By Chris Wright
Thirty seconds on the clock and Olhanense were behind at the Stadium of Light. Ten minutes later and a rampant Benfica team were 2-0 up.
By the end of the first period, the league’s joint leaders could have had six and statisticians were looking to the record books to see that Benfica had beaten Olhanense 8-1 back in 1964!
My day had started well enough. Not being able to travel to Lisbon I was browsing in the Tavira monthly antique market when I spied a large bundle of old A BOLA, Portugal’s top daily football paper. I came across a copy for Saturday, September 21, 1974, the last and only time that Olhanense had escaped from the Estádio da Luz with a point when they drew 2-2.
Could this be an omen? In those days the old stadium, demolished in 2003, attracted massive crowds highlighted by the 135,000 spectators who saw the Benfica v Porto game in January 1987.
On this occasion, there were 35,319 including several hundred vociferous Olhanense fans who never stopped cheering their team.
Olhanense were on the back foot from the start and when Gaitán skipped down the right wing and whipped over a centre for Rodrigo to slot home, with less than a minute gone, the omens were not looking good.
The visitors were left chasing shadows and it was no surprise when Benfica increased their lead on 12 minutes. Once again the ‘Águias’ (Eagles) surged down the right and caused mayhem in the Olhanense defence. Mexer’s attempted clearance was finally headed home by Rodrigo, his second of the game.
The remainder of the first half passed without further goals which will forever remain a mystery even though Olhanense keeper Fabiano Freitas, on loan from Benfica, was in superb form.
After 39 minutes, manager Daúto Faquirá had seen enough and took off the ineffectual Figueroa to replace him with Salvador Agra. Dady made way for Nuno Piloto at the break.
A more purposeful Algarvean team started the second-half and within minutes a pinpoint cross from skipper João Gonçalves was turned home by Wilson Eduardo, his fourth of the season.
Olhanense were now retaining possession and Salvador Agra was worrying the home defence. Benfica desperately looked for a third goal to kill the game off but it was the visitors who so nearly snatched a late equaliser.
Djalmir replaced Mateus with fifteen minutes remaining. In stoppage time a cross into the heart of the Benfica penalty area from Wilson Eduardo was controlled by Djalmir.
The veteran striker turned and shot but the solid Benfica centre-back Luisão slid across to divert the ball for a corner.
FIREWORKS TOMORROW NIGHT
UEFA Europa League Champions FC Porto will be a stern test for Olhanense tomorrow night (Saturday) at the José Arcanjo Stadium, Olhão (behind McDonalds on the EN125). Kick-off: 8.30pm. Tickets (€12.50, €17.50, €25 and €30) can be purchased on the day but fans should arrive at least an hour before kick-off.
ESTORIL IN THE LEAGUE CUP
Olhanense travelled to 2nd Division Estoril in the 1st leg and went down 4-3 after holding a 3-2 lead. Several fringe players were given a run out and the goals came from Toy, Ivanildo and Djalmir.
The 2nd leg is on Wednesday, November 9 in Olhão, kick-off 7.00pm. Socio-members €3, non-members €5 and €7.