Frustrated Benfica Fail To Close Gap On Leaders Due To Goalless Draw In Madeira

Liga NOS

December 15th

Estádio Municipal de Machico, Madeira, Portugal

uniao madeira 0-0 Logo SL Benfica

Champions Benfica failed to close the gap on second-placed Porto as a result of a frustrating goalless draw at the hands of União da Madeira. The Lisbon side could have moved to within three points of Porto, but remain five points behind their fiercest rivals, and now seven points behind city rivals Sporting.

The visitors dominated possession early on as expected, but the home side weren’t shy to attack themselves, looking a threat on the break.

The away side came close in the eight minute when Gonçalo Guedes surged forward only to drag his strike wide. A minute later, the home side almost snatched a lead, a mix-up between Julio César and Jardel almost resulted in an own goal, but it drifted behind for a corner, which amounted to nothing.

However, they came very close from another corner moments later, when Shehu Abdullahi managed to get a free-header, but it was straightforward for César.

In the 25th minute, the visitors came close. An André Almeida cross was met acrobatically on the volley by Guedes, but his effort curled wide. They should have taken the lead soon after when Renato Sanches’ cross ricocheted off Kostas Mitroglou, but Jonas couldn’t divert it goal-wards.

In the 39th minute the away side had an opportunity after Almeida was brought down outside the area. However, Jardel’s header from Pizzi’s delivery sailed over the bar.

That was the last action of a frustrating half for the champions as the referee blew his whistle to bring the first period to an end.

A minute into the restart and the visitors almost found the opener, Mitroglou found space in the area to test André Moreira, who made a good instinctive stop. Soon after, some nice intricate football from the away side saw Jonas find Pizzi, but his effort flew over the bar from a tight angle.

In the 54th minute a long-throw from Almeida eventually made its way to Pizzi, whose first-time shot flew off-target. A couple of minutes later, Sanches found space to fire just over for the visitors.

In the 58th minute, youngster Guedes departed for Mehdi Carcela-González for the visitors.

Past the hour-mark, the champions started to look as if they were going to score and Pizzi almost delivered, but once again, his dipping effort just didn’t dip enough.

A few minutes later, a Pizzi effort was sliced just wide of the near-post, following a set-piece.

In the 71st minute the visitors took Jonas off to be replaced by Raúl Jiménez.

A minute later the home side almost took a shock lead when Abdullahi managed to get another free-header, but again, his header drifted just over the bar.

In the 77th minute, a Pizzi delivery was met by Jiménez, but his effort was always going wide. Soon after the home side opted to make a change, bringing on Miguel Fidalgo for Jhonder Cádiz.

In the 80th minute, the visitors made their third and final change, with Ljubomir Fejsa making way for Anderson Talisca.

In the 83rd minute, Carcela-González combined with Mitroglou, and the substitute managed to get his shot away under pressure, but Moreira made a fine save.

Five minutes later, the home side brought on Danilo Dias for Élio Martins who was stretchered off the pitch.

With six additional minutes, the champions almost snatched a late victory when an Almeida throw-in made its way to Talisca, but the substitute was falling as he made the strike and his effort subsequently missed the target.

The result meant that the home side managed to gain their first point against the Lisbon side. They climb up to 15th on 11 points. The champions remain in third with 28 points, five adrift on Porto and seven behind Sporting.


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