LIGA NOS: PORTIMONENSE 1–5 BENFICA
FARENSE 1-1 PORTIMONENSE
Last Thursday evening saw Portimonense field an attack-minded starting eleven in a vain attempt to go toe-to-toe with Benfica. The gamble appeared to pay off when Beto put the Algarveans ahead only to subsequently backfire in spectacular fashion as the powerful club from Lisbon scored five times without reply.
Manager Paulo Sérgio accepted the blame for the heavy defeat as the second half introduction of Benfica’s Uruguayan €24 million record signing Darwin, who immediately added to Pizzi’s earlier equaliser, changed the dynamics of the game, allowing Swiss international and Liga NOS top scorer Seferovic to grab a quick brace before Everton finished off the turn-around in time added on.
With close rivals Belenenses, Famalicão and Tondela all taking three points from the double match day, as well as the three bottom clubs managing at least one win each, Tuesday’s concluding Algarve derby fixture in Faro assumed even greater importance in terms of league table standings.
The strangely late 9.45pm kick-off also featured an equally unusual face-off between two ‘Betos’: Portimonense’s emerging young striker, Norberto Bercique Gomes Betuncal, and Farense’s 38-year-old veteran international goalkeeper, António Alberto Bastos Pimparel, signed as emergency cover from Leixões in March following long-term injury to regular No1 Rafael Defendi.
Both were in action early on, Faro’s Beto holding on to a Maurício header before crucially intercepting his namesake’s cross with Aylton Boa Morte in position to slot home. The man between the posts was then beaten by a 20-yard Fabrício pile-driver which shook the crossbar before Pedro Henrique gave the home side a 24th-minute lead against the run of play with a closerange header from a Ryan Gould cross. Farense almost doubled their advantage shortly afterwards, but for an excellent Samuel save from Mansilla.
The older Beto was back in the thick of it after the teams returned from the break, twice keeping out Fabrício in quick succession prior to again riding his luck as a Fali Cande free kick rebounded from the woodwork. But there was little the keeper capped by Portugal on 16 occasions could do with quarter of an hour remaining, his parry of a powerful Norberto Beto shot following an Eduardo Mancha mistake, allowing Boa Morte the easiest of finishes. There was still time for Fali to block a goal-bound Gould effort before Samuel held on to the precious share of the points with an outstanding one-handed near post stop at the death.
The latest set of results now sees Portimonense, who next face Rio Ave this Saturday evening, in 11th place on 33 points, five, seven and nine clear respectively of Boavista, Farense and Nacional who currently occupy the three potential relegation places.
Off the pitch Portimonense Beto’s recent stand-out performances, capped by half a dozen goals, have inevitably attracted the attention of several bigger clubs. In Portugal both Sporting and Benfica have come calling, while further afield high-flying English and German sides West Ham and Wolfsburg are said to be more than interested in acquiring the exciting 23-year-old’s services.
By SKIP BANDELE