A single goal, brilliantly created for Haris Seferovic by Pizzi, was enough to win a one of the worst games of football ever played. As a consequence, Benfica moves above both Porto and Braga to the top of the table.
The match started slowly and decreased in pace thereafter, neither side able to create a chance during a miserable first half enlivened only by a few nice fouls. One of those, by Cristian Lema - making his league debut for Benfica - on Marega, earned him a yellow card, a chip he later cashed in with a further foul on Pereira.
Nothing much changed in the second half, until, on 62 minutes, Pizzi contorted his body to cushion a wonderful header - from just above the ground - into the path of Seferovic, who kept his composure to punch home a decent finish.
Even that was not enough to rouse Porto and nor, on 83 minutes was Lema's red card - he was harshly sent-off for a second bookable offence. In the closing stages, they did have a couple of headers from set-pieces, but Odysseas did not have a single serious save to make. As such, Benfica won their first O Clássico for nearly four years, and the question now is whether they can challenge for the title.
What were Porto playing at? Their performance was an absolute disgrace, lacking every single attribute one would want and every single attribute one would expect. They played with neither skill nor urgency, and allowed an equally poor Benfica side a morale-boosting win without testing their resolve. Stern words are required.
MAN OF THE MATCH
PIzzi (Benfica) The only player on the pitch who looked likely to make anything happen, his assist for the goal was brilliant, the only moment of class in the match.
Benfica's Portuguese midfielder Pizzi (L) vies with Porto's Malian forward Moussa Marega during the Portuguese league football match between SL Benfica and FC Porto at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on October 7, 2018.
32’ - Neither side has got remotely close to scoring here, but Marega finds space down the right, skirting around Lema who marks his league debut with a scything foul for which he's booked. I enjoyed that, relatively speaking.
43’ - What a miss! Porto step up, and one touch from Pizzi, onto a pass from Gabriel, sends Seferovic through! He's offiside but the flag stays down as he opens his body and very deliberately sidefoots past the far post.
60’ - A shot! A save! Seferovic, in an offside position, lays back Gabriel, and he drives a low shot that Casillas dives to shove away. My commentator makes out like it's Banks from Pele.
62’ - GOAL! Benfica 1-0 Porto (Seferovic) Gabriel lifts a ball over the top, and Pizzi dives and contorts brilliantly to cushion a low header into Seferovic's path; he holds off Militao and Felipe to punch a sidefooter inside the near post. We have ourselves a ball-game!
74’ - Porto win a corner down the right, driver to the near post ... and Danilo is up but can only head wide, so he crosses himself by way of compensation and commiseration.
83’ - RED CARD! Lema, who was booked in the first half, swings a boot as Andre Pereira breaks past him onto the ball. He catches him, but not hard - Pereira was asking for the ref before he'd even hit the ground - and the ref should really have let it slide, given it was fair for him to make the challenge but he didn't and couldn't, so Benfica have to see out the final bit with 10 men. What a debut that is for their summer signing!
86’ - Sergio tries a volley when a clearance falls onto his laces, and when it's blocked, Sergio picks up the loose ball on the left of the box He shimmies inside and spanks a curler just wide of the far post.
88’ - Porto have woken up! They win a free-kick out on the right and Sergio curls in hard to the far post, where Militao is up ... but he can only head high.