Match report from PortuGOAL.net:
The first derby of the season was another highly exciting encounter at the Estádio da Luz. Jorge Jesus’ Benfica welcomed back Enzo Peréz into the team after he missed the win against Boavista through injury. Ruben Amorim picked up an injury in that game was replaced by André Almeida in the starting line-up.
Sporting were still without regular right-back Cédric Soares so Marco Silva kept faith in youngster Ricardo Esgaio over the recently recalled Miguel Lopes. William Carvalho was restored into midfield in the place Oriol Rosell after he served his suspension and Islam Slimani also recently patched things up with Sporting management and he started up front ahead of Fredy Montero.
It was the home side who began the game the better as Sporting struggled to settle down. It was the visitors who had the first sniff at goal when a Jefferson corner found the head of the returning Islam Slimani but the Algerian’s header missed.
Talisca had the first opportunity for Benfica when his freekick was tipped over by Rui Patrício. The goalkeeper was called into action again when Luisão found space after a short corner routine.
Benfica opened the scoring with a fantastically worked goal. Eduardo Salvio and Maxi Pereira combined well down the right-flank. Maxi’s flick found Nico Gaitán whose shot was powerful enough to beat Rui Patrício and send the home fans into raptures.
It took a while for Sporting to grow into the game. They were given a gigantic helping hand by the fringe of Artur.
The goalkeeper was closed down by André Carrillo and after a bad touch he could only fire his kick directly at the Peruvian. The ball bounced kindly for Islam Slimani to head into an empty from less than a yard away. It was a farcical goal that may mean that Júlio César will be in-between the sticks for Benfica’s next game.
Their next chance again came to Islam Slimani. Adrien Silva’s shot was blocked and fell into the path of the striker behind the Benfica defence. His shot was a tame effort easily caught by Artur.
Sporting’s high pressure made the entire Benfica back line nervous with Sporting managing to create attacks by capitalising on mistakes.
The home side had to good chances to take the lead soon after the restart. Nico Gaitán found space down the left-hand side but his audacious attempt to chip Rui Patrício went over the bar. Soon after Salvio also had a decent effort from outside the area that just went wide.
Benfica had a spell of dominance with a half hour to go after a series of chances. Salvio’s chance was the better of the 3 or 4 great chances the home side created. Lima did well down the left hand side and easily got the best of Naby Sarr. Lima’s pull back found Salvio on the penalty spot but his shot was well saved by Patrício.
Salvio had an even better chance 5 minutes later when Sporting’s defence was easily cut open once more. Lima’s cross from the left hand side found Salvio in acres of space but the Argentinian’s shot hit the wrong side of the netting.
With 12 minutes left Nico Gaitán almost got his second from a corner but his header went just over Patrício’s post.
Islam Slimani almost won the game for Sporting just 2 minutes from the end when he found space at the far past after Nani’s cross. The striker’s shot was stopped by Artur to keep the scores level.
It was another fascinating and compelling derby and in the end the scores were perhaps reflective of the game despite Benfica having the better of the second half they could easily have let it slip in the dying minutes.
SPORTING XI: Rui Patrício; Ricardo Esgaio (YC), Maurício, Naby Sarr, Jefferson; William Carvalho, Adrien Silva (YC) (Carlos Mané, 79′), André Martins (Oriol Rosell, 81′); Nani, André Carrillo (YC) (Diego Capel, 60′), Islam Slimani (Scored, 20′)
Substitutes Not Used: Marcelo Boeck, Paulo Oliveira, Fredy Montero, Junya Tanaka
Meanwhile Sporting B went from 0-1 up to 2-1 down away to Beira-Mar earlier on Sunday. Daniel Podence grabbed the opener for Sporting B but veteran striker Índio gave Beira-Mar the win with 2 goals in 2 minutes.
It was Sporting who had the better of the first half, dominating possession and Daniel Podence’s curling effort after 19 minutes gone was certainly indicative of the away sides play in the first half.
Beira-Mar improved drastically after the break but it was two set pieces that were the downfall of Francisco Barão’s side.
First, Mauro Riquicho gave a freekick away for a foul on Billal Sebaihi. Íncio converted from the freekick.
Sporting shot themselves in the foot in the 3rd minute of stoppage time after conceding a penalty. Again, Íncio stepped up and struck his effort past Luís Ribeiro.
SPORTING B XI: Luís Ribeiro; Mauro Riquicho, Sambinha, Tobias Figueiredo, Mica Pinto; Fabrice Fokobo, Wallyson Mallmann, Iuri Medeiros; Daniel Podence (Scored, 19′) (Mama Baldé, 76′), Ryan Gauld (Ousmane Dramé, 64′), Lewis Enoh (Gelson Martins, 70′)
Substitutes Not Used: Guilherme Oliveira, Domingos Duarte, Wilson Manafá, Jorge Santos
Finally yesterday also saw the departure of former Sporting B goalkeeper Mickaël Meira to AEL Limassol on a full transfer for an undisclosed amount.
Meira will be joining up with on-loan Sporting player Zezinho – the Cyprus club having a large Portuguese contingent there..
Mickaël Meira spent 5-years coming through the youth ranks at Sporting after signing from Fátimo in 2009.