At the bottom, SC Portimonense’s remarkable form since the return of football sees them on the verge of climbing out of the relegation zone.
Benfica travelled to Madeira to play lowly Marítimo knowing that nothing short of a resounding victory would save manager Bruno Lage’s job.
The Eagles had won their four previous outings against the islanders, scoring sixteen goals in the process, but these are difficult times for the reigning champions who had recorded just one victory in their previous six games.
The visitors started brightly with Marítimo keeper Amir Abedzadeh denying Chiquinho and Carlos Vinícius from point-blank range in the opening fifteen minutes. Late in the game they would go on to rue those missed chances as Marítimo’s Nanú took control of the midfield and used his pace to set-up Correa for an easy opening goal fifteen minutes from time. Five minutes later it was again the Guinea-Bissau international who, after another piercing run, produced a cross-shot for Rodrigo Pinho to slot home and consign Benfica to yet another defeat.
Bruno Lage subsequently offered his resignation which Benfica president Luís Filipe Vieira accepted.
Rumours in the English and Portuguese sports press have linked the vacancy with former Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino who has been a free agent since last November when he was replaced by José Mourinho at the north London club.
FC Porto took advantage of their arch-rivals dismal run with a single goal victory against Paços de Ferreira to increase their lead at the top to six points with just five games left to play.
Former Newcastle United defender Chancel Mbemba got the all important goal, after just seven minutes, following a corner. Despite second-half pressure from relegation threatened P.Ferreira, the Dragons held on to their single victory and now look odds-on favourites to regain the Primeira Liga crown that they surrendered to Benfica a year ago.
SC Portimonense, six points from safety when the league was suspended in March, have made a remarkable comeback after the restart. Three victories and two draws have moved them to within two points of safety. On Tuesday they recorded a remarkable victory at high flying Famaliçao with Ricardo Vaz Tê slotting home the all important goal after seventeen minutes.
Vaz Tê has previously played for Bolton Wanderers, Hibernian, Barnsley, West Ham United and Charlton Athletic. Probably the most important goal scored by the well travelled striker was his 87th minute winner for West Ham United against Blackpool in the English Championship play-off final at Wembley eight years ago thus earning the Hammers a place in the lucrative Premier League.
Portimonense fans will probably argue that Tuesday night’s winner was equally important; only time will tell. Saturday’s crucial home game against V.Guimarães will be another stern test for the rejuvenated Portimão outfit.