This Friday, FC Porto beat Sporting (2-1), at Estádio do Dragão, for matchday 25, and is now eight points ahead of Benfica and Sporting, even though the Reds have one less match played. Marcano (28m) and Brahimi (49m) were the scorers for the Dragons, who were, once again, better than a direct rival.
Remaining true to one of their features this season, FC Porto started in full throttle for the classic and, from the moment the referee signalled the start of the match, the Dragons took control, setting a strong pace and pressure, which Sporting had issues in countering. Marcano was the first to aim at goal (11m), and Marega followed, twice: the Malian forward headed at the post and then had Bryan Ruiz deny him of the glory on the touchline (12m). And then there was more for Marega. Gonçalo Paciência passed to the number 11, and the following shot went slightly outside the post, wasting a great opportunity for the first of the evening (26m).
Sporting started countering the blue and white pressure after minute 20, and gained new life in the duel. Still, the team from Lisbon rarely posed danger to Casillas, except in the play caused by the lack of communication between the blue and white goalkeeper and Marcano, which Doumbia almost turned into a goal (21m). The goal did come, but on the other end of the pitch. After a corner-kick taken by Sérgio Óliveira, Maxi passed to Herrera on the right wing and the blue and white captain crossed straight at Marcano’s head, who then made the fans at Estádio do Dragão jump in celebration for the first time (almost sold-out, with 48,405 attendants).
In stoppage time of the first-half, in what felt like a lucky play, Rafael Leão tied the match for Sporting (45m+1), leading to a tie that the Lions did nothing to deserve. The start of the second-half was decisive to the outcome of the match, as, just four minutes after the resume, Brahimi put the Dragons in the lead again. The back cross from Gonçalo Paciência ended in the Algerian winger, who beat Rui Patrício. The shot was impossible to save (49m).
After that, there was more of a fight than a football match, but FC Porto always kept trying to score and could have done it, if Battagle hadn’t stopped Marega’s lob (79m). Sporting, with heart more than mind, tried to tie the match, but Casillas did a fantastic save when Montero seemed ready to start celebrating (86m). What a save! Shortly after, Rafael Leão escaped the blue and white defence and shot outside from good position (89m), but it was written on the stars that the Dragon King would be lord and master of this classic. Undisputed leader of Liga NOS, the players joined the fans in the usual hug and again it was heard: “I want my Porto to be the champion”. For the record, it should be said that Sérgio Conceição matched a feat set by Bobby Robson in 1995/96: 34 consecutive matches without losing for national competitions.