The ‘Dragões’ win the 26th Portuguese title with two rounds left to play.
FC Porto doubled as Portuguese champions on Sunday night after Benfica drew at Rio Ave (2-0), capping a season of ups and downs with the 26th Portuguese premier league title.
Manager Vítor Pereira won his first championship as a top coach, ending a year of doubt and heavy criticism after he was named André Villas-Boas’s successor. Porto faced an early elimination in the Portuguese Cup and was forced out of the UEFA Champions League in the group stage. Relegated to the Europa League and set to the defend the trophy, Porto was ousted by Manchester City in the round of 32.
The club’s grim European performances added to an irregular campaign at home. Only in February did it manage to get back on track and recover a five point deficit to Benfica, while keeping Braga at bay. The high point took place at Estádio da Luz, where the northerners beat their rivals 3-2, marking a turning point in the league.
Despite wining the championship, Pereira has failed to convince all of Porto’s supporters and has had his actions closely scrutinised. The manager was heavily criticised throughout the season but retained the trust and support of club chairman Pinto da Costa, who stuck to his choice as the replacement for Villas-Boas.
Porto played their part on the weekend, emerging victorious at Estádio dos Barreiros, in Funchal, Madeira island. Two spot-kicks converted by Hulk were enough to put the pressure on Benfica.
The ‘Águias’ entered the pitch on Sunday evening knowing that failure to win the match would be as good as handing Porto the title on a silver platter. Rio Ave took an early lead and Benfica placed two quick goals to turn the scoreboard, but in the end failed to keep ahead. Porto celebrated the conquest of the title off the pitch and thousands took to the streets to hail the players and join the feast.