Sporting player Pedro Gonçalves (right) in action against Portimonense player Willyan Rocha (left) during the Portuguese First League matchat Alvalade stadium in Lisbon on February 20

Portimonense: Capital punishment


A four-minute loss of concentration cost Portimonense dearly as champions-elect Sporting cruised to an all-time 18th consecutive victory over the Algarveans at their Alvalade Stadium on Saturday night.

Manager Paulo Sérgio’s team began well, creating several half-chances during the opening 20 minutes, before the hosts struck twice in quick succession.

Uruguay defender Sebastián Coates headed on a Pedro ‘Pote’ Gonçalves free kick for Zouhair Feddal to latch on to – Samuel Portugal, in the Portimonense goal, still managed to block the Morocco international’s first attempt, but there was no stopping the close-range follow-up by the same player.

Only minutes later, Maurício inexplicably gave the ball away on the edge of his own area, allowing Nuno Santos a simple near-post finish to make it 2-0 on the half-hour mark.

Dener had the ball in the back of the net at the other end before the break, but referee Rui Costa adjudged his header to have been scored from an off-side position after consulting VAR.

Portimonense attempted to step up the pace during the second half with Lucas Possignolo, Salmani and Beto all forcing keeper Adan to take decisive action while Samuel did well to prevent ‘Pote’ from adding to his phenomenal strike rate – 14 league goals this season – but the early brace was enough to see the Lisbonites safely home.

The loss, combined with several unexpected results elsewhere, means that the nine clubs making up the bottom half of the table have bunched up once more, Belenenses, Nacional and Tondela leading the way on 21 points, two ahead of Portimonense and Gil Vicente on 19. They are closely followed by Farense, Boavista and Famalicão on 18, the threesome in turn only one point clear of last-placed Marítimo, who will visit the Municipal Stadium on the Arade river this Sunday afternoon.