LEAGUE CUP: PORTIMONENSE 2-0 ACADEMICA
Portimonense began the new season with a less than convincing second round Allianz League Cup win over second division Academica de Coimbra last Saturday evening, which sees the Algarveans through to the competition’s next group phase.
In what proved to be much the better of the two halves, manager António Folha’s first choice eleven dominated during the opening 45 minutes, much-travelled new Brazilian forward Iury Castilho missing an open goal as early as the ninth minute. However, mounting pressure then produced two corners in quick succession before Paulinho put Portimonense ahead from the penalty spot after referee Manuel Oliveira had adjudged keeper Tiago Pereira to have unfairly impeded goal-bound Aylton Boa Morte.
It still took a couple of excellent saves from Portimonense goalkeeper Ricardo Ferreira, who stopped shots from Mauro Cerqueira and the always dangerous Andre Claro, before the half-hour mark to maintain the advantage before Castilho wasted another good opportunity. The half drew to a close with a chance at either end, but a great through ball from Tabata then found Anzai, the recent Japanese acquisition proceeding to whip in a cross for Boa Morte to convert before the interval.
The two-goal cushion saw the match lose some of its intensity after the re-start with Academica enjoying more of the possession. Nonetheless it was the Algarveans who went closest to increasing the score with Anzai and Tabata once more proving troublesome for the away defence. The contest was as good as over when the referee spotted a handball from Jadson in the area deep into injury time- but Academica were denied late consolation as Hugo Almeida’s powerful dead ball strike could only rebound from the crossbar.
Portimonense now go into the hat with the other second round winners as well as Benfica, Porto, Sporting and Braga to form four groups of four teams, each playing each other in a round-robin format, the four top-placed clubs progressing to the competition’s semi-finals.
But before then Portimonense will open the 2019/20 league season tomorrow (Friday) evening when the first fixture of the weekend against Belenenses takes place at the Municipal Stadium, kick-off 8.30pm. One player still missing from that encounter is top marksman Jackson Martinez, the previously on-loan Colombian international having only just annulled his present contract with China’s Guangzhou Evergrande before committing his future to the Algarveans for the next two years.
By SKIP BANDELE