Too little too late
Portimonense are still looking for their first win of 2018 after losing 2-1 at home to Sporting Braga last Saturday night.
Like so many times this season, manager Vítor Oliveira’s men found themselves fighting an uphill battle after controversially conceding twice within the opening 10 minutes.
Oliveira jumped to his feet as the referee allowed Braga defender Paulinho’s 8th-minute strike from what appeared to be an off-side position to stand, and became even more agitated as keeper Ricardo Ferreira was impeded during Wilson Eduardo’s follow-up after initially hitting the post two minutes later for the second.
Portimonense had the opportunity to immediately reduce the arrears when ‘their’ Paulinho won a penalty on his farewell appearance for the club (see below), but Shoya Nakajima blasted the resulting spot-kick high over the bar.
Nonetheless, the Algarveans recovered well from the early setbacks and dominated subsequent proceedings, forcing Braga keeper Matheus into several good saves before the interval.
Soon after the re-start, continuing home pressure produced another penalty award, Fabrício converting successfully, this time following a foul on Pires in the area. Jadson should have made it 2-2 with 20 minutes to play but headed wide of an open goal, proving to be the last clear-cut opportunity as the clock ticked down.
Portimonense will have the chance to appease their home fans on Monday night when fifth-placed Rio Ave are the visitors to the municipal stadium.
Meanwhile, the January transfer window has involved Portimonense directly and indirectly in several moves. Completed is the loan deal which sees Paulinho complete the current season as a Porto player, at the end of which the multiple champions have the option to buy the 23-year-old Brazilian for around €8 million.
For now, Portimonense have received two players in return, also on loan, namely Brazilian winger Galeno and Argentine attacking midfielder Fede Varela, both of whom will make their debuts shortly.
Separate negotiations, also involving the two clubs, have centred around striker Rui Costa, already announced as a Porto B team loan addition. However, the 21-year-old striker’s contractual situation was investigated by the league – he was signed by Portimonense only to be loaned out to Varzim and then Famalicão last summer; but league regulations state that a player may only be on the books for a maximum of three clubs during any given season – thus Costa has returned to Portimonense to fill the striking vacancy left open by the departure of Stanley.
Also continuing is the tug-of-war over still-Portimonense player Shoya Nakajima, on a year-long loan from FC Tokyo. After an €8 million bid from Wolfsburg and approaches from Benfica were turned down earlier, a latest €10-million bid from Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk was also deemed as unacceptable by the Algarveans who have doubled the 23-year-old Japanese winger’s release clause to €20 million. Watch this space!
By SKIP BANDELE