LIGA BWIN: PORTIMONENSE 1–2 SPORTING BRAGA
Portimonense suffered last-minute heartache to emerge the undeserved losers from an incident-packed encounter with Braga at the Municipal Stadium last Sunday evening.
The visitors dominated the early exchanges and could have taken the lead after 20 minutes but for an excellent double save from keeper Kosuke Nakamura, who went on to claim the man-of-the-match award, keeping out Tomena and Ricardo Horta in quick succession.
Thereafter, manager Paulo Sérgio’s men gradually gained more of a foothold in the match with Yago Cariello turning an Anderson shot against the crossbar before Ouattara was quickest to react and poke the ball home having had his initial effort blocked by Braga goalie Matheus.
Following the break, Portimonense defended their lead until an unfortunate 64th-minute Diaby handball gifted Iuri Medeiros the opportunity to equalise from the spot which was duly taken successfully by the experienced winger.
Referee Tiago Martins then began to increasingly lose control of proceedings on the pitch resulting in a flurry of yellow cards and culminating in no less than three reds over the remaining period of play. Crucially, the man in black also failed to spot Vitinha climbing all over Portimonense’s Ricardo Matos prior to scoring what turned out to be the 84th-minute winner.
More drama ensued during 12 (!) minutes of time added on, Mr Martins dismissing José Antunes from the Braga bench, swiftly followed by defender Tomena.
Almost immediately, the sent-off Braga duo were joined by colleague Paulo Oliveira, his handball in the area handing Portimonense the golden opportunity to grab a point at the death. However, and perhaps because of the interminable time taken by Martins over the VAR replay of the incident before awarding the penalty, the normally reliable Paulo Estrela blasted his effort high into the night sky.
League action will return following a six-week World Cup break on December 28 at home against this season’s surprise package Casa Pia. Before then Portimonense will contest three Allianz League Cup group phase ties starting with a trip to Nacional de Madeira this Saturday.
By SKIP BANDELE