Portimonense came through their first home match of the season to record a highly dramatic victory over fellow relegation victims Naval.
An excellent opening spell from the Algarveans culminated in Simi burying a Ruben cross to grab the lead after only 12 minutes.
The visitors managed to recover from that early setback and the game ebbed and flowed with neither side finding the back of the net until the interval.
Naval began the second half the better team, gradually taking control of proceedings whilst still in arrears. Sandro then established parity following a free kick in the 72nd minute and Naval should have gone ahead from the penalty spot a mere 60 seconds later.
But recently signed Portimão keeper Goda was equal to Roberto’s well struck attempt and the score remained tied at one a piece.
That blow to the visitors’ morale was compounded in the 81st minute when referee Duarte Gomes showed Sandro the red card.
Heartened by their numerical superiority, Portimao now pushed forward in search of the winner which Rafa provided with almost the last kick of the encounter to spark wild celebrations on the sparsely populated terraces.
Ironically, the manner of the final 2-1 scoreline represents an exact reversal of the meeting between the two sides last season when Naval ‘stole’ all three points in injury time.
“The team showed great composure throughout the game,” manager João Bastos said afterwards.
“Despite failing to score a second goal on several occasions earlier we are clearly getting better with each match.”
Tomorrow (Saturday) Portimão travel to Estoril for an 8.15 kick-off, shown live on Sport TV1.
They will have to make do without penalty hero Goda, who will be on international duty at the African Nations Championships, but have new Brazilian signings Douglas Maradona- ‘Dodo’- and Vinicius Paqueta available to bolster the squad.