With a goal from Herrera and another from the inevitable Aboubakar, FC Porto beat Belenenses at home, 2-0, this Saturday, and reached the tenth victory in 11 matches for Liga NOS, in a match they dominated from start to end. With a third of the season remaining, the blue and whites are alone at the top of the table, with 30 goals scored and only four conceded, and comfortably wait to see what the more direct rivals, Sporting and Benfica, do on Sunday.
Less than 72 hours after beating Leipzig at home, 3-1, the returned to Estádio do Dragão, this time without Danilo, Corona and Marega, who had started against the German vice-champions. The Portuguese international, who was called for national duty, along with José Sá and Ricardo, and that last Wednesday played his 100th match in blue and white, was banned following his fifth yellow card for the league – shown during the match against Boavista (3-0) –, and replaced by Reyes, who made his debut in the starting team in this edition of the championship, as did Hernâni and André André, the other two news in the team called by Sérgio Conceição.
The match started alive, with the ball going around both goals: first Herrera, in a header, narrowly missed the target, then Hernâni forced Muriel to a good save, and, on the other hand, Diogo Viana, alone in front of José Sá, also was unable of opening the scoreboard. It was a period of eight minutes with back and forth, but that quickly ended in a clear dominance for FC Porto. Even if Belenenses concentrated almost all the team in the last 30 meters, still creating difficulties to the blue and white defence from time to time, the Dragons created several situations to score, that didn’t end up in goals, either for lack of effectiveness or because the last pass failed.
The blue and white goal seemed imminent and ended up coming close to the break, following a set piece, as so many times happened this season: the corner was taken by Alex Telles – who, on the previous second, forced Belenenses’ goalkeeper to a great defense – and the ball ended in Herrera, who made it count and scored his first goal in the 2017/18 Portuguese League.
In the second-half, the opponent came back more daring, as they moved slightly up and found a less effective FC Porto in terms of passes, decisions, reaction when losing the ball and therefore less capacity to control the match. The Dragons were starting to feel the fatigue caused by the demanding match for the UEFA Champions League, and Sérgio Conceição stepped up: he sent in Corona, and later Galeno and Sérgio Oliveira, just after going in, could have sentenced the match, but goalkeeper Muriel denied him of the glory.
The Brazilian goalkeeper was powerless, though, close to the end of the match, when Aboubakar dribbled André Geraldes, and finished, with all the class in the world, a counterattack that killed the match, as had already happened with Leipzig (89m).
The championship will now stop due to national duty, and only returns on the 25th, with the Dragons facing Desportivo das Aves away (20h30). Before that, the calendar includes a home match against Portimonense, for the Portuguese Cup (November 17, 20h30), and a trip to Turkey, to face Besiktas for the Champions League.