Roundup of how the Portuguese sides got on in Europe this week
There were mixed fortunes in the Champions League this week for Portuguese sides as both Porto and Benfica took to the pitch, while Sporting had the daunting task of welcoming in-form Arsenal to Lisbon.
It was a case of so near yet so far for Benfica, who seemingly arrived in the Netherlands willing to accept a point while also looking for all three, and had what would have been a solid draw snatched away from them in injury time.
The game was frantic to begin with, with both Benfica and Ajax having good early chances to take the lead. But neither side managed to break the deadlock, with Benfica goalkeeper Vlachodimos particularly impressive, pulling off a string of one-on-one saves that kept Benfica in the game.
But at the other end, Benfica's Seferovic also had a solid game, showing why he has kept new signings Ferreyra and Castillo out of the side, in addition to the excellent Jonas. The Swiss striker showed good strength and determination up front, and helped create some chances which could have delivered a different result on the night for the Lisbon club.
But, with time running out and Benfica increasingly willing to settle for the draw, it was a nightmare end for Benfica, conceding a deflected edge of the box shot which deceived Vlachodimos and found its way into the back of the net, the chance starting from Conti's failed attempt at a clearance.
The fact that it was still 0-0 by the ninetieth was in itself a surprise, with both sides having more than enough chances to break the dreadlock earlier, but it was Ajax's late strike that proved decisive and puts Benfica third in the table, 4 points behind both Bayern Munich and Ajax and on the brink of slipping down into the Europa League.
Porto, on the other hand, had a much more enjoyable night, although it could have certainly been a different story.
There was early drama when Lokomotiv Moscow were awarded a penalty after some sloppy Alex Telles defending, but Portuguese midfielder Manuel Fernandes' resultant spot-kick was saved by Iker Casillas.
There was further drama when a penalty was awarded at the other end, another Portuguese player involved as Euro 2016 hero Eder was adjudged to have fouled in the box. Marega was the man who stepped up to take it, slotting it home past the keeper.
Porto then doubled their lead in the first half, Jesus Corona whipping in a cross from the byline which was met by the head of highly sought-after Mexican midfielder Hector Herrera.
But Lokomotiv Moscow gave themselves hope late on in the second half after the Miranchuk brothers linked up to find the back of the net.
Lokomotiv's aspirations of finding an equaliser were all but extinguished early on after the restart though, when Corona bagged a goal of his own after rocketing the ball into the roof of the net past Guilherme. Lokomotiv had further misery when Kverkveliya saw red with 15 minutes to go after a poor recovery challenge.
The victory sees Porto go top of the table on seven points, two clear of their nearest competitors Schalke.
With regards to the Europa League, Portugal’s sole representative Sporting CP fell to a 77th minute defeat at the hands of English heavyweights Arsenal after Danny Welbeck struck low and hard through the legs of Renan Ribeiro.
Sporting could feel somewhat aggrieved by the result however, with a significant shout for a free-kick turned down after Sokratis Papastathopolous pulled Fredy Montero’s shirt in a one-on-one position midway through the first half. Had a foul been given, a red card would likely have followed, which would have changed the complexion of the game.
In any case, Sporting will feel confident that qualification to the next round is on the cards, sitting second in the group of 6 points, three clear of Vorskla in third.