Benfica triumph in Portimão

Portimonense 1-3 Benfica

Following an opening half during which Benfica could easily have scored more than Cervi’s opener, Portimonense clawed their way back into the match after the interval before ultimately falling to a superbly struck free kick, the visitors sealing the win with a third deep into injury time.

Manager Vítor Oliveira’s men appeared overawed by the occasion for the best part of the first playing period and fell behind in the sixth minute as a result of an unfortunate attempted Ruben Fernandes’ clearance.

Benfica, who did well to snuff out the potential danger presented by leading Portimonense performers Shoya Nakajima and Fabrício, continued to dominate and top scorer Jonas and Arsenal target Zivkovic, in particular, were unlucky not to take the game beyond the Algarveans’ reach before the break.

However, a more composed Portimonense 11 emerged from the tunnel for the second half and Fernandes almost atoned for his earlier mistake when narrowly flashing a header wide following four successive Portimonense corners. An unsuccessful penalty appeal at either end later saw a further home side corner met firmly at the far post by Felipe Macedo for the equaliser.

As both sides went in search of the winner, Portimonense keeper Ricardo Ferreira did very well to keep out André Almeida while substitute Fede Varela narrowly missed at the other end.

With 15 minutes to play, Benfica won a direct free-kick on the edge of the Portimonense area, and the opening scorer, diminutive Argentine Cervi, stepped up to sink his strike beyond the helpless Ferreira.

As the clock ticked down, Galeno’s shot across goal almost punished out-of-position Benfica keeper Varela but rolled agonisingly wide before Zivkovic was at hand in the sixth minute of added time to slot home and inflate the final score line to 3-1.

There can be few complaints about the outcome of the match as Benfica were the better side over 90 minutes, but fans and neutrals alike will be hoping that ticket sales are better-managed by the time the next ‘big occasion’ comes around on Sunday, February 25 when Porto are the visitors at the municipal stadium.

Last week, more than 500 people started to queue outside the ground at 6am only for ticket offices to shut down almost as soon as they had opened.

According to one eyewitness, the only 90 tickets available were sold to the first three customers in the line, 80 alone going to one person. The remainder of the queue, marshalled by PSP police, were then informed that the other 5,910 tickets had already been divided up between Benfica and Portimonense season ticket holders, sponsors and local schools.

Before that date, Portimonense are back in league action tomorrow (Friday), when more modest support is expected for the visit to Feirense.