The second division championship will be decided this Sunday afternoon after both Portimonense and Aves won their latest matches to maintain the two-point difference between the two already promoted clubs.
Aves temporarily topped the table having beaten Cova da Piedade 3-1 away on Saturday morning, but Portimonense restored their advantage with a 3-2 derby success over Olhanense 24 hours later.
Manager Vitor Oliveira’s men travel to the Azores knowing that victory over Santa Clara will secure the title, while a draw or defeat would still be enough should their sole rivals fail to beat Fafe, who still have an outside chance of avoiding relegation.
However, if Aves do win, anything less than three points for Portimonense would see the Algarveans pipped at the post by either one point or, in case of a draw, their inferior head-to-head comparison with Aves.
Looking back to what will have been the last Algarve derby in professional football for at least a season, over 4,000 fans made their presence felt in the municipal stadium before building work commenced last Monday.
They were treated to a bright start from the home side with Manafá and Zambujo threatening early before Pires and Paulinho combined well to set up Tabata for the 10th-minute opener. Paulinho should have made it two shortly afterwards, but his poor finishing was punished after 23 minutes by a Coubronne header following a corner which brought Olhanense level.
Just after the half-hour mark, Portimonense were back in front after Gleison steered home a Manafá cross from the by-line.
More pressure from the home side at the start of the second half saw a Paulinho shot cleared on the goal line before a Zambujo free-kick grazed the crossbar.
Olhanense keeper Skowron then saw yellow for a foul in his area and Pires stepped up to convert the resulting penalty to make it 3-1. Vehement protest in the aftermath of the incident ‘earned’ Gerevini an early bath, the defender being followed by his assistant coach Rui Oliveira shortly afterwards.
In between the two dismissals, Jorman popped up to pull one back for the visitors, the 3-2 score line remaining until the final whistle.
By SKIP BANDELE