Italian Stefania Croce shot a four under 68 for the second day running to claim the second round lead at the Portugal Ladies Open.

The 1992 Ford Ladies Classic champion carded six birdies and two bogeys on another glorious day at Campo Real near Lisbon to advance to eight under par.

The Como resident finished a stroke clear of overnight leader and fellow Italian Sophie Sandolo (71), Denmark’s Iben Tinning (66) and Breanne Loucks of Wales (69).

Croce said that hitting the ball straight and sinking the putts were key factors to her score on the dramatic and hilly course.

“It was putting – and hitting the ball straight off the tee – and good irons close to the pin. I putted a few times for birdie so when they went in, I made six birdies,” said Croce, now in her 22nd season on the Ladies European Tour.

“I think the golf course is great. The greens are true and you have to hit the ball very good. You have to hit some fade shots and draw shots so it demands a good game, I think, this golf course. The wind as well, you have to take into consideration. I think this is a great golf course to make shots.”

Tinning had six birdies in her flawless round of 66 and the five-time tournament champion said: “I’ve played a few weeks in America and I worked really hard over there. I’m just waiting to have a good run.

“Today I had a really good, solid round. Yesterday I had a double and a bogey but I played pretty well.

“You have some good chances; you have some short holes and some challenging ones. All the par fives are reachable and you have a few tricky holes like six, seven, eight. It’s a pretty funny course to play, I think.

“I’m just going to stick to my plan and what I’m working on and if it’s good enough, it’s great; if not, I’m just waiting. I know something good is going to happen this year and if it’s this week: great.”

Sandolo carded four birdies and three bogeys in her attempt to clinch a maiden victory this week on the LET.