Lisbon duo on song as Benfica defeat Famalicão and Sporting overcome Portimonense

A brace from Gonçalo Ramos kept Benfica top of the Primeira Liga table after Friday night’s 2-0 win over Famalicão.

Two goals from Ramos on either side of the break helped Roger Schmidt’s side to a routine home win, but Sporting’s evening at Portimão seemed far from smooth on a lavish evening in the South.

After hitting the woodwork twice in the first half after a missed penalty by Pedro Gonçalves, the Lions challenged a winner from substitute Paulinho in the 77th minute to earn a hard-fought victory and applied much-needed pressure the third placed Sporting de from Braga.

Benfica 2-0 Famalicao

Under the lights on Friday night, the capital’s Estádio da Luz welcomed Famalicão ahead of the latest chapter in Benfica’s title quest, with the Eagles keen to extend their lead by 11 points ahead of FC Porto’s away game against Chaves.

The game didn’t live up to its promise as both sides neutralized each other for the early substitution, but Benfica converted their chance when Gonçalo Ramos saved the opening goal from close range in the 35th minute.

Roger Schmidt’s side took the one-goal advantage into the break, with Ramos’ goal inspiring further chances from David Neres and Rafa Silva, the latter of whom went off the bar in the 69th minute.

The hosts had to wait until injury time to extend their lead, again through Ramos who would be the quickest to react to a rebound from Alex Grimaldo’s strike to secure a 2-0 win.

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Portimonense 0-1 Sporting

Even with a tasty Europa League game against Arsenal on the horizon, Sporting refused to look beyond a portimonense side that the Lions were keen to add as a big scalp.

However, the visitors always seemed the most likely to emerge from the stalemate as both Pedro Gonçalves and Marcus Edwards missed opportunities to put Sporting ahead after erratic efforts within the opening half-hour.

A foul on Nuno Santos in the box promised to make life easier for the Lisbon giants just before half-time, but even a penalty was not routine enough for the missed Pedro Gonçalves, who fired his conversion over the bar in the 42nd minute.

As the second half wore on it became increasingly clear that the night ahead was a torrid one for Pedro Gonçalves, with his next volley being agonizingly rejected by the post just moments after the latte prevented Park Ji-. soo from scoring an own goal.

The nightmare ensued for Sporting’s top scorer after Kosuke Nakamura defeated the Portuguese attacking midfielder from a one-on-one midway through the second half, but unfortunately Pedro Gonçalves’ paths crossed with redemption in the 81st minute, assisting Paulinho’s well-taken one finish with a raised pass.

Rúben Amorim’s men would look no further than 1-0 in front of goal on an emotionally difficult night, closing the gap to just two points between them and Braga before going on to face Rio Ave on Sunday night.

By Patrick Ribeiro

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