Olhanense and Sporting draw a blank

By CHRIS WRIGHT [email protected]

Sporting arrived in the Algarve last Saturday eager to impress following their narrow 2-1 loss against Everton the previous Wednesday.

Nearly 4,000 hardy souls turned out despite the atrocious weather conditions. Prior to the game, skipper Rui Duarte and President Isidoro Sousa were presented with a trophy by the Portuguese Professional Football Association to mark the club’s achievement in winning Liga Vitalis last season.

There followed a minute’s silence in memory of those who had lost their lives in the disaster in Madeira. This was a particularly poignant moment for those supporters who had enjoyed the wonderful hospitality of their Funchal hosts when they visited the island to play Marítimo last December.

Sporting were without Moutinho and Izmailov while Olhanense welcomed back Rui Duarte and Tengarrinha. Sporting had the advantage of playing with the wind and rain at their backs in the first half and on 12 minutes Yannick’s acrobatic effort was well saved by Ventura. Midway through the half, Olhanense should have taken the lead when Tengarrinha won the ball in midfield and his through ball found Djalmir in space. The chance went begging as the centre-forward’s volley crashed into the side netting.

Early in the second period, Castro was foiled by man of the match Sporting’s Rui Patrício’s world class save. Now with the wind at their backs, Olhanense surged forward and at times Sporting resorted to strong arm tactics, which resulted in five yellow cards from referee Pedro Proença. Neither side could be faulted for their commitment as the conditions worsened.

Olhanense manager Jorge Costa brought on forwards Toy, Rabiola and Yazalde as the home side strived to gain only their second win against Sporting in 35 outings. With ten minutes to go, a long diagonal from Ukra found Rui Duarte unmarked in the Sporting box but his attempted volley skidded away to safety. This 0-0 draw will give Olhanense confidence as they travel north to take on Sporting Braga tomorrow (Saturday). Braga, who lie second in Liga Sagres, have an impressive home record of nine wins and one draw, while Olhanense have only lost one of their last eight games as they begin to pull away from the relegation zone.