Portimonense produced one of the best performances in recent memory during last Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to Sporting Braga and will feel disappointed not to have come away with at least a point.
The hosts appeared to be taken completely by surprise as the Algarveans dominated the opening exchanges with fluent attacking play which saw Fabrício, Ricardo Pessoa and Lucas all go close before Paulinho thumped home the loose ball after Tabata had been brought down in the Braga area.
Far from sitting on their 25th-minute lead, manager Vítor Oliveira’s men continued to press forward and Paulinho should have made it two as half-time beckoned, but just failed to connect with a superbly crafted Lumor cross from the by-line allowing opposition keeper Matheus to collect. Instead, a moment of inspiration from Xadas in injury time turned the match on its head, the 19-year-old unleashing an unstoppable shot into the Portimonense goal’s top right-hand corner from just outside the area to level the score at the interval.
Braga’s greater experience at this level told as the match resumed and Portimonense did well to survive an early onslaught during which a Raul Silva header was adjudged to have been off-side and Pessoa managed to clear a Bruno Viana effort off the goal line.
However, the visitors’ defence was then beaten by a 68th-minute Fábio Martins through ball which captain Rui Fonte put away with relish for the winner.
Thereafter, Portimonense’s search for an equaliser was largely restricted to shots from distance although Fabrício could easily have rescued a point shortly before the final whistle but struggled to control a dangerous Manafa cross in front of goal.
“We played much of the game at a level equal to our opponents of European quality,” Oliveira said afterwards, “but found it difficult to create scoring opportunities during the second half as Braga closed us down.”
Portimonense did not return south after the game, choosing instead to remain in the north of Portugal in preparation for their third match of the new league season this Friday evening (August 18) – 8.30pm kick-off, live on SportTV1 – against unbeaten Rio Ave.
Off the pitch, Portimonense are still looking to make two or three new signings while Gustavo has been loaned to Penafiel and the Rui Costa saga took on another twist as the 21-year-old forward has re-appeared at his home club Famalicão instead of intended loan destination Varzim.
Fans would probably also like some clarification as to why 1860 Munich returnee Amilton, a key player for Portimonense during a record-breaking first half to last year’s second division championship winning season, has gone to Aves where he has made two disappointing cameo appearances to date.
By SKIP BANDELE
Photo: The hosts appeared to be taken completely by surprise as the Algarveans dominated the opening exchanges with fluent attacking play
Photo by: HUGO DELGADO/LUSA