Porto clinches third straight title

FC Porto clinched its third straight Portuguese league title on the final day of the season Sunday after winning 2-0 at 10-man Pacos Ferreira.

Benfica, which lost to Chelsea in the Europa League final last Wednesday, entered the round still in contention but had to settle for second place following Porto’s victory.

After a season-long battle that Porto swung in its favor by inflicting Benfica’s only loss of the season last round, the defending champion finished one point ahead of its fierce rival and with an undefeated record of 24 wins and six draws.

”We are the rightful champions because we deserved it,” said Porto coach Vitor Pereira. ”The league was tightly contested throughout. I want to thank our fans, who were always with us. I am proud of our quality of play and the character my players showed.

”We always stuck together as a team.”

Porto forward Lucho Gonzalez converted a penalty in the 23rd after Ricardo Pinto received a red card to leave Pacos Ferreira with 10 men.

Striker Jackson Martinez sealed Porto’s victory with another goal in the 52nd, before Porto also went down a man when Danilo received a second yellow card four minutes later.

Jackson was the league’s leading scorer with 26 goals.

Porto’s win made Benfica’s 3-1 victory over Moreirense a moot point.

Moreirense struck first, but Benfica rallied through Oscar Cardozo in the 50th before Brazilian striker Lima added more goals in the 80th and stoppage time.

Porto, Benfica, and third-place Pacos Ferreira earned Champions League berths.

Braga finished fifth and Estoril sixth to qualify for the Europa League along with Sporting Lisbon, which was able to salvage a spot in Europe after a dreadful season by winning 4-1 at Beira Mar on Sunday.

Moreirense and Beira Mar were relegated. They will be replaced by Belenenses and Arouca next season after they won promotion from the second division.

Also on the final day, it was: Setubal 0, Braga 1; Nacional 2, Academica 1; Gil Vicente 1, Estoril 3; Olhanense 0, Maritimo 0; and Guimaraes 0, Rio Ave 1.