Aves ended Portimonense’s 15-game unbeaten start to the current season thanks to a spectacular overhead strike from 21-year-old Ghanaian on-loan Boavista winger Emanuel Hackman and closed the gap on the Algarveans at the top of the table to four points.
Manager Vítor Oliveira’s men went into Sunday morning’s live TV clash still short of regular starters Ewerton, Lucas and only-just-recovered Ricardo Pessoa as well as recent match-winner Paulinho who sustained a knee-injury during mid-week training.
The lack of creative forward momentum told as clear opportunities proved hard to come by against the well-organised hosts – and when first Jadson, then Chidera and finally Tabata looked certain to score, veteran 41-year-old ex-Braga, Benfica and Portugal keeper Quim excelled in the Aves goal.
At the opposite end, Ricardo Ferreira also earned top marks with a string of top class saves from the likes of Pedroso, Zé Tiago and João Pedro but was ultimately powerless to keep out Hackman’s acrobatic effort.
“The first and second in the league are obliged to produce a better performance,” Oliveira commented, perhaps a little harshly, after the match. “We played well below those expectations and things went badly.”
Coupled with a somewhat fortuitous 2-0 midweek catch-up victory over Covilhã – a penalty and an own goal supplemented by another outstanding Quim display – Aves (35 points) have now emerged as serious challengers to Portimonense’s (39 points) promotion charge on the back of a seven-match winning streak.
The two rivals have left closest pursuers Cova da Piedade, Santa Clara and Penafiel, all on 28 points, well behind and will be looking to increase that advantage this weekend.
Portimonense welcome relegation-threatened AC Viseu for another televised 11.15am kick-off on Saturday while Aves’ visit to mid-table Famalicão exactly 24 hours later will also be screened by SportTV1.
By SKIP BANDELE
Photo: Caption: Coach Vítor Oliveira said Portimonense “played well below expectations”