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Posted by portugalpress on January 09, 2018

Portimonense began their 2018 Liga NOS campaign with two matches in five days resulting in hard-fought draws both at home and away.

Last Thursday’s encounter with Belenenses turned out to be a stale mate in every sense as both sides struggled to find any sort of rhythm following the Christmas break, despite the presence of scouts representing Eintracht Frankfurt, Nantes, Sheffield United and Seville at the municipal stadium. They, and the almost 2,500 spectators, were treated to a disjointed and at times turgid affair which produced little in terms of scoring opportunities at either end and quite naturally finished goalless over the 90 minutes.

A completely different game subsequently unfolded on a freezing Monday night in Paços de Ferreira. Cohesive, fluent attacking intent from both sides made for a much more entertaining clash, producing the first of a number of top-class saves from Portimonense keeper Ricardo Ferreira as early as the seventh minute, when the 28-year-old reacted brilliantly to block a powerful André Leão downward header.

By the half-hour mark, the Algarveans had registered four shots on target as opposed to their hosts’ two efforts, but were then stopped in their tracks as Tabata was given his marching orders by referee Luís Ferreira for a rude tackle from behind on the edge of the area, the Brazilian’s second yellow card offence in short succession.

A man down, Portimonense now came under sustained pressure both before and after the interval, Paços finally profiting from their numerical superiority 10 minutes after the re-start when Luiz Phellype, who had only just entered the fray, rose majestically to meet a cross at the far post and bury a looping header across the goal mouth.

Xavier would have doubled the score shortly afterwards but for another splendid reflex finger-tip save from Ricardo, and at that point defeat for the visitors seemed inevitable. However, experienced Portimonense coach Vítor Oliveira had other ideas and threw caution to the wind when bringing on the more attack-minded Ewerton for Dener during the final half-hour.

The decision proved to be a game-changer, restoring Portimonense’s forward momentum with Lumor, Paulinho, Fabrício and Nakajima all testing the home defence’s resolve before the fleet-footed last-named Japanese firebrand struck gold off the inside post from just inside the Paços area.

With the score now delicately poised at 1-1, it was the reinvigorated Algarveans who were pushing for the winner and, given a little bit of luck, Paulinho, Nakajima again or Manafa could easily have stolen all three points before the final whistle was blown.

Under the circumstances, Vítor Oliveira will be very happy with the away point, unlike his opposite number, Paços de Ferreira manager Petit, who stepped down as soon as the dust had settled.

Portimonense have now completed the first half of the season with 18 points, six clear of the relegation zone, from 17 games, and will commence the reverse fixture programme, which will see the likes of Braga, Benfica, Porto and Sporting Lisbon all visiting the Algarve, on Sunday with another away match at Boavista.


Photo: Paços de Ferreira player Ricardo (left) and Portimonense player Shoya Nakajima fighting for ball on January 8 at Estádio da Capital do Móvel in Paços de Ferreira