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Season review: Portugal

Published: Friday 14 June 2013, 9.00CET
FC Porto clinched a third consecutive title, without losing a match, while Vitória SC made it a memorable season by lifting the Portuguese Cup at the expense of SL Benfica.
by José Nuno Pimentel
from Lisbon
Season review: Portugal
The Porto players revel in their championship win ©AFP/Getty Images
Published: Friday 14 June 2013, 9.00CET

Season review: Portugal

FC Porto clinched a third consecutive title, without losing a match, while Vitória SC made it a memorable season by lifting the Portuguese Cup at the expense of SL Benfica.

FC Porto retained the title without losing a game to lift their 27th Liga crown, finishing a point above SL Benfica. It was also a season to remember for Vitória SC who claimed the Portuguese Cup for the first time in their history. Meanwhile, Alan's penalty was enough for SC Braga to see off ten-man Porto and win the Portuguese League Cup. 

Champions: FC Porto
Four points off the lead with seven to play, the Dragons' championship aspirations were fading until frontrunners Benfica drew 1-1 at home to GD Estoril-Praia on 6 May. The rivals met five days later in what proved a winner-takes-all showdown – Kelvin's added-time strike securing a vital 2-1 victory for hosts Porto. Vítor Pereira's men subsequently held their nerve on the last day, winning 2-0 at surprise third-place finishers FC Paços de Ferreira (whose coach Paulo Fonseca has now replaced Pereira). It compounded a miserable period for the Eagles, beaten 2-1 by a last-gasp Chelsea FC goal in the UEFA Europa League final four days before the league finale. 

Cup final: SL Benfica 1-2 Vitória SC
Benfica began the 26 May showpiece desperate for silverware and went ahead in fortunate circumstances on the half-hour. Attempting to clear, Vitória defender Kanu fired the ball against Nicolás Gaitán and it trickled slowly into the net. Everything changed after half-time, however. Benfica continued to enjoy the bulk of the possession, but there was little pace or penetration to their play and Guimarães turned things around in the space of two minutes. First, El Arbi Hillel Soudani escaped the Eagles' defence and beat Artur to equalise on 79 minutes. Then Ricardo Pereira added a second when his cross deflected in off Luisão. It resulted in a first-ever Portuguese Cup win for Rui Vitória's team.

European places*
FC Porto – UEFA Champions League group stage
SL Benfica – UEFA Champions League group stage
FC Paços de Ferreira – UEFA Champions League play-off
Vitória SC – UEFA Europa League group stage
SC Braga – UEFA Europa League play-off
GD Estoril-Praia – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round

*subject to final confirmation from UEFA

©AFP/Getty Images

Jackson Martínez proved a huge success

Player of the year: Jackson Martínez (FC Porto)
"I am going to make my own piece of history," proclaimed the Colombia forward after joining Porto from Jaguares de Chiapas last August. He would be true to his word, ending the campaign with 26 Liga goals – one more than Falcao mustered in 2009/10. While Jackson's impact was immediate – scoring the winner in the 1-0 Portuguese Super Cup defeat of A. Académica de Coimbra – his form was enduring, the 26-year-old notching the final goal of the season against Paços de Ferreira. 

One to watch: Eliaquim Mangala (FC Porto)
The imposing central defender had featured just 14 times in all competitions in 2011/12, but matured to become a key member of Pereira's side. "I've developed a lot in 18 months, both tactically and technically," said the 22-year-old, who endeared himself to the Porto faithful by netting against Benfica in January's 2-2 stalemate in Lisbon. The French-born, Belgian-raised player – signed from R. Standard de Liège in August 2011 – was rewarded for his progress with international recognition in France's June friendlies against Uruguay and Brazil. "Mangala is part of a new generation, a young player with huge potential to play at the highest level," said Les Bleus boss Didier Deschamps.

Surprise package: FC Paços de Ferreira
Few could have predicted the northern outfit would earn a UEFA Champions League berth by coming third in the table. Two sixth-place finishes, in 2003 and 2007, were the sum of their previous feats but a record haul of 54 points ensured that history was made. Paulo Fonseca, making his debut as a top-flight coach, nurtured a solid team with the ability to keep possession and exchange sharp precise passes, while midfield magicians Josué, Vítor da Silva and Manuel José sparkled. Former Porto player Costinha now has the task of carrying on Fonseca's work.

Leading scorer: Jackson Martínez, FC Porto (26)

Relegated: Moreirense FC, SC Beira-Mar

Promoted: CF Os Belenenses, FC Arouca

Number: 1
Porto have suffered just one Liga loss in three years, 3-1 at Gil Vicente FC in January 2012.

Quote
"Nobody in this country believes Benfica will drop points on Monday against Estoril." The famous last words of Porto coach Pereira two days before Benfica's fatal 1-1 home draw with Estoril-Praia

Last updated: 14/06/13 13.27CET

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