Portimonense lost at home to bottom club Estoril under controversial circumstances last Saturday afternoon following a generally below par performance.
The opening half-an-hour produced a lively exchange lacking only in real scoring opportunities before referee Helder Malheiro contributed significantly to the final outcome of the match.
In the 38th minute, Algerian Estoril central defender Halliche brought down Wellington in the area, prompting Mr Malheiro to produce a yellow card and point to the spot. However, before the kick could be taken and alerted by the fourth official, a review of the incident on the newly-introduced VAR system, still awaiting approval in other countries, showed that Wellington’s hand had made contact with the ball immediately prior to the foul being committed – consequently the referee reversed his decision and rescinded the card, awarding a free kick to the visitors instead.
Adding insult to injury, the erstwhile ‘sinner’ Halliche then turned ‘saint’ only two minutes later when at hand to guide home a cross played into the Portimonense area by Pepe for what turned out to be the only goal of the game. Allano almost made it two without reply before the interval but for a good save from Ricardo Ferreira.
Manager Vítor Oliveira’s men finally began to find their rhythm after the restart, forcing Brazilian keeper Renan Ribeiro into a series of stops culminating in a 79th-minute point blank defence from a Dener header.
Fabrício went close again before seven minutes of added time saw Ribeiro excel once more in keeping out Lucas’ headed goal-bound effort. Portimonense’s afternoon was then summed up when Pires pulled his shot wide with the goal at his mercy as the final whistle ended a disappointing contest.
“We were not at our best and did little to change the game” were Oliveira’s terse words after the match.
With four matches remaining of the season, Portimonense have a nine-point cushion above the two relegation places which should be enough to guarantee top-flight football for another year. A win over Chaves this Sunday would make absolutely sure ahead of Sporting Lisbon coming to town the following weekend.
By SKIP BANDELE
Photo: “We were not at our best and did little to change the game,” said Portimonense coach Vítor Oliveira