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Porto's Maicon (C) celebrates his goal against Benfica with teammates Hulk (R) and Kleber during their Portuguese Premier League soccer match at Luz stadium in Lisbon March 2, 2012. REUTERS/Marcos Borga (Marcos Borga/Reuters)
Porto's Maicon (C) celebrates his goal against Benfica with teammates Hulk (R) and Kleber during their Portuguese Premier League soccer match at Luz stadium in Lisbon March 2, 2012. REUTERS/Marcos Borga (Marcos Borga/Reuters)

Maicon header gives Porto late win over Benfica Add to ...

Soccer-Maicon’s late goal helps Porto beat Benfica in Classico LISBON, March 2 (Reuters) - minute winner to give champions Porto a 3-2 victory at fierce rivals Benfica in their top of the table clash on Friday.

Porto’s triumph in the ‘Classico’ gave them 52 points from 21 league matches, three clear of second-placed Benfica.

The visitors started confidently and scored after seven minutes through burly Brazilian Hulk who surprised keeper Artur with a venemous left-foot shot from outside the box.

Benfica had a chance to equalise after 23 minutes but Paraguay striker Oscar Cardozo’s shot was easily saved by Helton.

Cardozo eventually struck five minutes before halftime after finding himself unmarked in the area and the same player made it 2-1 early in the second period when he nodded in a Pablo Aimar free kick.

Porto coach Vitor Pereira then took a gamble, taking off centre back Rolando and bringing on Colombia winger James Rodriguez, and the move paid off.

Rodriguez, 20, ran half the length of the pitch, exchanged passes with Brazilian midfielder Fernando and left-footed the ball into the net after 65 minutes.

Benfica left back Emerson was sent off 12 minutes later and Porto took advantage of the extra man when Maicon towered above the defence to nosd the winner.

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