League leaders suffer heavy defeat

By CHRIS WRIGHT

Some 2,000 fans made the long trip from the Algarve to cheer on league leaders Olhanense and many of the supporters took the opportunity to make a detour and visit Fatima, only 20 kms from Leiria, which next Wednesday (May 13) celebrates the first sighting of an apparition to three young children.

Olhanense travelled in the hope of bringing U.Leiria’s long unbeaten run to an end. Not having lost since mid-February, the team that was relegated from LigaSagres last season had won six and drawn two of their previous eight games.

The home side took the lead with their first attack after just 90 seconds when indecision between keeper Bruno Verissimo and two defenders allowed Carlão to nip in and slide the ball home from a tight angle. Leiria were full of confidence and it was surprising that they did not increase their lead until the 35th minute when Carlão added a second before Cervantes made it 3-0 five minutes later.

Ukra hit the bar for the visitors but they offered little serious threat to the home defence, in which Luiz Carlos was outstanding. The second period was more of the same and Olhanense seriously missed João Gonçalves, injured in the previous week’s 5-0 victory over Freamunde, and ruled out for the rest of the season.

Carlão scored two further goals in the second half to bring his tally to four. To compound the visitors’ misery, they missed a penalty when Leiria keeper Ricardo saved Rui Duarte’s spot kick. Rui Duarte made amends when he scored a consolation goal direct from a free-kick with only minutes remaining.

The 6,000 home supporters were in high spirits as they left the superb stadium, built for the 2004 European Championships.

Confidence is growing that their late surge up the table will see them clinch one of the two top spots at the expense of Santa Clara or Olhanense.

Full house expected

Jorge Costa will need to raise the morale of his troops prior to Sunday’s all important clash with Santa Clara. The home game, being shown live on Sport TV, kicks off at 11.15am. With only three games to play and just one point separating the top three teams, this match is being dubbed ‘Game of the Season’.

A large crowd is anticipated and fans are asked to arrive early to avoid congestion.