“I know that we face two matches against the same opponents in a short space of time, but we have nothing to hide from one another,” Portimonense manager Vítor Oliveira said ahead of last Thursday’s League Cup group game against Vitória de Setúbal.
Despite that statement, the Algarveans took to the pitch for the ‘dress rehearsal’- the league fixture which was to follow on Monday must be deemed to have more importance in the greater scheme of things – without six of their regular starters, most significantly stand-out players Shoya Nakajima, Paulinho and Fabrício.
Nonetheless the gamble almost paid off as Pires scored shortly after the interval following a largely uneventful opening half. Portimonense should really have doubled their advantage with 20 minutes remaining on the clock when Setúbal keeper Cristiano did very well to parry a powerful Wellington effort and was then no doubt relieved to see Stanley fail to steer home the loose ball.
That miss proved to be the turning point of the encounter – shortly afterwards the hitherto influential Pedro Sá collected his second yellow card in the space of six minutes reducing the home side to 10 men. Matters became worse as Setúbal’s Edinho went to ground in the area under the gentlest of touches from Wellington and proceeded to level the score from the penalty spot, Gonçalo Paciência completing the turn-around when making it 2-1 in the last minute.
Restored to full strength for Monday’s second meeting between the two sides within five days, Portimonense suffered a shock second-minute reversal when Arnold latched onto a Nuno Pinto through ball to beat keeper Ricardo Ferreira. But this time around, Vítor Oliveira’s men reacted well, an eighth-minute Uri Rosell pile-driver quickly restoring parity before Dener finished off a great move involving Nakajima and Paulinho to make it 2-1 on the night. With 25 minutes gone, Portimonense were firmly in the driving seat, Fabrício increasing the advantage from the penalty spot.
Any hopes of a Setúbal comeback after the interval were snuffed out on the hour-mark when Paulinho drew keeper Trigueira wide before slotting home to finish off another fluent attack.
With the score standing at 4-1, Setúbal’s Vasco Fernandes then saw red and, with 15 minutes remaining, Fabrício had the 2,500 fans on their feet, neatly side-stepping the away defence following a Lumor cross to bury the ball making it 5-1.
There was still time for Pedro Pinto to pull another one back for the visitors but, by the final whistle, Portimonense’s biggest league win of the season was secure.
Now in 11th place, Portimonense travel to second-from-bottom Moreirense this Saturday afternoon looking to consolidate their mid-table position.
By SKIP BANDELE