Portugal round-up: Porto stay ahead

Sporting Clube de Portugal took over as FC Porto's main title challengers after defeat for SL Benfica.

Sporting late show
Porto's nearest rivals Sporting Clube de Portugal needed late goals from Pablo Contreras and Marius Niculae to defeat ten-man CS Marítimo. Substitute Pedro Barbosa laid on both, in the 89th minute, after visiting defender Mitchell van der Gaag had been sent off for a second yellow card.

Varzim surprise Benfica
The win lifted Sporting above SL Benfica, who dropped to third place following a 2-1 loss at Varzim SC. Quim Berto's 59th-minute spot-kick sealed the points for upwardly mobile Varzim, whose first-half lead through a Gilmar header had been cancelled out by a Simão Sabrosa penalty. The Benfica scorer was later sent off to compound his team's misery.

Belenenses boost
Meanwhile, Lisbon's third club, CF Os Belenenses, moved level on points with Benfica and into fourth position, with a 1-0 home success against Vitória Guimarães, the season's other surprise package. Brazilian forward Ludemar was the scorer.

Victory for Gil Vicente
One goal was enough for FC Paços de Ferreira at home against UD Leiria, and was also the margin separating Boavista FC and Gil Vicente FC. The 2001 champions were undone by Paulo Alves's strike for the visitors, who went seventh in the table.

Sérgio Conceição stadium
Clube Académica de Coimbra and Vitória Setúbal drew 1-1 in the first match played at the new Estádio Municipal Sérgio Conceição. Naturally, the eponymous Portuguese international attended the opening ceremony at his hometown club.

Coach sacked
Elsewhere, a seventh defeat in ten games cost CD Santa Clara coach Manuel Fernandes his job. Santa Clara went down 3-2 at home to CD Nacional, for whom substitute Carlos Alvarez hit a last-minute winner. Finally, SC Braga and SC Beira-Mar played out a goalless draw in Braga.