Brave Olhanense.jpg

Brave Olhanense

By CHRIS WRIGHT [email protected]

FC Porto were in town on Sunday with their array of international talent. It was Jorge Costa, former Porto hero, now manager of Olhanense who would do battle with Jesualdo Ferreira who had led Porto to top spot in Liga Sagres for the last three seasons.

Some 8,000 fans gave both teams a rousing reception as they emerged into the newly-refurbished José Arcanjo Stadium in Olhão on Sunday evening in front of the TV cameras.

Porto were not taking this game lightly and started with eight full internationals – Helton (Brazil), Bruno Alves, Raul Meireles, Rolando (Portugal), Belluschi, Fucile, Alvaro Pereira (Uruguay) and Falcão (Colombia).

If that wasn’t enough, Olhanense also had to contend with the giant Givanildo Vieira de Souza, ‘Hulk’, who acquired the nickname when he played for Tokyo Verdy (Japan) who play in green. Hulk scored no fewer than 40 goals in 15 league appearances in Japan, which persuaded FC Porto to sign him for six million euros in the summer of 2008.

Olhanense’s young side were soon under the cosh and it was no surprise when the prolific goal scorer Falcão headed home Belluschi’s cross in the 13th minute. Bruno Verissimo, making his first start of the season in place of the suspended Ventura, was in fine form saving well from Raul Meireles and former Liverpool player Fucile.

The home side had few opportunities in the first period but Carlos Fernandes did hit the bar on one of their rare attacks. Porto should have increased their lead on the half hour mark when Hulk was put through by Belluschi. Bruno Verissimo is not the tallest goalkeeper in the league and as ‘Goliath’ charged towards ‘David’ it appeared there could be only one outcome but it was the Olhanense custodian who came out on top with a perfectly timed interception.

Porto’s Álvaro Pereira was then lucky to escape with only a yellow card from referee Pedro Henriques after clashing with Ukra. In the last minute of the first half, Porto increased their lead when captain Bruno Alves headed home from close in. Alves played 46 times for local rivals Farense (Faro) between 2001 and 2003 and the Olhanense fans didn’t let him forget it.

Olhanense had had a poor first half. Jorge Costa took off Toy and Rui Baião and brought on Greg Nwokolo and Guga. After the break, the home side started with more purpose and caused the Porto defence problems, particularly down the left. The home side felt they should have had a penalty when Rabiola was upended by Bruno Alves in the box and later Rui Duarte’s dipping free-kick cannoned off the bar.

Ukra was having a quiet game while Miguel Garcia continues to grow in stature. As Olhanense pressed forward they were leaving gaps at the back which Porto failed to capitalise on with Bruno and the woodwork coming to their rescue on several occasions.

With five minutes to go the visitors sealed the three points when Falcao netted his second of the match and his 7th in the league this season. He had also scored in Porto’s impressive 2-0 UEFA Champions League victory over Athletico Madrid the previous week.

Olhanense have now played three of the top teams in the past fortnight. While they can feel aggrieved not to have got a point apiece from the games against league leaders Braga and away at Sporting, they can have no argument with this result.

Olhanense drop to 12th in Liga Sagres. League leaders Braga maintained their 100 per cent record with a 2-0 win over V.Setúbal and are five points clear of Benfica and Porto.

Sporting are now 10 points off the pace after a disappointing 0-0 draw with Belenenses. There are no league fixtures this weekend due to international matches.

Under 21 European Championships

Portugal include five Olhanense players, Ventura, Castro, Ukra, Rabiola and Tengarrinha, in the squad that travels to Greece for a UEFA Under21 Championship match tonight (Friday). England’s young hopefuls play Macedonia the same evening. Portugal are in the same group as England and the English FA has announced that the match between the two sides on November 13 will be played at Wembley.

Vital World Cup qualifier for Portugal

Tomorrow (Saturday) is an important day with numerous World Cup qualifier taking place. England, who have already qualified for the finals in South Africa next year, play in Ukraine while Portugal are at home to Hungary in a vital tie that they must win. The Republic of Ireland host Italy and Wales travel to Finland.