Olhanense fade after bright start


A coach full of fans left a wet and windy Olhão in the early hours of Saturday morning for the long journey to Braga in the far north.

Sporting Braga, second in Liga Sagres and chasing a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League, had narrowly beaten 10-man Olhanense last September.

The impressive Axa Stadium, built into the side of a mountain, was to witness a fast flowing game that did credit to both sides.

The wind and rain swept down the mountainside giving the 7,000 fans no respite from the appalling conditions.

Olhanense opened brightly and on ten minutes Djalmir should have done better when through on goal but his first touch was heavy and the chance went begging.

Five minutes later and Castro, the league’s Young Player of the Month for January, whipped over a pinpoint centre and Djalmir’s powerful header gave Eduardo no chance as the visitors took the lead.

Braga, still reeling from the 5-1 defeat at Porto the previous week, were under the cosh and Castro’s long range shot sailed just past the post. Yet another attack and only the woodwork saved the home side from going further behind.

The tide turned midway through the first half when Tengarrinha’s poor defensive header fell at the feet of Matheus who cut inside and rifled a shot past Ventura to level the score. Braga now took control of the game and shortly before half-time Evaldo gave them the lead when he headed home Paulo César’s cross.

Ten minutes into the second period and Sp.Braga wrapped up the game when top scorer Meyong netted after Paulo César had carved open the Olhanense defence.

At this stage it looked as if the rampant home side would run riot but the Olhanense defence, with new signing Miguel Angelo at its heart, rallied to keep them at bay and ensure the final score remained at 3-1. This was Braga’s tenth win in eleven home games whilst Olhanense slipped to only their second defeat in the last nine.

The faithful Olhanense fans are never dispirited and following the game, the group retired to a local restaurant where a big surprise was awaiting one expat member.

Five weeks ago, Neil Richardson suffered a heart attack but thanks to the prompt action of the bombeiros and the dedicated doctors and nurses at Faro Hospital, he has made a remarkable recovery.

His wife Emily, who has been running their removal business in Neil’s absence, was celebrating her birthday and following the meal she was showered with presents from her many Portuguese friends.

Pride of place among the gifts was a goalkeeper shirt worn by her hero Bruno Verissimo when Olhanense won the second division championship last season.

Tomorrow (Saturday) Olhanense are away to FC Porto, who next Tuesday visit London to take on Arsenal in the second leg of their Champions League match defending a 2-1 lead from the first leg. Tomorrow’s game is live on Sport TV kick-off 5pm.