Primeira Liga Roundup: Round 3

Primeira LigaThe 3rd jornada of the Portuguese League was headlined by the first Classico of the season, but a host of other great contests were on show. FC Porto, Vitoria de Guimaraes and Rio Ave continued to impress with emphatic victories, whilst Braga and Maritimo impressed with solid wins. Mitchell Rua brings you all the action from this week’s Portuguese action with his league round-up.

A false start but three points nonetheless for the Dragons (Porto 3-0 Moreirense)

FC Porto sealed yet another three points, extending their perfect start to their campaign against minnows Moreirense.

Lopetegui continued with his favoured 4-3-3, this time with more attacking zest, foregoing Herrera and Neves’ midfield dynamism, but the Spaniard’s reshuffling did have the desired effect as a torrid open 45 minutes ensued.

Os Tripeiros lacked midfield cohesion, with Oliver and Brahimi, usually employed on the flanks, unwilling to put in a great deal of defensive work as their opposite numbers André Simões and Filipe Melo did the nitty gritty well. Casemiro did little to help matters, earmarking a side without a pure holding midfield as the Brazilian sprayed woeful long balls to little effect.

But after the interval, Porto found their voice. Spaniards Adrián López and José Ángel both impressed as the game grew, with Danilo running rampant on the right. The recent call up to the Seleção must have put a spring in his step as he combined well with Quaresma and Jackson, placing himself in good positions to shoot, with his defensive solidarity on show.

But it was the ever-present Oliver that broke the deadlock at 70 minutes. With the game reaching its climax, Os Dragões began to grow desperate. Brilliant play on the right from Brahimi found a chink in Leal’s defensive armour as the Algerian set up Oliver for a simple finish.

From that point on; Porto never looked like backing down.  Jackson’s intention to stay at the Dragão was met with much applause as the Colombian craque netted a brace. The first came from an error by the reliable Marafona, assisted by José Angel after Oliver dislocated his shoulder upon colliding with the Moreirense shot stopper, ruling him out until late September. The second came minutes after a saved Quintero penalty, with the young Colombian making amends, combining with Adrian and following it up with the assist for Cha Cha Cha.

Lopetegui’s men are yet to concede a goal in competitive competition, breaking the record previously held by the much heralded Andre Villas Boas, with five clean sheets. They now look towards a mouth-watering encounter against one of the form teams of the championship in Guimaraes at the Estádio D. Afonso Henriques next week.

Rio Ave go top as Petit licks his wounds (Rio Ave 4-0 Boavista)

A dark horse for the title race emerged in the Vila do Conde as Rio Ave closed out the round with an empathic victory over As Panteras.

Having guided their passage to the Europa League only four days prior, Pedro Martin’s charges must have still had their minds on the previous nights’ festivities as The Chequered Ones took control of the first 20 minutes. A wake-up call was needed and that came with a shot from Pouga, drawing out the save of the night from Cássio.

From that point, the complexion of the tie changed, swinging in the favour of the home side almost immediately. A lovely curled effort from the deal ball by man-of-the-match Renan Bressan put the Rio Ave freight train into gear at 26 minutes.

Boavista continued to fall as Diego Lopes’ goal followed two minutes later; the visitors going into the break on the cusp of another loss and still yet to score a goal in league play.

The Panthers did not help matters in the second half after centre back Luca Rocha was sent off as the Vila do Condenses were happy to pile on the goals. Perfect combinations and running in the final third, complimented by cohesive ball circulation with the ball painting the turf, underlined a professional performance in evading Petit’s pressing game.

Esmael and Emmanuel Boateng put the icing on the cake in the 80th and 90th minutes respectively. The former, having come off the bench, dispatched an effort into the back of the net from an Ukra ball after fine play on the right. The second came from a header as the Ghanaian revelation scored his first goal for the club, rubbing salt in the wounds of the former powerhouse.

Three games, three wins, eleven goals scored and top of the table! The Northern club now play Moreirense away and welcome Dynamo Kiev to the Vila do Conde. Petit, on the other hand, is left reeling and will look to pick up the pieces after international play: “The break in play will be good to integrate our new players… I’m not happy, I’m disappointed.”

