By Chris Wright
SC Olhanense have surprised the football world by their high profile start to the season.
Following the defeat of V.Setúbal on Saturday evening, the team is in third place in the Premier Liga, only edged out of second spot by Benfica on goal difference.
Scouts from Bayer Leverkusen (Germany), Rennes (France), Sevilha (Spain) and Fulham were still taking their seats at the José Arcanjo Stadium, Olhão, when referee Cosme Machado awarded the home side a 2nd minute penalty for handball.
Silva received the earliest yellow card of the season as Paulo Sérgio prepared to take the spot kick. The visitors watched as the ball sailed over the crossbar but their relief was short lived.
Seven minutes later Paulo Sérgio made amends when he forced Valdomiro to concede a corner. The diminutive winger’s cross was inch perfect as Mauricio headed home. The delight on the centre-back’s face was clear to see after his disastrous mistake at Porto the week before.
Olhanense were in total control and playing some exciting football. Delson’s injury on twenty minute resulted in Rui Duarte taking his place and the rhythm was broken.
But with ten minutes of the first-half to go Vinicius, having an excellent game in midfield, saw his shot well saved by V.Setúbal keeper Diego.
The rebound fell at the feet of João Gonçalves, on the edge of the penalty area. His rasping shot took a slight deflection and past the despairing dive of Diego. 2-0 and the home side and their supporters were enjoying the perfect start to the holiday weekend.
V.Setúbal, who had only shipped three goals in their previous six league outings, were missing the suspended Pitbull and injured Jailson as their attack attempted to gain a foothold.
The visitors used all three substitutes before the start of the second period and they were certainly a changed side as the Olhanense defence was suddenly under pressure. Henrique’s shot cannoned off the upright before a corner by Regula was headed home by Ricardo Silva.
This was the first time for 460 minutes that the Olhanense defence had been breached at home, Maritimo scoring way back in April. Game on.
Cadú, making his debut for Olhanense, was replaced by Mexer as manager Daúto Faquirá endeavoured to bolster his defence. With twenty minutes to go another Paulo Sérgio corner was headed home by Jardel to make it 3-1 and put the result beyond doubt.
Teams now have a two week break from league action with international matches this weekend and Portugal Cup 3rd round games on October 16 and 17.
More than 600 V.Setúbal fans made the journey south as supporters of both clubs joined together to enjoy a festive feast of food and friendship in front of the new Olhão Marina.
The club celebrates its centenary next month and the official supporters’ association is known as VIII Exército. In 1943, on the occasion of Vitória’s first Portugal Cup Final against Benfica, thousands of people from Setúbal invaded Lisbon and, although defeated 5-1, celebrated in a demonstration of fair play.
In the next day’s press, the people from Setúbal were nicknamed 8º Exército (the 8th Army) because of their massive following of the team.
The papers compared it with the British Eighth Army and its World War II campaign in Africa.