A combination of bad luck, overzealous refereeing and a lucky goal saw another very good Portimonense performance go unrewarded as Benfica emerged the 2-1 winners from an eventful encounter in the Portuguese capital last Friday night.
It is not often that the Algarveans take to the pitch in front of 53,000 partisan spectators, but manager Vítor Oliveira’s men were far from overawed by the occasion in the cauldron of the Stadium of Light, taking the game to last season’s champions with Wellington in particular causing plenty of problems for the home defence during the opening half-hour. At the other end, Ricardo Ferreira did well to keep out a Samaris shot before a mix-up in the Benfica area almost resulted in an own goal just before the interval.
Portimonense took a deserved lead 10 minutes into the second half, Fabrício cutting in from the left flank following a great run from Nakajima, before beating keeper Bruno Varela with a shot across goal which nestled inside the far post.
Unfortunately, celebrations turned out to be short-lived as Salvio was put through on goal only minutes later – what appeared to be a slight shove in the back from chasing Portimonense defender Hackman sent the Argentine winger sprawling, the incident being deemed worthy of a penalty award as well as a harsh straight red card by referee Gonçalo Martins. Jonas stepped up and duly sent Ferreira the wrong way to level the match.
Despite being reduced to 10 men, Portimonense refused to let Benfica settle into any kind of rhythm and it took a huge slice of luck for the Lisbonites to score what turned out to be the winner as an attempted cross into the area from André Almeida benefited from a deflection to dip past the stranded Ferreira into the Portimonense goalmouth.
And still the Benfica defence remained shaky, another misunderstanding almost causing Samaris to put the ball past his own keeper before Fabrício pounced to score what appeared to be a last-minute equaliser from a Manafá cross.
Much to the travelling fans’ and club president Rodiney Sampaio’s consternation, a subsequent video referee replay showed one of the Portimonense players involved in the move to have been marginally off-side, prompting the match official to disallow the goal and hand Benfica all three points.
“It didn’t look like a penalty to me, and even less an offence worthy of a dismissal,” Oliveira told the press afterwards. “We were beaten by a fluke and I don’t understand why our second goal was not allowed to stand.”
Portimonense will be hoping for a change in fortune when high-flying Feirense, beaten for the first time this season by a last-gasp Sporting Lisbon penalty last weekend, come to visit on Monday evening – 7pm kick-off.
In other news, the draw for the League Cup third round group phase has been made with Madeira clubs União (away) and Marítimo (home) as well as Sporting Lisbon (home) providing the opposition. The ties are due to be played on Wednesday and Thursday, late October and at the end of November, the group winners advancing to the January 23 and 26 semi-finals scheduled to take place in Braga.
By SKIP BANDELE
Photo: Luisão (Benfica) fights for the ball with Fabrício (Portimonense) during the First League soccer match at Estádio da Luz, Lisbon, on September 8
Photo by: EPA/MIGUEL A. LOPES