Another week of mental Liga NOS action saw 30 goals fly in across the nine games with Jonas scoring none of them and Aves getting five! Let’s see what happened:
Aves Go Wild
After winning for the first time under Jose Mota, Aves were on the up heading into matchday 22 but a trip to Belenenses would surely be too tough for them right?
Oh, how wrong you’d be.
The league’s bottom side plundered five, yes five, goals away from home to run out 5-2 winners on their travels. They were four goals to the good within 40 minutes with help from some of the most shambolic defending you could ever imagine from the hosts. Nuno Tomas got credited with an own goal for the second where keeper Andre Moreira was beaten by a bobble from a backpass. Somewhere Peter Enckleman got a shiver down his spine.
The result puts Aves into the dizzying heights of 15th, a whole point above the drop zone and only one behind Belenenses who might want to start looking over their shoulders with genuine terror. They’re not the only ones either
More Get Sucked Into Trouble
Only three points separates the now-bottom Vitoria Setubal (by way of defeat to Braga) and 12th place Pacos Ferreira (who lost to Tondela). In fact, you could make a case that Tondela and Portimonense above Pacos are also in trouble as they’re only seven and six points clear of the bottom respectively.
The big winners alongside Aves though were Estoril who won 2-1 at Moreirense in the crucial relegation battle that finished off this week’s action. That was their third win on the bounce, a remarkable turnaround for a team that looked dead and buried just a little over a fortnight ago. That defeat left Moreirense 17th and cost Sergio Vieira his job. Petit returns to the job he left nine months ago.
Big Clubs Cruise To Wins
The Big Three in Portugal have had some issues in recent weeks with dropping points but all three were back to their winning ways even if some of them (Sporting) weren’t at their fluent best.
Porto continued their unbeaten league record this season with a convincing 4-0 win at Chaves. Sergio Conceicao’s men never looked in doubt and warmed up for their thrashing by Liverpool with consummate ease. Soares got two to boost his confidence having had a rough go of it so far this season.
Benfica navigated their own tough trip after they were able to grind out a 3-1 win at Portimonense. Franco Cervi was the hero with two goals here. Look for Cervi to come into his own next season and secure a move elsewhere when Pizzi inevitably leaves this summer. Bad news for Benfica is that Jonas is out for a few weeks with a knee issue picked up here but Raul Jimenez isn’t an awful back up.
Sporting created plenty at home to Feirense but were denied by VAR and Seydou Doumbia’s pretty shoddy finishing. They did eventually get the three points thanks to goals from William Carvalho and Fredy Montero. The one thing I can say with absolute certainty at this stage of the season is that Sporting won’t win the league this season. That squad is a little hodge-podge for my liking.
Another week and another time I have to bash poor old Maritimo. Daniel Ramos is not long for this job surely as they lost 3-0 at Rio Ave. They’ve got just one goal since the turn of the year and they were woeful once again with no threat going forward and Charles in goal all over the place once more. They’re down to 9th now and there’s enough points to play for for Maritimo to find themselves in a dog fight if they don’t pull out of this slump fast.
Goal of the Week
Franco Cervi vs Portimonense – There were plenty options to choose from this week – Soares’ second for Porto, Sergio Oliveira’s volley in the same game or Fabio Esphino’s winner for Boavista – but Cervi’s second is the winner for me. It was an absolutely cracking set piece that eased the pressure building on Benfica and gave them a huge three points.
The fixtures have been kind with this coming weekend shaping up to be crucial for every team in Portugal. The clubs in immediate danger will be hoping to get one up on their rivals this week. Games to look out for down that end include Estoril hosting Belenenses; Pacos travelling to Vitoria Setubal and Aves hosting the woeful Maritimo. The top three all have potential banana skins with Sporting at Tondela; Benfica hosting Boavista and, my game of the week, Porto hosting Rio Ave.