Liga Portugal Bwin: Portimonense 1-2 Marítimo
Referee André Narciso, who received the lowest mark possible from at least one national sports paper for his performance, and VAR operator Vasco Santos conspired to deny Portimonense at least one well-earned point, if not three, during last Sunday afternoon’s home encounter with close league table rivals Marítimo.
The match began promisingly enough with Aylton Boa Morte and Shoya Nakajima proving a constant threat to visiting keeper Paulo Victor’s goal before winning a penalty on the half-hour mark, which Carlinhos appeared to convert successfully.
Unfortunately, the subsequent VAR review adjudged the scorer to have slipped during the run-up resulting in a ‘double touch’ and proceeded to invalidate the strike without the option of a re-take.
As the referee signalled eight minutes of first-half added time, a well-worked Portimonense attack was rounded off by Boa Morte only for Mr Narciso to blow his whistle for a supposed off-side only apparent to him. The man in black then compounded his error by awarding a quickly-taken free kick, which the keeper booted upfield for Rafik to hand Marítimo a most fortuitous lead going into the interval.
Shortly after the restart, Nakajima had Victor beaten again only for Leo Andrade to clear off the line. In between a series of vital saves from Victor and Samuel at either end, Portimonense gained another penalty with Fabrício making no mistake this time to level the score in the 67th minute.
As the game seemed to be heading for an unsatisfactory draw, defender Lucas Fernandes committed the cardinal sin of giving the ball away in front of goal, and Joel Tagueu duly took advantage after Samuel had managed to parry André Vidigal’s initial effort – game over.
With that defeat, Portimonense drop to seventh in the table, one point above next Monday’s opponents Vitória de Guimarães. There then follows a trip to Gil Vicente, who have leap-frogged both the Algarveans and Estoril into fifth place, Sunday week. But before those two matches, manager Paulo Sérgio’s men welcome second-division Mafra to the Municipal Stadium tonight (Thursday) for their Portuguese FA Cup quarter-final.
Off the pitch, the January transfer window will see the departure of this season’s top scorer Aylton Boa Morte for United Arab Emirates side Al-Ittihad while China’s Shandong Luneng have decided to make former Portimonense captain Jadson’s loan arrangement permanent. A direct replacement for Aylton in the shape of tall 21-year-old Brazilian forward João Veras is already on his way to Portugal, and he will be joined in the Algarve by countrymen Igor and Gianluca Piola Minozzo – ‘Mancha’ – who will bolster the defence on either wing.
By SKIP BANDELE