Following more than credible albeit ultimately unsuccessful away performances against the likes of ‘big guns’ Sporting Braga and Benfica, Portimonense were comprehensively outplayed in front of almost 40,000 Porto fans in the Dragon’s Den last Friday evening.
Manager Vitor Oliveira’s men came under pressure soon after the kick-off and the match as a meaningful contest was effectively ended by a three-goal blitz initiated by Marcano, whose 20th-minute left-footed drive following an Alex Telles corner put the hosts ahead.
That lead was doubled almost immediately when Corona set up Aboubakar who followed up from close range after seeing his initial header blocked by a defender. It took only a further two minutes for Porto to go three up as another Corona through ball allowed Marega to chip keeper Ricardo Ferreira.
To Portimonense’s credit, the team did not fold and Pedro Sá shaved the post just after the half-hour mark before hero-of-the-hour Shoya Nakajima (see below) took advantage of a good Paulinho run down the right wing to produce a great piece of skill in curling the ball past the helpless Casillas in the Porto goal with the outside of his boot.
However, any hopes of a comeback after the interval were soon extinguished when Brahimi made it 4-1 a mere four minutes into the second half. An impressive solo effort from the same Algerian international then increased the score to 5-1 before Ruben Fernandes steered a Hackman cross past Casillas to lend the score line a slightly more respectable look.
There was still time for the Portimonense woodwork from preventing a Herrera header putting Porto six up and some good work at the other end from Casillas in smothering a late Paulinho flourish as very competent referee Luis Ferreira blew the final whistle.
“We lost concentration,” Oliveira said afterwards. “It’s absurd to concede three goals in five minutes.”
Portimonense’s defensive failings, not helped by the soon-to-return injury-related absence of Jadson since the end of last January, were made worse by the late withdrawal of Lucas Possignolo, and will be addressed during intensive training sessions ahead of this Saturday afternoon’s visit from Aves who also gained promotion at the end of last season.
Meanwhile, the impressive performances from Japanese forward Shoya Nakajima – three goals in as many games – since joining from FC Tokyo at the close of the summer transfer window have prompted the Algarveans to move to secure the remaining 80% of rights to the player for what is believed to involve the sum of €4 million – a good investment should the 23-year-old, whose progress is being closely monitored by national team manager Vahid Halilhodzic, go on to represent his country at full international level in the near future.
By SKIP BANDELE