It’s been another week of controversy and incident in Liga NOS with Sporting (once again) providing most of the drama:
Yes, we start this week’s roundup not with the important games of the weekend but with a legitimate surprise. Maritimo have won a game people! Not only that but they managed to score three goals too.
Their 3-2 win over the infuriatingly inconsistent Vitoria Guimaraes saw the best and the worst of Maritimo with three scrappy goals and some piss poor defending and a moment of madness from Charles in goal. They got the crucial three points though to keep themselves in the dead zone of seventh.
Sporting Do Sporting Things
I’ve regularly panned Sporting for being not very good on my adventure to learn about Portugal and Liga NOS and this week is absolutely no exception. Hosting bottom side Moreirense in the final game of the weekend, they huffed and puffed through the 90 minutes, missing a few chances and having Rui Patricio to thank for stopping Moreirense with some good stops. The strugglers even had one chalked off by VAR (correctly) for handball in the build up.
Not very good.
They also spent over half an hour playing with ten thanks to Radosav Petrovic getting two bookings with the second being very soft. But Sporting dug in and eventually got the winner thanks to Gelson Martins’ deflected shot which is where the stupidity levels reached new heights. Already on a yellow, Martins decided the best course of action was to take his shirt off to show a message of support to friend and ex-Sporting defender Ruben Semedo who was arrested in Spain for alleged attempted murder and more criminal goodness. Of course, this meant Martins was sent off, leaving Sporting with nine men and depriving them of one of their key men for their next game: a trip to Porto.
Porto and Benfica: Winning Machines
While Sporting continue to stumble along in the title race, Porto and Benfica have picked things up recently and become ruthless winning machines. Porto were the big winners this weekend as they cruised to a 5-1 win at Portimonense. Moussa Marega got a brace to take him to 20 in the league this season while the continued absence of Aboubakar means that Soares is beginning to find his feet under Sergio Conceicao with another goal.
Benfica were given a scare at Pacos de Ferreira when Alex Grimaldo lost the ball early on to Antonio Xavier who teed up Luiz Phellype to nearly take the net off. Pacos held on until the final 20 minutes thanks to a brilliant goal line clearance from captain Miguel Vieira but they eventually succumbed to Benfica’s persistent pressure with Raul Jimenez teeing up two off the bench for Jonas to get a brace and Rafa to finish things off. Jonas is now on 27 league goals for the season and had a hand in getting Gian sent off for a stamp on the Brazilian.
Still Tight At The Bottom
The battle to stay up continues to be incredibly tight in Portugal. The bottom five all lost while Aves continued their unbeaten run with a 0-0 at ten man Rio Ave.
Pacos lost to Benfica as I mentioned in the last section to stay fourteenth but the defeat was their fourth on the spin which is a worry. They remain ahead of Vitoria Setubal courtesy of games won I think as both sides have identical goals for and against records as well as points. Setubal were rather embarrassingly swept aside 4-0 at Boavista with Yusupha Njie getting a brace.
Estoril are currently occupying the dangerous 16th place after their third consecutive at the quietly effective Chaves. Feirense made it five defeats on the spin to remain above Moreirense in the bottom two with a 1-0 defeat at Belenenses. In my opinion, they’re the team most in danger of being relegated. It’s all a bit desperate at Feirense right now.
Goal of the Week
William (Chaves 2-0 Estoril) – Chaves have been quietly effective and their main man up top is William and, in a week of not great goals, his was the best. With plenty to do, he beat his man and slotted the ball in at the near post to give his side the lead. Every time I see him, he looks more and more like Titi Camara.
Friday night sees a critical game in the title race as Sporting travel to Porto with no Dost or Martins. With Benfica hosting Maritimo on Saturday, will we see a shift in the title race? Also, at the bottom, Moreirense host Pacos in a game that is massive for both sides while there is a battle between promoted sides as Aves host Portimonense.