The Arsenalistas back to winning ways as Couceiro remains winless (Braga 2-1 Estoril)

Three of the best was allocated to a contest that started drearily, but ended with 16 000 Minhotos on their feet as Sergio Conceição got his second win for the Arsenalistas after their frustrating draw to Moreirense, leaving Estoril still without a win to their name.

For most of the first-half the match lacked chances and goal mouth action, with Braga showing aggressiveness in playing a high line but had little to show for it as reinstated Alan struggled to make his mark. Instead, it took Pedro Santos to break the ice at the 34th minute with a wonder goal. The diminutive winger nestled the ball in the back of the net with a lovely curled effort with the left boot, bringing the contest to life as Estoril chased the game.

The Lisbon club rarely troubled Kritciuk’s goal until an Emidio Rafael special. The former Porto left-back unleashed a bomb of a free kick, leaving the keeper rooted to his spot only three minutes after the restart.

But no, Braga was going to have the last say on the ‘golaço’ front, as Eder scored the goal of the night only 8 minutes later. Baiano, replacing the injured Goiano, found the Cape-Verdean Seleção striker in the heart of the Estoril penalty box. He took the ball on his chest and majestically dispatched it on the volley, much to the delight of the Braga faithful and Sergio Conceição, securing a deserved win: “We played a game that in the manner that I wanted it to play.”

Set pieces the key as Belenenses force out habits (Belenenses 0-3 Vitoria Guimaraes)

Rui Vitoria’s charges have had the best start imaginable to their league campaign, dispatching their Lisbon adversaries with ease at the Restelo.

Both sides came into the tie level on six points, and a tightly contested tie lived up to its expectations. Earmarked by end-to-end football and chances from the deal ball, both sides wasted opportunities to draw first blood, as Andre Andre rattled the bar early and Rodrigo Dantas wasted a brilliant opportunity one-on-one with Douglas.

Then, things changed. Nii Plange received his marching orders after Fabio Verissimo brandished a red card as Guimaraes argued their case. The same situation had occurred only a week prior to Nacional as Vidigal’s side succumbed to their opponents. Once again this trend persisted, with Os Minhotos reverting to a 4-4-1, leaving Os Lisboetas frustrated and little to show for their numerical advantage.

Miguel Rosa and co. tried their best but old habits persevered as they were decimated from deal ball situations. The set piece was the defining factor in determining the final result, as Matt Jones was only able to evade Defendi’s header, parrying the ball onto the bar only to watch the ball bundled into the back of his net by Andre Andre at 26 minutes.

The Vimaranenses were more than happy to close shop and defend the lead as Belenenses took control of 59% of possession. The Minho club played a conservative game, resting of the laurels and taking their opportunities from set pieces. A corner from Cafú drew another great save from Matt Jones, only for the subsequent corner to seal the win from Tomané’s head.

In the end, Guimaraes was able to expose frailties in Vidigal’s outfit reminiscent of last season, with their inability to take numerical advantages, especially at home, ringing alarm bells. Fredy, Rosa and Deyverson faltered, with keeper Jones ending on a bad note having allowed an Alex free kick past him far too easily in the second half.

On the other hand, Rui Vitoria will be over the moon as Guimaraes won their third consecutive match since the advent of the season, the first time since the 2002/03 where they secured European football.  It may be early to call them title contenders, but the side in black and white look the real deal.

Madeiran delight, Fonseca wins away and a stalemate in Coimbra

After four games without a win, including a two-legged defeat to Dinamo Minsk that ended their European campaign, CD Nacional was able to secure their first win of the season in a solid display against Pedro Emanuel’s Arouca. The Madeirans scored a goal in each half, the first a penalty from Rondon after Nelsinho handled the ball in the area. One-nil up, Nacional grew with the game, evading an Arouca resurgence in the second half as a Marco Matias corner found Suk all alone, finishing strongly and securing the three points after 58 minutes.

Both Paulo Sergio and Domingos Paciência were left rueing missed opportunities after a stalemate at the Estádio EFAPEL.  Académica were very lucky to open the scoring after an own goal from the visiting keeper Lukas Raedar, with a ferocious Marcos Paulo drive bouncing off the German’s back and into his goal. That lead didn’t last long, as responded Venâncio with a header at the second post after a Cristiano corner evaded the keeper. Académica has numerous opportunities thereafter to take all the points but lacked incisiveness in the final third.

