TugaScout is an English-language site reporting on matters associated with Portuguese football by freelance writer Alex Goncalves, offering the latest news, reviews and opinions surrounding the Portuguese League and the Seleção players based abroad.

Benfica fall to shock defeat as Braga jump up to second

Benfica fall to shock defeat as Braga jump up to second

Benfica lost 2-0 against Shoya Nakajima’s Portimonense, a bitter blow to their chances of regaining the Primeira Liga title.

The goals came from fortuitous circumstances for the Algarve side, who failed to get the ball across the line on their own. Instead, Ruben Dias first put the ball into his own net, sliding in to intercept a Manafa cross, but inadvertently putting the ball past the out-rushing Vlachodimos, who could only watch the ball trickle over the line.

That first goals came just 12 minutes in, meaning that a Benfica victory was still very much potentially on the cards.

Jardel came closest to equalising on the 26th minute, flicking his header towards goal, but it was too close to the goalkeeeper. Jonas then powered a close-range free-kick well over the bar.

However, for Benfica’s half-chances, they were unable to put the game back on level term, and when Shoya Nakajima played a delightful over-the-top-ball towards Jackson Martinez, Benfica had another defensive blunder.

After Martinez flicked the ball up and over Vlachodimos, his improvised chip was actually harmless, both off target and slow moving. However, Jardel’s attempted header over his own goal proved disastrous as he somehow nodded the ball into his own net. A disastrous error that proved costly for Benfica.

Benfica did come close to getting one back early in the second half, Grimaldo’s angled shot arrowed just wide of the goal 8 minutes after the interval.

But it was Portimonense that arguably had the best chance of the half just 30 seconds later when Vlachodimos was forced into a one-on-one save on the counter, before Raphinha tested his acrobatics in the 68th minute, flicking a well-directed shot into the top corner which Vlachodimos just about parried away.

There was then a great deal of controversy when the referee went to consult the VAR, watching back footage of Jonas’ high challenge on the goalkeeper which he eventually deemed worthy of a red. That is despite Jonas winning the ball without making contact with the goalkeeper, and making a genuine attempt to win the ball and score a goal.

Ultimately, it had little impact on the game, with Portimonense excellent value for their win, and could have even had one or two more but for a little more composure in the opposition box. A day to forget for Benfica.

At the other end of Portugal, Braga secured victory of Maritimo to capitalise on Benfica’s shortcomings to move ahead of their title rivals. It was a vital win for Braga, who fell to a somewhat calamitous 6-2 defeat to the Lisbon outfit last week.

The goas came courtesy of Raul Silva and Wilson Eduardo.

Braga now sit on 33 points, a point ahead of Benfica and 3 behind Porto, who have a game in hand.

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