This Week In Portugal: VAR Foiled As The Bottom Four All Win

Liga NOS

It’s been another curious week in Portugal with surprising results and a huge blow to VAR.

Boavista Fans Inadvertently Foil VAR

We start this week at Aves, a team I said last week needed to get their finger out soon if they wanted any chance of staying up this season. Well, lo and behold they did in the weekend’s final match against Boavista although the away side will feel hard done by on one of the goals. Actually make that two.

The opener was the flimsiest of flimsy penalty decisions complete with beautiful flat back bump from a tap on the shoulder. The third and final goal of Aves’ 3-0 was the pick though. Vitor Gomes tapped in from the excellent Guedes’ header at a corner and even Stevie Wonder would have called him offside. He was a good two yards off but the linesman never called it so the ref attempted to go to VAR which was a problem. The camera for VAR that would have given that call was obscured by a man waving a giant Boavista flag right in front of it. The television picture was quite literally a flag moving in front of the camera. Since no clear decision could be made (even though it was obvious to people with eyes) the goal was given.

In truth though, Aves deserved their win as they were fantastic and full of attacking verve and vigour. It’s a promising start under new boss Jose Mota and the signing of Federico Tissone in midfield could be a smart one. As for Boavista, life goes on.

Bottom Clubs Win To Change Absolutely Nothing

Aves’ win on Tuesday night mean that they didn’t lost ground on the three teams above them who all won this weekend.

Moreirense were first on the board with maximum points as they toughed out a 2-1 win at Tondela. This was actually a very good game for a neutral as both sides created chances. In the end, the partnership of Edno and Toze proved the difference with the former setting up the latter for both goals.

Estoril were next with possibly the biggest surprise of the weekend if you don’t watch Liga NOS, beating Sporting 2-0 at home. Sporting have been very poor recently and their League Cup win really masked their shoddy performances. Chambos Kyriakou opened the scoring before Ewandro punished, with the help of VAR, Jeremy Mathieu’s lazy attempt to play offside on the edge of his own area. I called the Frenchman a liability last week and he proved as much again.

Finally, Vitoria Setubal got their own three points with a comfortable 3-0 win over Belenenses. The away side have been hit and miss all season and this one was definitely a miss for them. They were woeful at the back and Vitoria didn’t look like they were missing the recently departed Goncalo Pacienca here at all. Edinho added another goal to his recent impressive spell and his physical presence cause all manner of problems for Belenenses here.

Change At The Top

With Sporting’s first defeat of the season coming at Estoril, it is now Porto who sit top of the table after winning this week’s big game against Braga. Porto were by far the better team throughout this encounter and Braga struggled to deal with their greater physicality. Sergio Conceicao likes his side to be direct and quick and they really overpowered Braga here. Alex Telles was the stand out here with all three assists.

Benfica are now second too as they hit Rio Ave for five in the second half to win 5-1. Rio Ave took the lead early but struggled with set pieces here as Benfica ran riot in the second half including Jonas’ 25th league goal of another remarkable campaign. For Rio Ave, they’ve conceded nine in two games and my praise for them a couple of weeks ago looks misplaced.

Maritimo Struggles Continue

Maritimo are not having a good time right now. Actually, that’s quite the understatement: their form has been abysmal. Their last win was a 1-0 victory over Braga on 11 December and since they’ve pick up 2 points from 21, scoring three goals and conceding 15. This includes their latest miserable outing at the ever entertaining Portimonense.

This one was over within half an hour as Portimonense blitzed the woeful Maritimo backline with three very easy goals. The front three of Nakajima, Fabricio and Tabata were sensational with Fabricio making it five in two games with a brace here. Special mention to Maritimo keeper Charles who refused to leave his precious goal line and gave Fabricio the easiest two finishes. Poor Maritimo boss Daniel Ramos might be feeling the heat about now.

Finance or Football?

Benfica were in the news last week with presidents and whatnot accused of some shady monetary stuff. This week, A Bola revealed that January freebie Erdal Rakip’s loan move to Crystal Palace contained an apparent 10 million Euro buyout clause. Quite a few websites seemed confused by the decision to let a potentially good player (and one A Bola tipped to replace the much coveted Pizzi in Benfica’s midfield from the summer) go with a buyout clause. It begs the question of whether or not this is a footballing move or a financial one? Either way, Benfica will gain something from it.

Goal of the Week

Edinho (Vitoria Setubal 3-0 Belenenses) – There were a couple of decent strikes this week in Liga NOS but Edinho’s opener for Setubal was brilliant: a free kick from 30 yards that he just casually banged into the top corner. Unsaveable.

Team of the Week

Estoril – It could have been any of the bottom four for their wins but Estoril made it two wins on the spin and deservedly so. They handed Sporting their first defeat of the season and could have had more in the end. They’re looking good just now.

Next Week

League action sees Portimonense host Benfica in what should be a really fun and entertaining game. My game of the week though is at the other end of the table as 15th place Moreirense host 17th place Estoril in a huge relegation clash. Will Estoril be able to get out of the bottom two?

Plus, there’s another Clasico as Sporting take on Porto in the first leg of the Portuguese Cup semi final. There’s been no goal in the previous two meetings so will we see some and who will take control of this tie?