Neighbours Penafiel and Paços locked horns, but it was Fonseca’s men that took home their first win of the season, although Ricardo Chéu unlucky not to take at least a point. A solitary Cicero goal ten minutes from time settled the encounter, taking his chance with an instinctive strike from inside the box.

Gil Vicente is still without a win after succumbing to defeat at the hands of Marítimo in Barcelos. Os Galos started the brighter, with Diogo Valente opening the scoring at the 25th minute after a receiving a ball from Avto as his side went into the break with a lead. But the second half was a different story as Marítimo took the game to the Gilistas as Bauer and Maazou scored, leaving Leonel Pontes a happy man.

Match Report: All Even at the Lisbon Derby

Sporting vs Benfica - August 2014

Benfica 1-1 Sporting

Match Report

The Lisbon Derby between Benfica and Sporting at Estadio da Luz on Sunday ended in a 1-1 draw.

Benfica as well as Sporting came into the match undefeated in the early stages of the Primeira Liga and both teams got a point out of the game to ensure their unbeaten records stayed intact.

Both teams have amassed 51 Liga titles (Benfica 33, Sporting 18) between them, so it is usually a very intense derby with title implications, and this game was no different with the action starting early: Slimani’s header just missed from a dangerous Jefferson corner kick in the 3rd minute that had everyone beat.

In the 5th minute Rui Patricio made a great save tipping a well struck Talisca free kick over the bar, in a subsequent play Patricio comes up big again as Luisao’s hard shot off a corner gets pushed out at the far post.

The first goal in this clash of titans came early as Maxi Pereira linked up with Salvio on a give-and-go that fed Gaitan at the top of the box for a Benfica goal. It is one of the prettier goals so far in the young season as Salvio’s incisive run to the box, and Maxi’s quick follow-up caught the Sporting defence on the back foot, besides Patricio’s agility to get his hand on the Gaitan wonder strike, he had no chance and was beaten to the near post in the 11th minute.

Sporting fought back and with great pressure caused Artur to make an unforced error when Eliseu’s back pass was literally that a mishit off of Carillo’s backside (who charged down the ball) to hit an open Slimani in front of goal. Slimani made sure to penalize the Goalkeeper by heading it in off of the line for the tying goal making the scoreline level at 1-1.

Benfica along with Sporting traded chances to close out the first half with Eliseu hitting a bomb that went over the bar in the 26th minute, as well as Slimani getting a couple of good chances one in the 28th that he hit weakly towards Artur, and in the 42nd when he deflected a ball that Artur made a great save on (the Ref called the play back on an offside).

Second half started quickly with Gaitan chipping Patricio but the effort went over the bar in the 47th minute, then he turned provider when his cross to Salvio at the top of the box who shot just wide of the right post (48’).

Benfica kept the pressure on and had the better chances in the second half, with Talisca’s dangerous shot on goal in the 61st minute ricocheting off of Mauricio wide right (it almost caught Patricio out), which led to a threatening strike from outside the box by Enzo Perez that just evaded the far post (61’).

Salvio was then fed all alone in the heart of the box by a clever pass from Lima on the byline, but he could only muster a direct strike at Patricio who easily pushed it from harm’s way (62’). The action didn’t stop there as a great corner from Talisca found Andre Almeida’s powerful header in the box, forcing Patricio to make a spectacular flying save on the Portuguese International (64’). Lima then again made a dangerous run off of a Gaitan diagonal and found Salvio open at the back post (66’), but Salvio could only hit the side netting from the deadly cross.

Although Benfica had the Lion’s share of chances (excuse the pun) Sporting was never out of this game and a menacing free kick from Jefferson in the 71st minute forced Artur to make an acrobatic save to keep the match tied. Nani then headed easily right at Artur (73’) from a good cross from Capel.

Gaitan got Benfica back in the action in the 79th minute off of an Eliseu corner, when he rose above everyone in the box and just missed the near post with a powerful header.

SportingCP got the final good chance of the game when Nani delivered a dangerous cross to Slimani in the box, which forced an instinctive reflex save out of Artur to keep things level.

In the end both sides dropped points in the title race, but are still undefeated.