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Benfica edge towards title but Porto stay on their heels


Benfica stayed on track to win a fifth league title in six seasons after earning a hard-fought 3-2 win at Rio Ave in the Portuguese championship on Sunday.

However, the title race will go down to the wire as Porto thrashed Nacional 4-0 to stay two points behind their arch rivals heading into the final weekend of the season.

Benfica lead the standings on 84 points and need to beat Santa Clara at home next week to ensure they claim the title, while Porto, who have 82, host third-placed Sporting.

Benfica could have mathematically sealed the title on Sunday had Porto failed to beat Nacional but instead went into their match under pressure to win and made a dream start when Rafa Silva scuffed the ball over the line in the third minute.

They were fortunate to double their lead on the stroke of halftime as they counter-attacked when Rio Ave had a penalty appeal turned down and midfielder Joao Felix tapped into the net after the ball squirmed out goalkeeper Leonardo’s hands.

Rio Ave midfielder Tarantini struck back early in the second half to fire a warning to Benfica but they soon restored their two-goal cushion when midfielder Pizzi rolled a shot in off the post, although Ronan pulled a late goal back for the home side.

Last year’s champions Porto enjoyed a far more comfortable win in their game at Nacional, taking a 2-0 lead in the first half with strikes from Alex Telles and Oliver Torres.

Goals from Jesus Corona and Moussa Marega, the latter from the penalty spot, completed the rout after the interval.

REUTERS/Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris

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