By SKIP BANDELE
Portimonense returned to Madeira to take on Marítimo 10 years after the two sides last fought out a 1-1 draw.
On Sunday afternoon, the result was identical but the Algarveans needed more than just a little luck to escape with a potentially invaluable point.
The islanders dominated proceedings and should have long been ahead by the time Tcho finally managed to beat excellent Portimão keeper Ventura from the penalty spot in the 66th minute. A second yellow card for Jumisse shortly afterwards reduced the visitors to 10 men and did not improve Portimonense’s chances and another defeat appeared certain until circumstances conspired to favour the afflicted.
Firstly, Ventura continued to excel, keeping out three point-blank scoring opportunities. Then referee Olegario Benquerença inexplicably decided to keep the game alive for a further two minutes beyond the four already added for stoppages and, as the seconds ticked away, a loose ball hit the back of Marítimo defender Rafael Miranda and deflected past the stranded home keeper to produce the most fortunate of draws from the visitors’ point of view.
“Surrealistic” was the word used by Marítimo manager Pedro Martins to describe the result after the game. Portimão counterpart Litos sought to draw more positives from the performance. “Our strategy worked perfectly during the first half,” he said. “They did not have a single chance. We conceded early and had to risk everything in the second. In the end we had the luck on our side which has been missing in previous games.”
The league now enters its winter break but despite Litos’ kind post-match analysis, considerable improvement will be needed to see the Algarve club survive at the highest level following the second half of the season which kicks off on January 9 against fellow relegation candidates Setúbal.
It is hoped that Porto can be persuaded to release Castro and Ukra to lend the side more potency while Valencia, Pedro Moita, João Paulo and Dong Fangzhou have all been told to look for new clubs.