Still Neck and Neck (Benfica vs Porto)

The best rivalry in Portugal for the last 10 years is Benfica and Porto, while the decline and decay of Sporting continues. The O Clássico always produces great matches, and this season, with the title race going neck and neck, both teams being inseprable, it produced the most incredible 17 minutes right from the start.

The match began with Eliaquim Mangala scoring after only 8 minutes after Joao Moutinho crossed, Jackson Martinez flicked it forward and the centre back was unmarked for an easy finish. Only 90 seconds later, and Nemanja Matic, probably the best player on the pitch through the entire 90 minutes, scored one of the finest goals anyone will see this season with a splendid volley from the edge of the box.

While it looked like Benfica will be pushing forward for the kill with the amazing support and atmosphere at those moments, a huge mistake by the goalkeeper Artur led to an easy Jackson Martinez, silencing the Estadio da Luz, or at least the majority of it. But on a special day, Benfica didn’t have to wait very long for the equalizer. In fact, once again, it took less than two minutes for Nico Gaitan to pounce on a rebound in the box and rocket it into the top net.

The second half was mostly Porto looking for a dangerous counter attack opportunity, while Benfica fans couldn’t believe the chances missed by Oscar Cardozo, playing with a bandaged head, and hoping that the dramatic 3-2 victory by Porto from last season wouldn’t repeat itself.

It ended in a 2-2 draw, which means both teams are pretty much level. Benfica lead the table with 36 points after 14 matches, Porto are second with 33 but having played a match less. Benfica do have the better goal difference with a +36 compared with Porto’s +22. The way the Liga Sagres is looking at the moment, it looks like Benfica’s visit to the north of Portugal on May 12, the next to last gameweek of the season, will be the title decider.