Sporting Clube de Portugal breathed new life into their Portuguese Liga title challenge with an absorbing 3-1 victory over rivals SL Benfica in the Lisbon derby on Sunday.
Back in the hunt
Sporting found themselves behind when Simão Sabrosa broke the deadlock from the penalty spot on 28 minutes, but did not look back after they were awarded a spot-kick of their own midway through the second half. Sà Pinto duly converted and Liedson then scored twice to secure a memorable victory as Sporting successfully came from behind at the Estádio da Luz for the first time in 55 years.
Few would have predicted that outcome before the game given the imperious form of the home side, who had strung eight consecutive wins together over the previous two months, including the victory against Manchester United FC which sent the Portuguese champions through to the first knockout round of the UEFA Champions League. Sporting, on the other hand, had dropped two points in their last home game against SC Marítimo, leaving coach Paulo Bento bemoaning the lack of experience in his side.
However, derby matches seldom adhere to the form book and the one-off nature of this particular fixture has often resulted in victory for the so-called underdogs. The exception proved to be the rule once again as Sporting put in a remarkable display, negating Benfica's attack with some steely defending and launching a series of forays of their own, spearheaded by the lively Liedson. The Brazilian striker's two goals took his personal tally against Benfica to six since arriving at Sporting two seasons ago.
The result has lifted Bento's men up to 37 points, just three points behind Sunday's second-placed opponents and seven short of leaders FC Porto, who were unexpectedly held to a goalless draw away to Rio Ave FC. With Porto yet to visit the Estádio José de Alvalade, Sporting's bid for the Portuguese title is back on track. "We controlled the game and showed that we are a good team and have the quality to become a great team," Bento said. "
This result means we are still fighting for the title."
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