From the home of Mourinho, Ronaldo and Xavier
October 4th, 11pm plus the five minutes of injury time given by the referee. That moment marked a milestone: not just the the first points Porto have dropped this season, but the end of their impressive run of 21 (!) consecutive league victories.
Guimarães' Estádio Afonso Henriques stadium (it's named after the first king of Portugal, a local lad) witnessed an intense match which Porto controlled for large periods. In-form forward Hulk dazzled his opponents before firing a low shot past the hapless Nilson on the half-hour.
Ten minutes later, João Moutinho missed a glorious chance to give his team a comfortable two-goal lead when he sent the ball just wide of the far post. The former Sporting poster-boy would rue that golden opportunity as substitute Faouzi leveled in the 64th minute. Porto pushed for a second goal – despite being down to 10 men after Fucile's second yellow – but were held for the first time in months.
Sporting were also held to a 1-1 away draw, surprisingly, at Beira-Mar. In all honesty, they were the better side and created plenty of goalscoring opportunities, but let's not lay the blame on bad luck. You need to have the players to be lucky on the field.
Postiga hit the post, Rui Patricio made a mess from Renan’s free-kick and Rui Rego – Beira Mar goalkeeper – enjoyed a particularly inspired evening, but that’s not an excuse if you want to be taken seriously in the league. Another two points dropped and things look pretty grim at this stage of the competition….Goal of the round
Carlos Martins had received good news when national manager and former nemesis Paulo Bento announced his Euro 2012 squad for the crucial encounters against Denmark and Iceland. It has been more than two years since the gifted yet inconsistent Martins was called-up, but his fine recent performances have convinced Bento and the stunning goal against Braga was further proof of his good form. After a good pass from Javier Saviola, the Portuguese playmaker received the ball with his right foot, before unleashing a left-footed thunderbolt into the top of the net that gave the keeper no chance whatsoever.
Vintage Martins, who just like a seasoned sniper fancies a shot from just about anywhere!
Last week, the Portugeezer declared Guimarães and Académica as the surprise packages of the season, even if it may be slightly too early to confirm that status. Well, it would no longer feel right to exclude Olhanense from that group. Daúto Faquirá’s men have been playing well and currently sit third in the league table. Not bad for a team who struggled for much of last season! They travel to Braga in the next round of games and it will be interesting to see if they can cause the Minho Warriors problems.
Like Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson, Paulo Sérgio has joined the list of ugly duckling managers who may be too good for a relegation struggler but not good enough for a team that wants to win silverware. It is a bit of shame though, because most of what is happening is not his fault - Sporting seem to be run by the clueless - but how much longer can he realistically expect having claimed 9 points out of a possible 21?
Porto suffered their first setback – if you can call a 1-1 draw at Guimarães a setback – and are now just seven points ahead of Benfica, Olhanense and Guimarães. Was Monday's result a minor hiccup in their relentless pursuit of the title, or was it a sign they can be beaten just like anybody else?
RESULTS Fri Oct 1 Leiria 2-1 Académica Sat Oct 2 Olhanense 3-1 Vitória
Setúbal Sun Oct 3 Benfica 1-0 Braga, Naval 1-2 Paços Ferreira, Nacional
3-1 Portimonense, Rio Ave 0-0 Marítimo Mon Oct 4 Vitória Guimarães 1-1
Porto, Beira-Mar 1-1 Sporting.
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