Portuguese duels

Last Sunday afternoon saw the eagerly awaited clash between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford. Both sides went into the game on the back of mid-week Champions League reversals – if that was not enough, José Mourinho’s war of words with Arsenal required a convincing performance to quell any sniggering at Highbury, while Alex Ferguson would find it difficult to stomach yet another heavy league defeat. In a way, it was also a Portuguese duel: Mourinho v Queiroz and Ronaldo v Ferreira. The first half dead lock was broken by a looping header from Darren Fletcher that eluded both keeper and defence. 1-0 up, Manchester were besieged by Chelsea during the second period, but Van der Sar and the backs stood firm. A strong Paul Scholes performance marshaled a previously headless United 11 to inflict Chelsea’s first Premiership defeat for over a year.

On a different scale, the biggest game of the season so far in the Algarve was just as important to the record 10,000 crowd that made their way to Olhão on Sunday. The host, Olhanense, third in Portugal’s second tier, had not lost to Portimonense, sixth, in four previous encounters – yet both teams needed to win to maintain their promotion challenges.

A victory, however, was to be denied both. Olhão went ahead through a fifth minute penalty, Serjão had a spot-kick saved. The visitors were down to 10 men for the second half, yet Portimonense went on to dominate equalising through Abreu.