Porto seal Portuguese title with Benfica win
Monday 04 April 2011
Porto won their 25th Portuguese Premier League title by beating closest challengers Benfica 2-1 at the Luz Stadium in a thrilling, bitterly-contested encounter yesterday. Fredy Guarin and Hulk scored to seal victory for unbeaten Porto, who moved 16 points ahead of their Lisbon rivals with just five games to go.
The title is a remarkable triumph for Porto's young manager Andre Villas Boas. "We battled throughout to show we are the best team even though the press insisted on believing otherwise... but we proved it in this most difficult of venues," the 33-year-old said afterwards. The northern club can become only the second side in their country's history to go through a season unbeaten if they do not lose any of their remaining games.
While Porto can celebrate a title, in Italy Milan feel they are close to doing likewise. The Club's owner Silvio Berlusconi is convinced that "the Scudetto is close" after seeing his side comfortably beat Internazionale 3-0 in the Milan derby on Saturday night. But Inter coach Leonardo, who managed the Rossoneri last year and made more than 100 appearances for them as a player, has refused to concede the Serie A title: "The battle is by no means over, although five points out of a possible 21 won't be easy to make up."
There were concerns going into the game that Milan would miss the suspended Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but a goal in the first minute from Alexandre Pato, who has been romantically linked with Berlusconi's daughter Barbara, put those worries to bed, pouncing on a rebound after Robinho had forced a save from fellow Brazilian Julio César. Pato doubled his tally on the hour mark, shortly after Inter's Christian Chivu had been dismissed.
Serie A surprise package Napoli twice came from behind in a seven-goal thriller against Lazio to move above Inter into second place, and just three points behind Milan. Lazio had taken a 2-0 lead before former Liverpool defender Andrea Dossena and striker Edinson Cavani levelled the game with two quick goals around the hour mark. In a game that ebbed and flowed, Lazio once again took the lead before Giuseppe Biava was sent off for bringing down Cavani in the area. The Uruguayan scored the resulting penalty before netting an 89th-minute winner.
The Barcelona coach, Pep Guardiola, has poured cold water on claims that his side has already wrapped up the La Liga title, after Saturday's 1-0 victory at Villarreal followed Real Madrid's defeat to Sporting Gijon. "Madrid will fight until the end," he said. "We have a good advantage but there are many points to be played for." Gerard Pique scored the only goal to send the Catalan outfit eight points clear at the top. With Villarreal losing, Valencia leapfrogged them into third. Roberto Soldado scored four second-half goals against Getafe in a 4-2 victory.
In the Bundesliga, leaders Borussia Dortmund won for the first time in almost a month, beating Hannover 4-1. That result allowed Bayern Munich to sneak into the Champions League qualification spots ahead of Hannover, Arjen Robben's single goal enough to give them a narrow victory over Borussia Monchengladbach. In France, Lille boosted their title hopes with a 3-1 win over Caen.
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