By CHRIS WRIGHT
Sometimes you wonder whether you’re completely sane when you get up at 4am, especially on the morning the clocks go forward an hour, to follow your football team in their endeavour for premier league survival.
The 40 fans who gathered in Olhão in the dark hours of Sunday morning, in retrospect, have had no regrets. The omens looked good as the sun shone down on the party as they arrived in the picturesque seaside town of Vale do Conde in Northern Portugal.
Olhanense players had decided to dedicate the game against Rio Ave to their injured skipper Rui Duarte, out of action for six months with cruciate ligament damage to his right knee.
Together with national press speculation over boss Jorge Costa’s future with the club, the team had a lot more to play for than just the three points.
Led by centre-forward Djalmir, the Algarveans almost took the lead in the 16th minute when Rui Baião hit the post after good work by Paulo Sérgio and Castro. Five minutes later, the home side should have been in front but Bruno Gama fired wide when clean through on goal.
Three minutes later, they did take the lead when Vitor Gomes converted Sidnei’s cross. Olhanense continued to pump high balls into the box despite Rio Ave having three giant defenders who had no problem in dealing with the aerial threat.
The game suddenly changed when, with the last action of the first-half, Olhanense drew level. Tengarrinha scored his second and most important goal of the season after a surging run by Djalmir.
The faithful fans were more than happy that their team was still in the game but were completely unaware of the drama to follow. Shortly after the break, and a foul by home defender Fábio Faria on Ukra, resulted in Djalmir converting the penalty to give the visitors a 2-1 lead.
While the Olhanense fans were still celebrating, Djalmir made it 3-1, a fast flowing move saw Paulo Sérgio’s pinpoint cross headed home by the Brazilian.
In the past, in similar situations, Olhanense had squandered two-goal advantages – the games at Sporting and Porto spring to mind – but on this occasion there was to be no mistake. Yazalde came on as substitute for two-goal hero Djalmir, seven goals in eleven games, and it was the former Rio Ave player who was to add goal number four after a horrendous mistake in the home defence.
With five minutes to go referee Duarte Gomes dismissed Paulo Sérgio with a second yellow card when the player was penalised for diving. A harsh decision as even the home supporters felt he had been tripped.
There was still time for a fifth goal for the 10 men when, in added-on time, substitute Rabiola converted a second penalty after being tripped in the box.
This was Olhanense’s first away win of the season and, with the two teams below them also winning, also an extremely important one.
The last time Olhanense had recorded such a big away win in the top flight of Portuguese football was in 1947 when they won 5-1 against Sanjoanense (Madeira).
MASSIVE GAME TOMORROW (SATURDAY)
Olhanense entertain V.Setúbal at the José Arcanjo Stadium, Olhão, kick-off, 4pm. The two teams are level on points just above the drop zone and a large crowd is expected for this ‘local derby’ against the team from Setúbal, 288kms to the north. Tickets can be purchased on the day and prices range from 12.50 euros to 25 euros for a seat in the main stand.