By CHRIS WRIGHT
The league’s top goalscorer Djalmir was missing from SC Olhanense’s team at the weekend, having amassed five yellow cards and received an automatic one-match suspension. Midfield player Castro, on loan from FC Porto, was also absent with a sprained knee so Moses and Messi made the starting line-up.
A poor first half was brought to life in the 37th minute when a spectacular overhead bicycle kick by Bruno Mestre gave the visitors’ goalkeeper no chance.
The home side could have doubled their lead by half-time but a superb save denied hard working skipper Rui Duarte.Toy replaced Stephane at half-time and with João Gonçalves having a fine game in defence despite the over physical attention of Gondomar’s Cicero it was looking good for the home side.
How Cicero failed to receive a yellow card is a mystery as referee Nuno Roque flourished the card six times in the second half.
The style of the game suddenly changed with half-an-hour to go when the referee dismissed the lively Messi for an innocuous challenge having earlier cautioned the midfielder.
The visitors then pumped high balls into the box but the resolute Olhanense defence stood firm and in the penultimate minute substitute Rodrigo scored a fine solo goal.
Olhanense remain four points clear at the top of the table, ahead of Santa Clara who won 2-1 at bottom club Oliveirense whilst Gil Vicente slipped to third after losing at D.Aves.
As the Algarve Resident went to press on Wednesday, an army of Olhanense supporters with their drums, banners, flags and scarves were traveling north to take on Benfica in the quarter-finals of the Carlsberg League Cup.
Irrespective of the result, this will have been a night to remember for the fervent band of loyal fans who no doubt will have created a special atmosphere as the team battled their illustrious opponents in the world famous Stadium of Light.
On Sunday SC Olhanense play the final match in the group stages of the League Cup away at V.Guimarães.