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Cardozo seals title for Benfica

SL Benfica have won their 32nd Portuguese Liga title after a 2-1 victory against Rio Ave FC that came courtesy of two goals from the division's top scorer Óscar Cardozo.

Benfica players celebrate with the trophy after their victory against Rio Ave
Benfica players celebrate with the trophy after their victory against Rio Ave ©Getty Images

The Liga's leading scorer Óscar Cardozo struck twice to give SL Benfica a 2-1 win against Rio Ave FC that proved enough to secure the Lisbon side their 32nd Portuguese title and first in five years.

After failing to wrap up the championship at the first attempt last weekend – losing 3-1 at third-placed FC Porto – Benfica required just a draw to be crowned champions for the first time since 2005. Paraguay striker Cardozo got them on the way after just three minutes, profiting from lax defence before finishing from close range. The visitors' task was made all the more difficult by the 11th-minute dismissal of Wíres but they nevertheless drew level on 69 minutes thanks to a Ricardo Chaves header.

Jorge Jesus was nonetheles able to breathe a sigh of relief with 12 minutes left when Cardozo added another to take his tally for the season to a league-best 26 – one more than Porto's Falcao. Victory was enough for the Eagles to finish the campaign five points clear of SC Braga, who ended with a 1-1 draw at CD Nacional but are still assured of a place in next term's UEFA Champions League third qualifying round. Benfica go straight into the group stage.

"We achieved our goal," said Jesus. "We knew from the first day that it was possible. We did it on the last day with some anxiety. We waited for the right moments but conceded a goal that we didn't expect. It was a difficult match. Benfica deserve this title as we were the team who played the best and most attractive football during the season, ending with the best attack. I think the key moment was the [1-0] win at Nacional [on 14 March]."

Joining Benfica and Braga in European competition next term will be Porto, whose third-place finish earns them a UEFA Europa League third qualifying round berth, and Sporting Clube de Portugal, who will enter the same competition one round earlier.