Benfica part company with coach Jorge Jesus

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Benfica sacked coach Jorge Jesus due to a series of poor results and reported rifts with leading players (AFP/PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA)

Portuguese club Benfica have sacked coach Jorge Jesus amid a series of poor results and a reported rift with some of the team's top players, the club announced on Tuesday.

Benfica said the club had reached agreement with Jesus "for the termination of his contract with immediate effect", adding reserves coach Nelson Verissimo takes over until the end of the season.

The Lisbon-based club qualified for the Champions League knockout rounds, along with Bayern Munich and at the expense of Barcelona, but have since had a run of bad results at home this month.

They are third in the league table four points behind reigning league champions Sporting Lisbon and arch-rivals Porto, the latter despite being reduced to 10 men also knocked them out of the Portuguese Cup last Friday.

The club also had to dismiss rumours of Jesus agreeing to return to former Brazilian club Flamengo.

Jesus first coached Benfica between 2009 and 2015, winning three league titles and reaching two Europa League finals, before leaving the club to join Sporting Lisbon.

After a stint with Saudi side Al Hilal he enjoyed great success at the helm of Flamengo, winning five trophies in just over a year 2019-2020 -- the Copa Libertadores, the Brazilian Championship and Super Cup, the South American Super Cup and the Rio State Championship of Janeiro.

The 67-year-old left the Rio club to return to Benfica in July 2020, explaining he wanted to return to Portugal when Brazil was gripped by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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