Newly-promoted Portimonense maintained their challenge for the second division title with a hard-fought away win over Freamunde last Sunday afternoon.
The home side looked to be the more dangerous during the opening exchanges and confirmed that impression on the half-hour mark when Diego Ramos rose at the far post to head a Fausto cross beyond the grasp of Portimonense’s Ricardo Ferreira. The keeper then excelled himself to keep out Vieira as half time approached.
Manager Vítor Oliveira’s men emerged with renewed vigour following the interval as both Pires and Ivo Nicolau came close to restoring parity. Manafá then made way for Gustavo, and the introduction of a fresh pair of legs promptly paid off as the Brazilian latched on to a Gleison pass to make it 1-1 with 20 minutes remaining.
Freamunde came under increasing pressure thereafter and following Leandro’s dismissal for a second bookable offence, Rainho was forced to resort to desperate measures in order to stop the advancing Buba. Pires stepped up to take the resulting spot kick and confidently sunk the winner, his 22nd strike of the current league season.
“We were apathetic during the first half but rectified that to win deservedly,” Oliveira said afterwards. “We want to be champions.”
The only side still in a position to snatch the title from the Algarveans, Aves, kept up the pressure with a 2-1 home success over Penafiel and remain two points behind the leaders.
They next travel to Cova da Piedade on Saturday morning before Portimonense welcome already relegated Olhanense 24 hours later for what could be the last Algarve derby for some time to come.
In other news, Portimonense have extended their lease on the municipal stadium and ‘Dois Irmaos’ training facility from the present 20 to 50 years.
Furthermore, it has been reported that current manager Vítor Oliveira, celebrating his 10th promotion, this time with the club at which he began his coaching career 32 years ago, is inclined to stay for only his third stint in Portugal’s top tier following a “very positive” conversation with Portimonense majority shareholder Theodoro Fonseca.
By SKIP BANDELE