Goal fest in comeback of the season

Portimonense 4-3 Moreirense

Portimonense striker Jorge Pires celebrated his 37th birthday one day early as his first-ever top-flight hat-trick helped the Algarveans recover from a 3-0 deficit just before the hour-mark and emerge victorious by the time the final whistle was blown.

The just over 3,000 fans in the municipal stadium on Saturday afternoon had little to cheer about during the opening 45 minutes as Moreirense belied their lowly position in the league table.

Keeper Ricardo Ferreira did well to keep out a 16th-minute Bruno Ramires header but then found Bilel Aouacheria more than a handful, the young French-Algerian forward converting a 38th-minute penalty before adding a second when seizing upon a wayward Dener pass only minutes later to put his side firmly in control.

Portimonense manager Vítor Oliveira reacted with a double substitution during the interval, Fede Varela replacing Dener and Wellington coming on for Manafa, but with little immediate effect as Tozé latched on to an Arsénio through ball to make it 3-0 to the visitors not long after the match got back underway.

However, with almost an hour on the clock, Portimonense began the comeback which would ultimately see them triumph against the odds.

As so often this season, Shoya Nakajima was the instigator with a pass wide to Wellington who fed the ball into the centre of the opposition area for Pires to thump the ball home. Given a glimmer of hope, Portimonense suddenly managed to shake off their lethargy and, two corners in quick succession later, a Nakajima shot from a tight angle rebounded off the foot of the post and into the path of a grateful Ruben Fernandes who made no mistake.

With the match suddenly ‘alive’ again at 2-3 and half an hour to play, sadly the contest as a spectacle deteriorated rapidly, mostly due to Moreirense’s sudden switch to spoiling tactics, aided by referee Manuel Mota’s failure to retain a grip on proceedings.

A total of 12 stoppages brought about by Moreirense players rolling about the pitch in Oscar-worthy fashion prevented any further meaningful action until André Micael was forced off with a genuine injury shortly before the 90 minutes were up.

With three substitutes already on the pitch, Moreirense had to continue with 10 men and were duly punished when Pires brought the scores level from the penalty spot as eight minutes of time added were displayed by the fourth official. The turn-around was then complete as a Zizo foul was rewarded with a second yellow card sending off and another Pires penalty which made it 4-3 on the afternoon. And there was still time to round off a more than eventful encounter with further marching orders, this time for Boubacar, leaving eight Moreirense players, a great Jhonatan save from Wellington preventing a 5-3 final score line, and a straight red card for Drame on the visitors’ bench.

“It was a disappointing first half for us with Moreirense playing well,” Vítor Oliveira commented afterwards. “The 1-3 gave us hope and we ran out the deserved winners of a poor contest.”

Meanwhile, his opposite number, Moreirense manager Petit, laid some of the blame for the defeat at the referee’s door but also admitted to it being “their own fault”.

The win went a long way towards securing Portimonense’s top tier status for next season and another success at Tondela this Saturday would all but secure it.