Sporting Lisbon wins first Portuguese title in 19 years, fans clash with riot police

Striker Paulinho struck the only goal of the game in the 36th minute and Ruben Amorim's side saw out the win to claim the club's 19th league title.

Members of Sporting CP celebrate with the trophy after winning the Portuguese League.   -  REUTERS

Sporting was crowned Portuguese champion for the first time since 2002 when it beat Boavista 1-0 at home on Tuesday.

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Striker Paulinho struck the only goal of the game in the 36th minute and Ruben Amorim's side saw out the win to claim the club's 19th league title and interrupt rivals Porto and Benfica's 19-year stranglehold on the championship.

Sporting, who is still unbeaten with two games left, has 82 points after 32 matches, an unassailable eight-point advantage over second-placed Porto.

Soon after the match, fans spread across the city and thousands gathered in Lisbon's main square, Marques do Pombal, one of the stops where Sporting players paraded the trophy on an open-top bus.

Some broke down metal barriers put in place to keep them from getting too close to the bus, prompting riot police to fire rubber bullets and use batons to disperse the crowd.

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Ambulances rushed to the square to help several fans who were injured.

Some fans threw glass bottles and smoke bombs towards police officers and journalists.

Sporting fans celebrate inside a safety box as they clash with riot police after Sporting CP won the Portuguese football League.   -  AFP

 

No fans were allowed to enter the stadium due to COVID-19 restrictions. Outside the stadium and around Lisbon some supporters ditched face masks, while maintaining social-distancing became close to impossible as more people showed up.

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Police had warned fans not to gather in large groups and urged them to practice social distancing and wear a mask at all times, with spokesman Domingos Antunes saying he hoped the celebration would not turn into a "nightmare".

Although the title celebrations ended with clashes, some younger fans amongst the huge gathering outside the stadium on Tuesday evening had an unforgettable night: the first time they experienced their club winning the title.

"It is an incredible happiness that cannot be explained," overjoyed 20-year-old Diogo Carregosa told Reuters. "I waited a long time for this moment."

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who plays for Juventus, took to social media to congratulate Sporting, where he began his career. "Many congratulations champions," he wrote on Instagram.

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