Liga Portugal Bwin: Sporting 3-2 Portimonense
Portimonense took on Sporting Lisbon in their own back yard and, for an hour at least, managed to create all kinds of problems for the reigning champions with a disciplined counter-attacking performance until reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of Pedro Sá for a second bookable offence.
Back-from-injury Shoya Nakajima served early notice with a venomous 10th-minute strike from distance, which home keeper Adan could only palm against the upright.
The Japanese winger then put a dangerous cross into the area just eluding the advancing Fabrício before a similar ball from Fali Cande led to Matheus Reis’ attempted clearance ending up in his own net for the lead halfway through the first period of play.
Thereafter, Samuel did well in the Portimonense goal to keep out last season’s top scorer Pedro ‘Pote’ Gonçalves on several occasions whilst confusion amongst the Sporting defence at the other end could easily have led to another goal for the Algarveans ahead of the half-time whistle.
The visitors still looked secure until shortly before the hour mark when disaster struck in the form of a red card for Captain Sá.
Now in numerical inferiority, Portimonense could no longer stem the green and white tide and ex-Braga forward Paulinho grabbed a quick hat-trick to put the home side 3-1 up with 10 minutes remaining.
Lucas Possignolo still managed to reduce the advantage with an acrobatic overhead kick at the death, but, by that time, it was too late to change the outcome of the match.
Portimonense, who remain in sixth one point behind Estoril, now face a busy, and perhaps decisive for this season’s outcome, January schedule, beginning with a visit from improving Marítimo on Sunday afternoon.
There follows next Thursday’s home FA Cup quarter final against Mafra, ahead of clashes with immediate league table pursuers Vitória de Guimarães (h) and Gil Vicente (a) on the 17th and 23rd, respectively.
The month closes with another home game against currently 13th-placed Tondela on the 31st.
Manager Paulo Sérgio’s most immediate concern will be replacing Willyan and Sá, both on five yellow cards, this Sunday as well as the increasingly influential Fali Candé, part of the Guinea-Bissau African Nations Championship team for the coming weeks.
By SKIP BANDELE