FC Porto remain five points clear at the top of the Primeira Liga despite dropping points for the first time since August when they lost at Benfica. Ahead of his first ‘Clássico’ as Sporting manager, Marcel Keizer welcomed the return of Bas Dost to the starting line-up, with Jefferson replacing the suspended Marcos Acuña.
In the away end, Pepe’s anticipated comeback was left on ice in favour of Felipe’s return, partnering Éder Militão at the heart of defence.
There was not much to choose between Sporting and the league leaders in the first forty-five minutes. On the brink of half-time Porto boss Sérgio Conceição brought on Óliver Torres to replace the injured Maxi Pereira.
From one right-back to another, Sporting’s Bruno Gaspar made way for Stefan Ristovski through injury after just two minutes of the second-half.
Ten minutes after the break Tiquinho Soares should have put the visitors in front but the Brazilian got his volley all wrong.
Sporting’s Nani got the better of Corona in the seventieth minute but his cross to Bas Dost was bravely intercepted by Militão. Sporting attempted to break the deadlock with long range shots and fifteen minutes from time it nearly paid dividends when Gudelj’s effort drew a great save from Casillas who tipped the Serbian’s effort over the bar.
A point-a-piece leaves Sporting in fourth place, eight points adrift of top spot at the half way mark in the season.
Benfica continue to benefit from the feel-good factor under interim coach Bruno Lage as they took early charge of their game against Santa Clara in the Azores.
João Félix missed a gilt-edged chance to put the visitors into the lead on fifteen minutes after a cut-back by Zivkovic.
However, the Eagles did not have to wait long to take the lead as a ball over the top allowed Seferovic to race clear with the Swiss striker finishing clinically.
It got worse for the islanders shortly before half-time as Fabio Cardoso was sent for an early bath after bringing down Pizzi when the midfielder was racing clear.
Benfica doubled their lead soon after the interval when Jardel headed in direct from a corner. Seferovic thought he had scored another only to be denied by an offside flag, Grimaldo chose to cross when he should have shot and Seferovic twice missed from point-blank range, as the ten-men somehow kept the score respectable.
SC Braga were first to threaten on their visit to Portimonense as Paulinho tested keeper Ricardo within the first sixty seconds.
But just a couple of minutes later the home side were in front as Wellington cut inside from the left-wing and fired low into the net, although Braga goalkeeper Tiago Sá will feel he should have done better. Os Arsenalistas drew level early in the second-half as Dyego Sousa rose highest at a corner to thunder a header into the net.
This was the Brazilian’s twelfth goal of the season to consolidate his place at the top of the Primeira Liga scoring chart.
Braga became the latest title contender to drop points in the Algarve on the back of defeats for both Benfica and Sporting this season at the Estádio Municipal de Portimão.