June 30, 2020 / 9:45 AM / 5 days ago

Benfica negotiating to end coach Lage's contract

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Group G - Benfica v Olympique Lyonnais - Estadio da Luz, Lisbon, Portugal - October 23, 2019 Benfica coach Bruno Lage before the match REUTERS/Rafael Marchante/File Photo

LISBON (Reuters) - Benfica are negotiating with coach Bruno Lage to end his contract, the club said in a statement to Portugal’s CMVM market regulator on Tuesday, one day after the team’s recent dismal run continued with a 2-0 defeat at Maritimo.

The club said the talks were aimed at ending Lage’s contract with “immediate effect.” After Monday’s game, club president Luis Filipe Vieira said that Lage had offered his resignation without saying whether it had been accepted.

“Our coach came to me at the end of the game and said with great dignity: ‘President, I am putting myself at your disposal because I understand that things are not good for Benfica,’” Vieira told reporters.

Lage himself gave a separate post-match interview but did not mention that he was resigning.

Benfica, second in the table, have won only one of their five games since the Primeira Liga restarted after the coronavirus stoppage and have dropped six points behind leaders and arch-rivals Porto. They suffered a shock 4-3 home defeat by Santa Clara in their previous match.

Lage was initially appointed as a stop-gap replacement for Rui Vitoria in January last year but was quickly given the job on a long-term basis.

Despite never previously having coached a top-flight side, he led them to their 37th domestic league title with a run of 19 wins and a draw in 20 matches.

(Refiles to add dropped word ‘title’ in last para)

Writing by Brian Homewood; editing by Philippa Fletcher and Hugh Lawson

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