Portimonense: that sinking feeling


Portimonense celebrated a last hurrah with a 2-0 victory over Aves at their Municipal Stadium last Sunday evening, but the win was not enough to stave off relegation as Liga Nos rivals Setúbal and Tondela also ended the season with success.

Unfavourable results over the penultimate round of matches had left Portimonense a point behind their direct rivals and in need of a win, while hoping that either Setúbal or Tondela slipped up. Unfortunately, things never looked promising as the three games got under way simultaneously in different parts of the country.

Setúbal were the first to score when Jubal headed home on the half-hour mark and Eber Bessa looked to have doubled that advantage minutes later only to see his strike adjudged offside by five centimetres. Further north, Tondela also went ahead when João Pedro converted a penalty on the stroke of half time.

Meanwhile, Portimonense were struggling against a depleted yet spirited Aves eleven and ended the half goalless.

At this stage, the Algarveans looked dead and buried but the final 45 minutes of the season still offered up some hope. Willyan finally scored for manager Paulo Sérgio’s side with an hour on the clock, up north João Aurélio levelled for Moreirense and, in the centre of the country, Belenenses missed two absolute sitters.

As things stood, a goal at either of the last two mentioned encounters in favour of the already ‘safe’ clubs would have seen Portimonense survive. Alas, the opposite was to unfold over the final moments: just as Dener made sure of a positive result at the Municipal Stadium by making it 2-0 against Aves in the 89th minute, Pepelu stroked home a second penalty for Tondela 60 seconds later while the 94th minute had Setúbal breathing a huge sigh of relief as Bruno Pirri finally make it 2-0 at the Bonfim Stadium – game over.

Portimonense will now prepare for life in the second division and, hopefully, a swift return to the top tier. The club would like Paulo Sérgio, responsible post-lockdown for 17 of the season’s 33-point total, to stay, but the manager is yet to decide on his immediate future. It is also hoped that influential players such as Tabata, Dener, Lucas Possignolo and goalkeeper Gonda will remain in the Algarve while long-suffering forward Jackson Martinez is expected to hang up his boots.