Sunday, 20 April 2014 | MYT 5:12 AM

Sporting cling to title hopes, reach Champions League

(Reuters) - Sporting clung to their outside Portuguese title hopes and made sure of a place in next season's Champions League group stage with a 1-0 win at Belenenses on Saturday.

A draw or defeat for Sporting would have handed Benfica the title but the Eagles' celebrations were postponed by Adrien Silva's second-half penalty.

Benfica will still clinch the title if they beat bottom club Olhanense at home on Sunday (1700 GMT) and even after that they still have two more matches to get the two points they need.

Benfica, who last won the championship in 2010, have 70 points from 27 games with Sporting, who have guaranteed second place, on 66 from 28. Porto are a distant third with 55. Head-to-head records decide positions when teams are level on points.

Silva slotted home the penalty in the 52nd minute after Carlos Mane was tripped by Joao Meira.

Relegation-threatened Belenenses fought hard on a bumpy pitch and Fernando Ferreira forced an excellent save from Sporting goalkeeper Rui Patricio midway through the second half.

The visitors had to play the last 10 minutes with 10 men after Argentina's Marcos Rojo was sent off for a scything tackle.

Belenenses are 14th in the 16-team table, one point and one place above Pacos de Ferreira in the relegation playoff spot.

Pacos were thrashed 5-0 at home by fifth-placed Nacional with Venezuela forward Mario Rondon scoring a second-half hat-trick for the Madeira side.

(Reporting By Brian Homewood; Editing by Rex Gowar)


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