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By ESPN Staff
Jan 16, 2007

Benfica beat Academica to close on Sporting

LISBON, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Benfica moved within a point of second-placed Sporting in the Portuguese Premier League with a nervy 2-0 win at Academica on Monday.

Porto, who stretched their lead at the top to seven points by beating lowly Desportivo Aves 2-0 on Sunday, have 40 points from 15 matches at the halfway stage of the season.

Sporting, who drew 0-0 at Belenenses on Saturday, have 33 points with Benfica third on 32 points.

Defender Ricardo Rocha put Benfica ahead by poking home a loose ball after Academica goalkeeper Vitor Nevoa parried a header by Brazilian defender Luisao in the second minute.

Benfica had two 'goals' disallowed in three minutes for offside before striker Nuno Gomes hit the bar in the 37th.

Brazilian defender Leo put the result beyond doubt with when he scored their second with a close-range shot from a long pass by Greek midfielder Katsouranis two minutes from time.

Academica, who are 13th in the 16-team standings and stuck in the relegation zone, came closest to scoring in the first half when striker Miguel Pedro hit the post.