Portimonense: Honours even

Liga Portugal Bwin: Santa Clara 1-1 Portimonense

Portimonense travelled to the Azores last Monday, the geographically furthest away fixture in European football, and came away with a deserved point from an at times very good, and always hard-fought, encounter with Santa Clara.

A cagey opening half hour, which saw the visitors lose Ricardo Matos to injury, saw Shoya Nakajima flash an attempt just wide of the post before a defence-splitting Ricardinho pass sent Lincoln on his way to open the scoring just before the interval.

The Brazilian almost made it two when his header hit the post only minutes after the restart, but Portimonense gradually gained momentum as Santa Clara keeper Marco was forced into a flying one-handed save by half-time substitute Fabrício on the hour mark.

It was then Morita’s turn to strike the woodwork from distance for the islanders as the Algarveans continued to push forward, Nakajima finally engineering the breakthrough with an 80th-minute pin-point cross into the area which allowed Moufi to power home his header for the equalizer.

The Algarveans almost ‘stole’ all three points at the death as Angulo struck the post in the fourth minute of injury time, but the draw stood, leaving manager Paulo Sérgio’s men still searching for their first victory of 2022 following an eleven-match winless run.

Next up is a Sunday trip to 13th-placed Vizela before Benfica travel south at the beginning of next month for one of the top home matches of the season.

By SKIP BANDELE