Portimonense – Lion slayers!
PORTIMONENSE 4-2 SPORTING
Sporting’s title hopes were dealt a severe blow as Shoya Nakajima inspired Portimonense to a convincing victory over the Lisbon giants at the municipal stadium last Sunday night.
Close to 6,000 fans watched manager António Folha’s men quickly gain the upper hand as the first half unfolded, a first start for Jackson Martinez almost paying off just before the half-hour mark as the Colombian superstar only just failed to connect with a Tabata cross, the goal at his mercy.
The warning went unheeded by the visitors, and Manafá made sure there was no second let-off four minutes later, burying his powerful shot from a Shoya Nakajima lay-off, to give Portimonense the lead.
The by-now on-fire Japanese 24-year-old, clearly not satisfied with a ‘mere’ supporting role, went on to test Salin in the Sporting goal before combining superbly with Paulinho and Manafá to double the home advantage with a clinical strike of his own. The unfortunate Salin collided with the post during his futile attempt at a save and was replaced by second choice keeper Renan Ribeiro as the interval beckoned.
The introduction of Nani for the second playing period gave Sporting some much-needed impetus and the veteran Portuguese international provided the cross which allowed Montero to reduce the deficit in the 63rd minute.
With the score now 2-1, the visitors went in search of an equaliser, Leo saving well from Gudelj before the Portimonense defence weathered further pressure resulting from a quick succession of corner kicks. But the resurgence proved to be short-lived, Jackson failing to get his free header on target before Nakajima experienced no such problems when converting from the edge of the area for his second and Portimonense’s third of the night.
Brief Sporting hopes raised by Coates, reducing arrears once more from another Nani cross in the 88th minute making it 3-2, were snuffed out soon after, however; Nakajima reverting to provider for João Carlos, replacing Jackson, the young Brazilian netting in injury time to establish the final 4-2 score line.
It has been 10 years since Sporting conceded four goals in a top division fixture, and Portimonense’s feat, marked by another outstanding Shoya Nakajima performance, was closely followed by scouts representing the likes of Seville, Olympiacos (Greece), Crystal Palace and Excelsior (Holland). Keeping the Japan international in the Algarve will prove almost impossible come January, but for now fans continue to be in for a treat every time Shoya is on the ball.
The win has lifted Portimonense into a mid-table position, and there will be another international break before hostilities are resumed on October 26 against Nacional in Madeira.
By SKIP BANDELE