Portimonense produced a stunning 3-2 mid-week comeback away win over Benfica B only to lose their unbeaten home record to Varzim on Sunday afternoon.
Manager Vítor Oliveira’s injury-stricken skeleton defence immediately came under pressure in Lisbon last Wednesday as Heri and Diego Gonçalves scored in quick succession to put the home side two up in under 10 minutes.
Undeterred, Portimonense came roaring back with a Pires header against the post initiating half-an-hour of attacking football from the Algarveans, culminating in a brilliant solo effort from man-of-the-match Fabrício, who went past several defenders to calmly slot home just before the interval.
The second half continued at a fast and furious pace with Ivo Nicolau, Gleison and that man Fabrício again all going close while keeper Ricardo Ferreira produced several top class saves from the irrepressible Gonçalves at the other end to keep Portimonense in the game.
With only two minutes of normal time remaining on the clock and defeat beckoning, Ricardo Pessoa found Fabrício in the area and the 27-year-old Brazilian, recently returned from a successful loan spell in Japan, met the ball sweetly to make it 2-2.
No-longer content with the draw, Fabrício then added to his scoring display with a defence-splitting cross allowing Pires to net the winner at the death.
Unfortunately there was to be no repeat of those heroics at the weekend – but not for lack of trying. A largely uneventful opening 45 minutes saw Ferreira tested only once in the Portimonense goal by Varzim’s Rui Costa, who will join the Algarveans in summer, while Manafa, Fabrício and Pires were all unlucky not to make more of their chances.
After the break, Manafa went close before Diego Barcelos scored the only goal of the match from a tight angle, in off the underside of the crossbar.
In one of ‘those’ afternoons, Zambujo squandered an opportunity to level from a Gustavo free-kick, Tabata fired straight at the keeper and Fabrício hit the post to allow Varzim to become the first club to win at the municipal stadium in the league since March 5, 2016.
“A fair result and an important wake-up call for those who thought it was all already done and dusted” was Oliveira’s terse comment afterwards.
Portimonense, on 70 points, still hold a clear nine-point advantage over second-placed fellow promotion contenders Aves, with Varzim closing on 54 points and a game in hand in third.
No doubt the club’s medical department will welcome the present two-week international break, which will allow it to work on the ever-growing injury list before Portimonense return to action in April with important games against Vizela, Gil Vicente and Braga B culminating in a home showdown with Aves on the 19th of next month.
By SKIP BANDELE
Photo: Man of the match Fabrício