June 17, 2020 / 1:10 AM / 19 days ago

Porto title hopes hit in goalless draw with Aves

Soccer Football - Primeira Liga - Desportivo das Aves v FC Porto - Desportivo do Desportivo das Aves Club complex, Vila das Aves, Portugal - June 16, 2020. Aves' Estrela in actionwith FC Porto's Pepe, following the resumption of play behind closed doors after the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Jose Coelho/Pool via REUTERS

LISBON (Reuters) - Porto’s title hopes suffered a setback on Tuesday as they squandered a penalty in a goalless draw at bottom placed Desportivo Aves, opening the way for champions Benfica to regain the lead of Portugal’s Primeira Liga.

Porto advanced to 64 points but perennial rivals Benfica can overtake them on goal difference if they win at Rio Ave on Wednesday.

Porto spent all the game on the offensive against their relegation-haunted hosts but were stymied by some stout defending and a penalty save early in the match.

Porto were awarded a spotkick in the 19th minute after home goalkeeper Fabio Szymonek was adjudged to have taken out Otavio as he came out to punch clear a high ball in his area.

Yet Ze Luis’ subsequent effort was easily stopped by the giant Brazilian, who made a series of key saves near the end of the game to secure the point.

Porto were handed another penalty in the 50th minute but the referee’s decision was overturned after VAR showed there was an offside in the build-up to the incident.

The draw ended a run of five successive defeats for Aves, but with only 14 points and seven matches remaining, they still look likely to be relegated.

Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing Toby Davis

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