By CHRIS WRIGHT firstname.lastname@example.org
A 92nd minute goal from defender Miguel Vitor enabled Benfica to clinch the 9th Annual Guadiana International Tournament Trophy at Vila Real de Santo António on Saturday. The event featured three of Europe’s most famous teams, Anderlecht (Belgium), Athletico Bilbao (Spain) and Benfica, who were joined by Liga Sagres new boys SC Olhanense.
In the semi-finals, Benfica came from behind to beat Athletico Bilbao whilst the young Olhanense side beat Anderlecht. A stunning goal from Zequinha shortly after half-time gave the Algarveans the lead but ten minutes later Biglia levelled for the Belgium side. The lively Fabio slotted home the winner for Olhanense to set-up a dream final against Benfica.
When Olhanense last met their opponents in the Carlsberg League Cup in January at the Stadium of Light it was the home side who ran out winners 4-1. This time it was the local side who showed the initiative and their quality play augers well for the future.
The game was half-an-hour old before there was any real action and then it involved the referee. Nuno Almeida, from the Algarve, showed Olhanense no favouritism when he awarded Benfica a dubious penalty. TV replays showed that Carlos Fernandes had clearly reached the ball before Almar went sprawling in a dramatic dive. Benfica skipper’s Cardozo spot kick was well saved by Bruno Verissimo as he dived to his left.
Minutes later Di Maria did have the ball in the net for Benfica but the goal was disallowed for handball and the player shown a yellow card. Both sides made a number of changes for the 2nd period. For the Olhão team Ventura (keeper), Tengarrinha, Guga, Stephane and Fabio replaced Bruno Verissimo, Miguel Garcia, Carlos Fernandes, Messi and Rabiola.
Olhanense’s Under 21 internationals Ukra and Castro were causing problems for the Benfica defence with their close ball control and surging runs.
Despite having played two games in 24 hours, Olhanense appeared fitter and keen to challenge for every ball.
Ukra received the over physical attention of several defenders whilst Castro’s 60th minute long range shot was well tipped over by Quim. Two minutes later Olhanense were awarded a fortunate penalty and Ukra calmly sent the keeper the wrong way to break the deadlock.
Almost immediately Benfica drew level when Cardozo made amends for his earlier miss when he swivelled and drove the ball beyond Ventura. Nuno Gomes made a late appearance which delighted the 6,000 spectators.
With almost the last touch of the game it was Miguel Vitor who headed home the winner to deny Olhanense an opportunity to try their skills in a penalty shootout. Sagres Liga’s youngest manager, 37-year old Jorge Costa, was delighted with his team’s performance.
Major support for Olhão team
The Portuguese League of Professional Football has announced plans to invest approximately three million euros in the modernisation of stadiums and technological equipment covering 16 clubs in Liga Sagres and Liga Vitalis.
The main beneficiary in the initial distribution of 864,000 euros is Olhanense, who will receive 171,000 euros towards the major works currently being undertaken at the José Arcanjo Stadium.
Portimonense entertain Olhanense
Olhanense travel to Portimão on Wednesday, July 29, kick-off 7pm as both teams prepare for the start of the league season on August 16.
Olhanense won both league games last season on their way to taking the Liga Vitalis title and two weeks ago the teams drew 1-1 in a warm-up game at Albufeira.