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Portugal round-up: Porto pulling away

FC Porto have a six-point lead and a game in hand over SL Benfica going into the winter break.

FC Porto have a six-point lead and a game in hand over SL Benfica going into the Portuguese Super Liga's winter break following a 2-0 away victory over Varzim SC at the weekend.

Seven wins
José Mourinho's side, who face Turkish club Denizlispor in the fourth round of the UEFA Cup, made it seven straight wins with their win at the Varzim stadium, reinforcing the club's bid for their first Portuguese title since 1998/99. Winger Nuno Capucho ended a 26-match goal drought to open the scoring with a header from Deco's corner after 20 minutes, and Deco was also involved in the second goal, crossing for Costinha to head past goalkeeper Miguel with ten minutes remaining.

Benfica held
Porto were able to extend their advantage after second-placed Benfica could only manage a goalless draw with Boavista at the Bessa stadium on Friday evening. Despite Boavista's current 14th place in the standings, the Porto-based club controlled much of the game, with Brazilian strikers Elpídeo Silva and Luiz Cláudio bringing fine saves from Benfica goalkeeper José Moreira.

Guimarães march on
Vitória Guimarães continue to be the surprise package of the season and moved up to third place with a 2-0 home win against CS Marítimo on Monday evening. Augusto Inácio's side leapfrogged champions Sporting Clube de Portugal thanks largely to a fine display by central defender Ricardo Silva. His pass set up winger Carlos Fangueiro for the first goal on 43 minutes, before a clever headed pass midway through the second half allowed captain Cléber to score from close range. To add insult to injury for Marítimo, the Funchal outfit had Junior sent off in the final minute.

João Pinto double
Sporting are back in fourth place, nine points behind Porto, following a comfortable 2-0 home victory over CD Nacional. Last season's league and cup winners have struggled to find top gear this term and needed a double strike from João Pinto to see off their mid-table opponents. The Portuguese international converted a cross from Ricardo Quaresma after 20 minutes to settle the hosts' nerves, before adding a second after more good work from Quaresma 12 minutes into the second half.

Chance taken
Gil Vicente FC made the most of a slip by CF Os Belenenses to move into sixth position following their 3-1 defeat of SC Beira-Mar. Veteran striker Paulo Alves scored twice, once from the penalty spot, with the other Gil Vicente goal being scored by defensive midfield player Luís Loureiro. Senegalese striker Fary Faye did pull one back for the visitors but the points were destined to stay in Barcelos.

Surprise defeat
Belenenses dropped a place to seventh following their surprise 3-1 home defeat at the hands of UD Leiria. The visitors took the lead through midfield player Fernando Aguiar - his fourth goal in as many matches - after 19 minutes. Nuno Laranjeiro doubled the advantage eight minutes later, his classy free-kick capping a superb Super Liga debut. Belenenses reduced the deficit through winger Verona on 42 minutes, but Leiria striker Márcio Santos restored Leiria's two-goal advantage on the stroke of half-time.

Aldo leaves it late
CD Santa Clara needed a dramatic late goal from defender Aldo to earn a share of the spoils in their match at Moreirense FC. Ceará had given Santa Clara a fourth-minute lead, but goals from Armando and Afonso Martins put the hosts ahead in Moreira de Cónegos until Aldo's timely intervention.

First away defeat
In the weekend's remaining fixtures, FC Paços de Ferreira and Clube Académica de Coimbra were unable to break the deadlock at the Mata Real stadium, while SC Braga inflicted a first away defeat of the season on Vitória Setúbal, defender Paulo Jorge scoring the only goal of the match after eight minutes.

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