Portimonense extended their lead over Aves at the top of the second division to 11 points with a 1-0 win against Fafe while their closest rivals were surprisingly beaten 2-1 at struggling Sporting B.
Manager Vitor Oliveira’s makeshift team – first choice Marcel, Ivo Nicolau, Lucas and Jadson were all missing due to injury or bans – put the visitors under sustained pressure from the start on Sunday afternoon and, after several near misses, under-fire Fafe keeper Ricardo Fernandes brought down Fabrício in the area. He partially redeemed himself by parrying Ricardo Pessoa’s subsequent 18th-minute spot kick but was powerless to keep out Paulinho’s follow-up.
Portimonense could easily have doubled their lead shortly afterwards when Pires latched on to a clever Gleison lob but his goal-bound effort was blocked.
A largely uneventful second half then saw Paulinho go close once more before home keeper Ricardo Ferreira held on to all three points with a great double save from Brandão and Samu at the death.
Elsewhere, Benfica B (cannot get promoted) and Varzim moved to within six points of Aves with away successes over Leixões and Olhanense, respectively, but one-time pretenders Académica and Santa Clara continue to drop away and now find themselves 20 points off the pace.
Portimonense could have been even further ahead in the table but for a rather insipid mid-week performance when Sporting Covilhã ran out the deserved 1-0 winners of the two clubs’ catch-up game previously postponed due to a snow-covered pitch.
The Algarvians will next travel to last season’s second division champions FC Porto B, currently occupying a less-formidable-looking 17th place in the table, for a late 5pm Sunday afternoon kick-off.
In other news, Portimonense’s reported summer signing Keaton Parks has ‘gone missing’ at his present club Varzim while former players Amilton and Lumor appear to be finding their feet in Germany as both were on target for 1860 Munich during a recent 2. Bundesliga success.
By SKIP BANDELE
Photo: Portimonense’s Paulinho scored the only goal of the match