Portimonense’s latest goalless home draw with third-placed Académica de Coimbra on Saturday turned out to be less disappointing than first thought as closest rivals Aves were surprisingly beaten 2-1 by visiting Varzim the following afternoon.
The two best defences in the Ledman LigaPRO Portuguese second division cancelled each other out for the best part of the 90 minutes at the municipal stadium providing for a reasonably entertaining encounter somewhat bereft of real scoring opportunities.
Manager Vitor Oliveira’s men, featuring recent acquisition Luis Mata in the starting 11, came closest to troubling Ricardo Ribeiro in the Académica goal just after the half-hour mark when a mazy Ewerton run set up a Manafa shot which grazed the cross bar.
The virtual stalemate continued after the interval with one exception as Académica’s João Real and Traquina combined to force home keeper Ricardo Ferreira into a triple-save at close range six minutes after the re-start.
The biggest round of applause from the almost 2,000 fans was reserved for the 67th-minute introduction of Fabrício, but even the best efforts of the Kashima Antlers returnee could not change the complexion of the game.
“Académica were only waiting for us to make mistakes,” Oliveira said afterwards. “We were the better team without being able to create much.”
Last weekend’s results see Portimonense five points clear of Aves at the head of the table, with Académica and Santa Clara, who lost at home to Fafe, trailing by 16 and 18 points respectively – this season only the top two clubs will be promoted to the top division while the bottom six are involved in a relegation battle.
Next up for Portimonense is a Saturday trip to mid-table Sporting Covilhã as Aves take on seventh-placed Benfica B in Lisbon the same afternoon.
By SKIP BANDELE
Photo: Fabrício (Portimonense) has recently returned from Japan