Portimonense – Home and away


With manager António Folha complaining bitterly over Portimonense’s packed schedule of three matches in eight days following a month of inactivity, it was no surprise that the team and certain players in particular had already shown signs of fatigue as this Thursday’s (January 10) third instalment, the home clash with Sporting Braga, came around.

All was still well last Wednesday when Benfica failed to cope with Algarvean energy and determination, handing Portimonense a historic first ever victory over the ‘Eagles’ in 41 attempts. An incident-packed 90 minutes, featuring the surprise return to the starting line-up of Shoya Nakajima from international duty with Japan, saw the visitors’ Ruben Dias slice his attempted clearance from a hopeful Manafá cross into the area past his own keeper for an early home lead.

Thus, encouraged Portimonense continued to press forward and were again rewarded in the 38th minute, the free-standing Jardel heading into his own net after Jackson Martinez had connected with Nakajima’s whipped ball in.

Two-nil to the good, Portimonense remained the more enterprising side during the second half, and only good saves from keeper Odysseas Vlachodimos kept the score down.

Any chance of a Benfica comeback became even more remote after Jonas was sent off in the 70th minute, referee Manuel Mota showing the forward a straight red card for a going in dangerously high on keeper Ricardo Ferreira.

Unfortunately, as full time approached, both Nakajima and Jackson limped off injured and were to take no part in Saturday’s subsequent encounter on Madeira.

Whereas Jackson was expected to return today, there was more heartache for Nakajima whose predicted three-week recovery time prompted his withdrawal from the Japan Asia Cup squad.

On Benfica’s side, the fall-out from the defeat had even more long-term consequences with manager Rui Vitoria packing his bags the following day.

Short of two of their principal players as well as the still-not-match-fit Tabata, Portimonense still put up a highly respectable performance against Marítimo on Saturday evening.

A follow-up victory would have been well within the realms of possibility with 13 to eight shots on target and 54% possession but for a world-class show from man-of-the-match keeper, Charles. The 24-year-old Brazilian stopped goal-bound efforts from Lucas Fernandes, Manafá, João Carlos and Paulinho until the last mentioned finally succeeded from the penalty spot in the 92nd minute – by that time, however, strikes at the close of either half from Edgar Costa and Correa had put the islanders two up and Marítimo ran out the 2-1 winners.

In other news, Portimonense have secured the services of Japanese national goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda on a two-year contract and are closing in on re-signing former forward Mu Kanazaki who has been seen in Portimão recently.