LIGA NOS: SPORTING LISBON 3-1 PORTIMONENSE
Portimonense have now gone six games without a win, but the 3-1 score line of the latest defeat in Lisbon was flattering at best for Sporting as the Algarveans fought to the bitter end to take home at least a point from the encounter.
The visitors were caught napping early on in the match as Sporting were allowed to establish a two-goal advantage in quick succession, Diaby rising to head in a 10th minute Bruno Fernandes corner before Raphinha beat Ricardo Ferreira at the near post only 60 seconds later for the second.
Any fears that Sporting would now run riot were misplaced, however, Portimonense coming back strongly to cause their illustrious opponents all kinds of problems.
Manager António Folha’s men were desperately unlucky not to have pulled one back when a 21st-minute counter-attack saw Renan in the Sporting goal only able to parry an Aylton Boa Morte shot before a desperate Mathieu lunge kept out Tabata’s follow-up.
Wellington and Lucas then made sure Renan continued to have his hands full with good efforts before the keeper was finally beaten by Paulinho just after the half-hour mark.
With the score now at 2-1, the home side looked decidedly shaky, Renan again coming to the rescue with an outstanding double save from Paulinho and Wellington shortly before the interval, Lucas causing further panic when his free kick smacked against the bar for the last action of the half.
Unfortunately, the break gave Sporting a chance to regroup and play during the second period slowed down considerably. Bruno Fernandes spurned the chance to settle the home side’s nerves in the 63rd minute when placing a free header wide and then forced a great save from Ricardo before finally capping his man-of-the-match performance from the penalty spot during the closing minutes after having been brought down by Boa Morte.
Two minutes of slack defending apart, this was a promising performance from Portimonense, particularly in light of the absence of regulars Jackson Martinez and Dener in addition to the early injury-related withdrawal of Jadson who was replaced by Ruben Fernandes after half-an-hour.
This Sunday afternoon’s visit from Nacional, who have not exactly set the world alight away from Madeira, should therefore provide the perfect opportunity to regain winning ways.
By SKIP BANDELE