LIGA NOS: VITÓRIA F.C. 1-1 PORTIMONENSE
Portimonense gained a more-than-deserved draw in Setúbal last Friday evening to stay ahead of the now bunching relegation-threatened pack.
Manager António Folha’s team substantially weakened by multiple suspensions nonetheless started much the stronger against a team only a point below them.
In front of an almost 5,000-strong crowd which included sometime local resident José Mourinho, Jackson Martinez created the first scoring opportunity in the 11th minute when his powerful downward header bounced over the crossbar.
Continuous pressure from the visitors produced a string of corners and Portimonense almost took the lead from an 18th-minute Paulinho free kick which was met at the near post by Lucas for Jadson to poke home only to see the effort cleared off the line by Cadiz.
Vitória keeper Makaridze then did well to keep out Henrique, Jadson and Paulinho until the half ended with the home side’s first real chance as Nuno Valente struck the post.
The start of the second playing period saw Portimonense remaining in the driving seat, another Jadson attempt being cleared off the line. Makaridze then showed brilliant reflexes to deflect a Henrique pile driver before Vitória captain Semedo met an Eber Bessa corner at the other end to put the hosts ahead against the run of play.
But the Algarveans were not to be denied on this occasion, relentless attacking football finally bearing fruit with the recently substituted Ruster heading in a pinpoint Tormena cross to draw the match ahead of the final whistle.
The point gained could prove crucial with 11 clubs still not guaranteed safety with four games remaining, only Feirense’s latest defeat to Braga confirming their early relegation. They will provide Portimonense’s next opposition at the Municipal Stadium this Saturday afternoon, and a win here for the Algarveans should all but secure top division football next season.
Off the pitch, it has been reported that Portimonense have agreed terms with a potential successor to the departed Nakajima in the shape of 23-year-old Tokyo Verdy winger Hiroki Sugajima for 2019/20.
Elsewhere, former Portimonense coach Vitor Oliveira has set yet another record by celebrating the 11th promotion from the second division of his career, this time with Paços de Ferreira, and is already considering offers from other clubs for next season.
By SKIP BANDELE