Benfica Crowned League Champions for Third Consecutive Season after Thrashing Nacional

Liga NOS

May 15th

Estádio Da Luz, Lisboa, Portugal

Logo SL Benfica 4-1 nacional

23′ Gaitán

39′ Jonas

64′ Gaitán

84′ Pizzi

90’+1′ Agra

Benfica won their third consecutive league title for the first time since 1977 after thrashing Nacional 4-1 at the Estádio Da Luz. The League title was their 35th all-time, the most in Portuguese history and their first title under new manager Rui Vitória in his first season at the club.

Goals from Nicolás Gaitán, Jonas and Pizzi ensured the Águias defended their title for the second season in a row despite a late consolation from Salvador Agra. The victory preserved their two-point lead over second-placed neighbours Sporting, who thrashed ten-men Braga.

The hosts started incredibly brightly but despite all their dominance it was the visitors who nearly went ahead. In the ninth minute, Mauro Cerqueira cut the ball back to Agra who sliced wide when he really should have hit the target at the very least.

With the scores still goalless at the Estádio Da Luz, attentions turned to the Estádio AXA in Braga where Sporting went ahead. As it stood, it would be Sporting taking the crown. However within minutes of Sporting’s opener, Benfica went ahead themselves to calm the nerves. In the 23rd minute, Pizzi surged forward and luckily managed to take the ball past Eduardo Gottardi with the loose ball falling to Gaitán whose precise finish beat Rui Correira on the goal-line.

gaitan goal
Nicolás Gaitán puts Benfica ahead with a goal that meant they would keep at the top of the league. Image from: O Jogo

Twelve minutes later the hosts should have made it two. A miscued Gaitán cross was flicked-on by youngster Álex Grimaldo into the path of Jonas who volleyed wide – a rare miss for the Brazilian.

However Jonas wasn’t to be denied. Four minutes later, Gaitán wonderfully picked out the Brazilian who managed to get the better of Gottardi who came out to smother the ball only for the ball to ricochet off Jonas and roll into the back of the net. It was the Brazilian’s 32nd goal in the league.

jonas cel
Jonas celebrates with Nicolás Gaitán after doubling Benfica’s lead. Image from: O Jogo

Thanks to the comfortable lead at the break, the hosts already had one hand on the league trophy but wanted to end any glimmer of a Nacional comeback. Immediately after the interval the hosts were in the ascendancy and when Jonas found Mitroglou from a cross it looked as though the Greek international was going to seal the triumph but he could only volley over the bar.

After the hour-mark the Eagles made it three. The visitors lost possession deep in their own half and André Almeida found Jonas who sent in a teasing low cross into the path of Mitroglou who somehow hit the bar from a yard out but Gaitán was on-hand to head home the rebound to put the game to bed and crown the defending champions again.

gaitan TSF Rádio Notícias
Nicolás Gaitán gets his second of the game to wrap up Benfica’s title. Image from: TSF Rádio Notícias

The Eagles then added a fourth late on. Jonas delivered a fine cross into the path of Pizzi who wonderfully volleyed home to cap off a fantastic victory and league season.

pizzi o jogo
Pizzi (Centre) adds a late fourth for the Eagles. Image from: O Jogo

There was still time for the visitors to pull a goal back with Agra cutting-inside to fire past substitute goalkeeper Paulo Lopes at his near-post.

The result meant that Benfica won their third consecutive league title since 1977 finishing on 88 points, a new record points tally. It was Vitória’s first piece of silverware for the Eagles and they still have another piece up for grabs in the Taça da Liga against Marítimo. The result for Nacional meant that they remained in 11th on 38 points.

S.L. Benfica vs C.D. Nacional

S.L. Benfica vs C.D. Nacional Player Ratings


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