mário’s vacated position.
Porto missed a great opportunity to put the result beyond doubt in the 73rd minute when Taremi raced clear, the striker unable to take advantage of a 3 on 2 fast break.
No way back for Benfica
Benfica began to take the initiative, Neres firing wide and Chiquinho shooting straight at Costa before Schmidt brought on Petar Musa for Rafa.
The Eagles’ last chance fell to Ramos after Otamendi sent the ball into the box, the ball narrowly evading the striker which was a perfect summation of Benfica’s performance after the 30 minute mark.
First home defeat under Schmidt
The result sees Roger Schmidt taste defeat for the first time at Estádio da Luz, the loss coming at a bad time, just four days before Benfica host Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg.
The Eagles couldn't capitalise on their early opener, the threats posed by Fredrik Aursnes and João Mário nullified by Porto's defence, Neres unable to make a difference off the bench with Petar Musa given little time to contribute up front.
Pepe produced another professional performance as Porto's midfield won the battle in the middle of the pitch. Otávio and Mateus Uribe did what they do best, disrupting the opposition and providing attacking threats.
The victory comes at a great time for Sérgio Conceição, the manager likely to start speaking at press conferences again while the going is good.