Playing in a stadium where so many victories were achieved, FC Porto wasn’t fortunate this time. The classic at Estádio da Luz that ended the first-half of the season brought a defeat by 2-0. The game was balanced in the first-half, but the early goal in the second-half killed tha match, along with the contribution of the referee, who found a way to show a red card to Danilo and ignore two penalties for the white and blues.
The first-half had balance, with both teams nullifying each other. Neither team was able to dominate in the midfield and consistently apply pressure to the opponent. The statistics shows that balance: three shots for each team and the Dragons with more ball possession (54%). The goal scored by the home team, on the first occasion, was what made the difference: 13 minutes in, a fumble led to a fast attack that ended with Rodrigo scoring.
The goal allowed Benfica to go back and defend on their midfield, looking at the counter-attack to bother the white and blue defence. FC Porto had obvious difficulties in dominating an opponent that is comfortable playing in that tactic, but came close to tying the match in stoppage time: Jackson, in front of goal, shot outside the post, following a pass by Licá. The Colombian striker had in fact already missed his first goal, nine minutes in, after barely missing a cross by Carlos Eduardo.
In the second-half, FC Porto seemed capable of taking over the match, looking for the tie. Carlos Eduardo, 49 minutes in, had a free-kick just outside the opposing box, but the ball went straight at Oblak. The following minutes were deadly for the Dragons: aiming more and more at fast counter-attacks, Benfica tried to get past Helton in a shot by Markovic, but the second goal would come from a corner-kick, with Garay jumping above everyone else. Before that, Mangala had touched the ball with his arm in the box, with Artur Soares Dias ignoring a clear penalty. That, however, was the only play where the Dragons were helped, as after that the referee insisted in pushing FC Porto.
The goal was a hard blow, especially considering that, shortly after, the referee stopped a play where Jackson was alone in front of the keeper just to show a yellow card to Matic. The outrage that took over the white and blue players meant a yellow card to Danilo, which would become determinant to his sent-off, in what seemed to be a joke: 74 minutes in, the Brazilian right defender was alone in front of the keeper and was tackled by Garay. The contact was obvious, but the referee saw a simulation that no one else could see. Down to ten men, FC Porto was limited in trying to fight for the match. Curiously enough, the criterion displayed by Artur Soares Dias was not the same for a dive by Siqueira.
There was still time for another tackle by Garay, this time on Quaresma, which was ignored as well. Until the final whistle, down one man, FC Porto kept looking for the goal, while Benfica kept trying to keep the score. The Dragons were defeated, but fought to the end.