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Marega found the way to the leadership

3-1 victory over Marítimo, with two goals for the Malian, guarantees the Dragons will end the year in front of Liga NOS

FC Porto will spend the New Year in the lead, thanks to the two goals Marega scored, after the Malian unlocked the match against Marítimo, in a 3-1 victory at Estádio do Dragão this Monday. The blue and whites - who only play for Liga NOS again on January 3, 2018, at the home of Feirense - dominated the match, but still allowed the opponent to reach the draw after Reyes opened the scoreboard on minute 19. Marega made it 2-1 just before the break and confirmed the victory close to the last ten minutes, in both cases masterfully assisted by Brahimi.

FC Porto sent in the same team that faced Setúbal eight days ago and only had two changes (José Sá in goal and Brahimi in the attack) in comparison to the home match on Thursday against Vitória de Guimarães. Marítimo - who went on the pitch with the league's fourth-best defensive record, with only ten goals conceded - organized into a 5-4-1, which expanded a bit in ball possession, but still aimed at slowing the pace, and, if possible , avoiding the goal.

When the Dragons settled their game, after 15 minutes, dangerous situations happened and the team from Madeira lived minutes of heavy pressure, stopping them from going up and playing. Reyes and his goal, 19 minutes in (in a header following a corner-kick taken by Alex Telles) were predictable. It was the first goal for the Mexican with the blue and white jersey.

What happened seven minutes later did not seem written in the stars: in the first attack with danger, the visitors reached the tie, in a strange move in which José Sá makes a first save and then Fábio Pacheco watches as the ball touches Reyes and goes for goal.

Marítimo was already doing all they could to break the pace, but moved further back after being reduced to ten men, as Gamboa was sent off, on minute 39, after seeing two yellows cards in three minutes. Marcano was close to giving the lead back to the Dragons two minutes later, but the 2-1 only came in stoppage time, thanks to a crossed shot from Marega, served by Brahimi. It was the first time Marítimo conceded two goals in the first-half in 2017/18.

The second-half turned out to be less interesting than the first: Marítimo was never able to scare Jose Sá and, with one less man, they didn’t take any chances. FC Porto, of course, continued to dominate and created several opportunities to extend their lead, but only sealed the match 78 minutes in, with Marega - 12th goal in the season - again running at the back of the opposing defence and finishing with quality.

With 15 matches to go, FC Porto as yet to lose (along with Sporting, with the same 39 points), has the best attack (39 goals scored) and the best defence (six goals conceded), having scored 17 goals in the last four matches. The continuation of this steamroller is expected in 2018 and, of course, in the two matches still missing before the end of the year, both for the League Cup. The next one is already on Thursday (21h15), at Estádio do Dragão, against Rio Ave.

See match report