LIGA NOS: FEIRENSE 0-1 PORTIMONENSE
Portimonense secured their second away win of the season and the sixth in total during their most recent visit to Santa Maria da Feira to go into the new year with 20 points, nine clear of the relegation places.
Manager António Folha’s men began well with Lucas hitting the post with a long-range effort as early as the third minute before Wellington was only denied by a last-ditch tackle from Philipe shortly afterwards. Having weathered some precarious situations in their own goalmouth, Portimonense almost took the lead on the half-hour mark when Jackson Martinez hit the bar.
The second half began with a big penalty shout as Jackson was pulled to the ground by Babanco, but referee João Malheiro Pinto, who issued eight yellow cards during the encounter, waved play-on on that occasion.
Good saves from both keepers then preceded the break through as Feirense’s Brígido failed to deal with a Paulinho free kick into the area, Dener finally steering the ball home out of the resulting melee.
Portimonense pushed hard for a second during the remaining 20 minutes, but it was keeper Ricardo Ferreira who ultimately saved the day when excelling between the sticks to push away a 90th-minute Crivellaro snapshot from a rare counter attack to hold on to all three points.
Star winger Shoya Nakajima played no part in that match as he was given permission to join the Japan squad in the United Arab Emirates for the Asia Cup early. However, he has since returned under an apparent cloak of secrecy – the club chose not to comment – and was expected to have taken his place in the Portimonense line-up for last Wednesday’s big sold out home game against Benfica (played after the Resident went to press).
Off the pitch, Portimonense are said to be interested in signing 29-year-old Japan keeper Suichi Gonda while actively looking for a winger as a possible replacement for Nakajima, and 44-year-old Ukrainian billionaire Kostyantyn Zhevago has been sighted at the municipal stadium in the company of top club officials including financial director Edgar Vilaça. Watch this space!
By SKIP BANDELE