Primeira Liga Wrap: Hope for Porto as Benfica drop points
By Football News
Porto's Primeira Liga title hopes have received a boost with two rounds remaining after Estoril held league-leaders Benfica to a 1-1 draw.
Benfica had to come from behind at home to earn a point against sixth-placed Estoril thanks to a scorching half-volley from Maxi Pereira after Jefferson's free-kick had fortuitously given the visitors the lead just before the hour mark.
Monday's result left Benfica just two points ahead of Porto with two rounds left this season after the latter had overcome Nacional 3-1 on Friday.
Porto could leapfrog Benfica on Sunday when they face each other in Portugal's O Classico.
Benfica entered their clash with Estoril at the Estadio da Luz knowing a win would leave them needing just one more victory from their final two games to wrap up the title but it was the visitors who started better.
Estoril had a penalty claim correctly ignored when Luis Leal collapsed in the box despite no contact from Benfica goalkeeper Artur and soon after Lica curled his shot just wide of the goal.
On the half-hour mark, Benfica were forced into a substitution when Carlos Martins replaced the injured Enzo Perez and the home side should have hit the front three minutes later when Oscar Cardozo chested Nicolas Gaitan's cross to Lima but the Brazilian's strike hit the post.
Estoril made the league leaders pay in the 58th minute when Jefferson's cross from a free-kick snuck under Artur at the near post and into the net.
Benfica found a way back into the game ten minutes later, however, when a cross from the right bounced in front of Gaitan at the top of the box and the Argentine midfielder lofted a header over Estoril's defensive line to Pereira, who sent a rocket of a shot past Vagner.
The home side had to hold on for the final 12 minutes with one less player after Martins was sent off for a second bookable offence.
In Madeira on Friday, Porto overcame Nacional after a frantic opening half hour.
Porto opened the scoring in the 10th minute thanks to James Rodriguez's tap in from Jackson Martinez's cutback and doubled their lead 10 minutes later through a clever flick from Eliaquim Mangala.
It was 3-0 in the 22nd minute following a penalty from Lucho Gonzalez but Nacional hit back from the spot five minutes later when Daniel Candeias converted.
Neither side managed another goal, which allowed Porto to rise to 72 points, just behind Benfica (74 points) and well clear of third-placed Pacos de Ferreira (53), who defeated Sporting Lisbon 1-0.
In other Primeira Liga results, fourth-placed Sporting Braga kept the pressure on Pacos with a 3-2 triumph away to bottom club Moreirense to move to 49 points while Olhanense defeated Rio Ave 1-0.
Beira-Mar won 4-2 over Maritimo, Academica overcame Vitoria Setubal 1-0 and Vitoria Guimaraes cruised past Gil Vicente 3-1.