Olhanense welcomed the New Year with victory over Oriental (Lisbon) giving new manager Bruno Ribeiro the perfect start to his first game in-charge.
Maltese international Muscat (suspension) and Rafael Tavares were replaced at the heart of the Olhanense defence by Edu Pinheiro and Joshua. The home side started brightly and looked intent on showing why they are the highest scoring team in Portugal’s top three leagues, even outscoring Benfica!
Several goal-scoring opportunities were wasted before João Vasco was tripped in the box, on 27 minutes, and referee João Marques had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
João Vasco stepped up and calmly slotted the ball past Oriental keeper Fábio Matos.
The large crowd, enjoying the late afternoon sunshine, were looking for a deluge of second-half goals but despite numerous chances – most of which fell to top scorer Hassan – the gap between the two teams remained at a single goal.
Olhanense skipper Leleco was pulling the strings in midfield and young wing-back Lelo was also in impressive form.
As stoppage time approached, a ricochet clearance fell kindly to Oriental’s Vitor Mendes, who was clear through on goal, but Rodrigo was quick off his line to make a fine save.
Deep into stoppage time, João Vasco and Hassan combined well to give substitute Rafael Floro the easiest of chances to make it 2-0.
Olhanense, having lost only once all season, are now three points clear at the top of the Campeonato de Portugal Division D as Real SC lost at 1º Dezembro.
Alverca are in third place, six points behind the leaders, whilst Louletano moved up to fourth with a 2-0 win at Pinhalnovense. On Sunday, Olhanense travel to Sintra to play SU Sintrense.
By CHRIS WRIGHT