Saturday, January 18, 2020

Benfica win Derby with late Rafa Silva goals

Benfica Blog
Benfica went into the Estadio Jose Alvalade knowing that the first half of the Portuguese League season would end with them in the top spot in the league, but it could be by as little as one point depending on how the day would unfold. The first part of the day could not have gone better for Benfica as Sporting Braga earned a major away win over second place FC Porto 2-1 which guaranteed that Benfica would be up by four or more points into the first turn of the season. Benfica would then go into their game against their cross town rivals looking for all three points as they worked to widen their league lead over FC Porto.

Benfica would kick off the game with the first real scoring chance when league scoring leader Pizzi's left footed shot from the right side of the box was saved by Sporting keeper Maximiano at the 11 minute mark. Sporting would come right back with a chance just of their own just a minute later as Rafael Camacho hit the right side of the post after being sent in by Bruno Fernandes. Benfica would then just miss opening the scoring as a Gabriel header off of a corner kick would take a bounce off the grass before being palmed over the bar by the Sporting keeper midway through the first half. Benfica continued to press looking for the opening goal and would get another chance to open the scoring off of a corner once again but this time Ferro would send his header sailing wide over the bar. Sporting's Camacho would get and miss his second scoring chance of the half when he would send his header right into the arms of Benfica keeper Vlachodimos. Then just moments later Sporting striker Phellype thought he had opened the scoring for the home side at the 35th minute but his strike was called back for offside and replays showed the 26 year old was ahead of everyone by a good foot. Sporting looked to gain confidence as the half reached its conclusion and Bolasie's left footed shot from in close was turned away by Vlachodimos to keep the game scoreless going into the half.

Then second half would kick off but would be delayed just seconds into the half by up to five minutes as Sporting Ultras threw flares onto the pitch setting fires to the field and the netting behind the goal protecting fans in their own home grounds. Lisbon firefighters were well placed in the stadium to extinguish the fires so that the second half could commence with the Sporting Ultras once again getting their club into the news for all the wrong reasons after their embarrassing antics at Alcochete. The delayed start to the half seemed to benefit Sporting who controlled the beginning of the half and came close to opening the scoring on two occasions as a Doumbia right footed shot and a Tiago Ilori left footed shot were both turned away by Benfica keeper Vlachodimos. Doumbia would get another chance from a corner but his header would be directed straight into the arms of Benfica's keeper at the 65 minute mark. Benfica would then bring in Rafa Silva as a substitute at the 73rd minute mark and it would take the recently returned from injury winger just six minutes to open the scoring at Alvalade as he would take a Carlos Vinicius pass just on side and send a low right footed shot into the bottom left corner of the net to give Benfica the lead. The goal seemed to take the wind out of Sporting's sails as the club struggled to get anything going the rest of the way with Benfica turning away and chance the home side tried to get going. Rafa would double Benfica's lead eight minutes into additional time when Seferovic would lobby the ball to Rafa who's quick one touch shot would sail into the top left corner of the net sealing the victory for the league leaders and earning them another victory in the fabled Lisbon Derby.

Benfica now go into the second half of the league seven points up on second place FC Porto and an astonishing 19 points up on their fourth place cross town rivals with 17 games remaining in the season schedule. Benfica are next up next weekend away at Pacos Ferreira on January 26.

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