Over 2,000 fans packed into the Portimão municipal stadium last Saturday to witness Portimonense take a share of the points after a six-goal thriller with Leixões, the first home game since promotion became certainty.
A fast and furious start saw the visitors open the scoring after only four minutes when Porcelis nodded in the loose ball after a Bruno China header following a corner had rebounded off the crossbar.
Portimonense struck back shortly afterwards through Chidera, who followed up after Leixões keeper Ricardo Moura had done well to keep out the Nigerian’s initial effort. Manager Vitor Oliveira’s men then took the lead just before the half-hour mark with Tabata and Paulinho combining well down the left flank to set up Chidera for his second of the morning.
However, that advantage was to last all of five minutes as Bruno Lamas found the top left-hand corner of the Portimonense net with a great strike from the edge of the area. Only the post then prevented Fatai from putting Leixões back in front before two good saves from Moura at the other end brought an eventful opening half to a close.
The fireworks continued after the re-start culminating in a pin-point Zambujo cross picking out Pires from a crowd of defenders to head home firmly. The 3-2 score line could easily have been increased with 10 minutes remaining but strong appeals for a penalty after Tabata had been brought down in the area were turned down by referee Helder Malheiro. Instead, an attempted Brendon clearance close to the end looped over stranded keeper Ricardo Ferreira in the Portimonense goal to leave the match drawn at three a piece.
Title rivals Aves confirmed their top division status next season the following morning but also struggled when coming back from two goals down against União da Madeira to earn the single point needed, remaining two points behind Portimonense in the race for the championship with three games remaining.
The first of these has the Algarveans travelling north next Sunday to take on Freamunde while Aves welcome strong-finishing third-placed side in the table, Penafiel.
By SKIP BANDELE
Photo: Portimonense coach Vitor Oliveira