The Portuguese league kicked off this past weekend, much to the delight of the followers of the Portuguese game. Here’s the round-up by Mitchell Rua of all the matches played this weekend.
A Dream Debut (FC Porto 2-0 Marítimo)
FC Porto opened their campaign with a solid display against European hopefuls Marítimo in front of a packed Estádio do Dragão, capped off by goals from teenage debutant Ruben Neves Jackson Martinez.
Neves, the youngest player to start a league match for the Dragões opened the scoring after just 12 minutes, as the young Tripeiro rifled a shot from inside the penalty area past keeper Salin after receiving a deflected cross from the left.
Leonel Ponte’s men tried to respond, with Diego Sousa and Fran Sergio testing Fabiano, but to no avail, as Porto controlled most of the first-half. Oliver Torres was at the heart of each attack, with impressive ball circulation as both Quaresma and Brahimi wreaked havoc on the wings.
The second half brought an improved display as Marítimo’s resolve waned. Jackson began to rise to the occasion, with a couple of half-chances falling his way. Pontes threw on former Guimaraes striker Maazou in the hope of salvaging a point but opportunities were few and far between as the Madeirenses rued missed chances.
It was Lopetegui’s substitutes, Evandro and Tello that brought some much needed attacking penetration. The latter’s jinking run from the right and pass into the path of Cha Cha Cha was converted at the second attempt at the death as Porto got the deserved three points.
Gaitán answers his critics as Benfica break the curse (Benfica 2-0 Paços de Ferreira)
Benfica put in a dominant performance against last year’s bottom dwellers Paços in a match earmarked by the in-from Nicolas Gaitán, breaking a 10 year drought of opening games without a win.
Fonseca’s troops started the better of the two sides, wasting a golden opportunity from the penalty spot as Manuel Joe’s spot kick was saved by Artur with a diving save in potentially his last game for the Águias.
Gaitán found a vein of form sorely missed from his early Benfica days with two assists. The Argentine ran riot as Os Castores undoubtedly rueing missed opportunities as Maxi Pereira and Salvio netted a goal in each half.
The only blip on the Benfica radar came with an injury to combative workhorse Enzo Perez in potentially his last game for the club with the rumour mill in full swing over a potential transfer.
False start for Silva and co. (Académica 1-1 Sporting CP)
Sporting disappointed in their opening tie of the season, dropping two points to The Students. Os Verde-e-Brancos came into the tie having not lost in 36 years in Coimbra, and after Carillo’s header from a fine Jefferson cross it looked as if this trend would continue.
Marco Silva’s side took advantage of an Académica side under renovation, with sixteen departures and a new-look defence accounting for Sporting’s dominance, although the tie had not yet been put to bed after a flurry of opportunities to the visitors.
As the game wore on, Sporting’s stranglehold gradually weakened. Missing Slimani’s presence in the final third due to disciplinary measures, an out-of-touch William, sent off for a second bookable offence, and a Cédric injury opened the door for the home side.
In the end, Académica were able to salvage a point with from a Carrillo error as a last-gasp equaliser from Rafael Lopes sharing the points, much to the delight of the Mancha Negra faithful and coach Paulo Sergio: “There’s merit, but it’s only a point.”
Reality check for the Panthers (Braga 3-0 Boavista)
One of only two clubs outside the ‘Big Three’ to have won the league, Boavista was given a huge wakeup call against the Arsenalistas.
Six years after being demoted to the second division, and subsequently the third tier, Os Axadrezados, and former player, turned coach Petit, have a lot of hard work to do, conceding a goal to Pedro Tiba inside a minute.
History aside, the gulf in class was evident as Ruben Micael and Éder added further misery. A leaner footballing calendar for Sérgio Conceição could spell European football next season and a tilt at the coveted title that alluded them three years prior.
Guimaraes and Belenenses impress as Moreirense surprise
Belenenses and Vitoria Guimaraes both impressed away from home with 3-1 wins. Rui Vitória was “satisfied with the result” as a brace from B team graduate Hernani sandwiched a Bernard strike against Os Galos in Barcelos.
Newly-promoted Penafiel’s frailties were exposed Lito Vidigal’s Belenenses as the Lisbon-side left with three points thanks to goals from Sturgeon, Deyverson and Miguel Rosa, with Joao Martin’s penalty doing little to stop the organised outfit from Belem.
In Vila do Conde, European debutants Rio Ave continued to ride a wave of from after a solid 2-0 victory in a game with three red cards. Pedro Martins’ ten men took the lead through Diego Lopes having gone a man down, with a red card from Setubal’s Zequinha followed by Marcelo’s strike in the 77th minute, putting the game to bed. A late Manu sending off made little difference as Paciência made a poor start in his return to Portuguese football.
The biggest surprise of the round came with victory from Moreirense at the Choupana against Nacional, with Miguel Leal’s side finding the back of the net through substitute Ramon Cardozo. The former Setubal striker is known to have a keen eye for goal and he was the difference in the 80th minute as Machado’s men were left with egg on their face.
Jose Couceiro’s first game in charge of the league’s surprise package over the last couple of seasons, Estoril, ended in a stalemate. Last year’s new boys Arouca opened the scoring through Pintassilgo in the 17th minute, making the most of a Ruben Fernandes error. Estoril quickly responded; the Canarinhos scoring through former GD Chaves striker Kuca. Neither side could settle the tie, Couceiro venting his frustrations: “We created various opportunities on goal, but we paid for our mistakes.”