match reports - 2002/03
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Portugal 2-1 Brazil (Friendly)

Portugal: Ricardo, Paulo Ferreira, Fernando Couto, Fernando Meira, Rui Jorge, Costinha, Maniche (Luís Loureiro), Rui Costa, Sérgio Conceição, Simão (Miguel), Pauleta

Brazil: Marcos, Cafu, Luisão, Edmilson, Gilberto, Roberto Carlos (red), Kléberson, Zé Roberto (Amoroso, Júnior), Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Ronaldo (Adriano)

Man of the Match: Pauleta (Portugal)

Portugal dominated in spells and managed to fend off in others the mighty Brazil, World Champions. The first twenty minutes were probably crucial, when Portugal showed that they were not in awe of these masters. It took just seven minutes for Portugal to take the pressure off, Simão touching a short corner on the right to Sérgio Conceição for the Inter player to cross low and Bordeaux striker Pauleta to apply a subtle touch at the near post and fox Marcos. Brazil responded swiftly, Ronaldinho passing an out of position Ricardo but seeing his goalward shot deflected just past by the chest of Fernando Couto.

It was the Canarinhos who dominated the next phase of the game. Zé Roberto made the line on the left and crossed low for Rivaldo to somehow miss his kick, back-heeling the ball away from the goal, and on the half-hour, Roberto Carlos found space for a shot but his swerving drive only shaved the post.

Portugal had one more good chance in the half, Rui Costa and Paulo Ferreira combining to set up Pauleta on 35 minutes, but the Açoriano shot over. Brazil, though, came close twice before the break, free kicks by Roberto and Rivaldo coming off the woodwork, Rivaldo's touched there by Ricardo.

Fifteen minutes into the second half, the moment the Antas crowd had been waiting for: their Mágico Deco on for Sérgio Conceição for his first game in a Portugal shirt after his naturalisation. His powers were insufficient to stop Brazil's equaliser, however. On 20 minutes, Ronaldinho broke inside from the right and was fouled by Simão as he entered the area. the foul took place outside the box, Ronaldinho fell inside and the Israeli referee pointed to the spot. Ronaldinho himself placed an unstoppable shot high and right of Ricardo's left hand.

Portugal took the game to Brazil once again. Deco shot wide and Pauleta shot twice for Marcos to stop. Then on 40 minutes, the crunch. Roberto Carlos was sent off for a challenge on the referee after Portugal had been awarded a free kick outside the box, and Deco stepped up to stroke the free low and inside Marcos's right-hand post. It was the perfect tie-up to a controversy that has been raging for weeks - the naturalised Brazilian Deco was now finally Portuguese.



Sporting 1-1 Boavista (SuperLiga, Day 25)

Sporting: Tiago, Quiroga (Paulo Bento), Hugo, Contreras, Tello, Rui Bento, Toñito, Pedro Barbosa, João Pinto (Kutusov), Quaresma (Ronaldo), Jardel

Boavista: Ricardo, Rui Oscar, Paulo Turra (red card), Éder, Mário Loja, Ávalos, Filipe Anunciação, Érivan, Jocivalter (Pedrosa), Duda (Bosingwa), Silva (Cafu)

Man of the Match: Toñito (Sporting)

Sporting are in the doldrums, and it looks as if they have resigned themselves to settling for third place in the SuperLiga. Sunday night's display was a mixture of lack of spirit, lack of confidence and the occasional lack of competence. Boavista, on the other hand, looked a well organised if unadventurous side, and while their league position may bely their value as a team, they are really a shadow of the force that has shaken up Portuguese football in the last three or four years.

One of their major assets, however, is fight, and they had to do plenty of that in this game, reduced as they were to ten and 1-0 down after just five minutes. Former Boavista favourite João Pinto found some space on the right and crossed low for Jardel, who was pulled back by Paulo Turra just as he was about to score. Turra saw a direct red and Jardel sent Ricardo the wrong way from the spot.

Instead of going for the jugular, Sporting allowed Boavista to recover from this early setback, and on 21 minutes allowed Brazilian midfielder Jocivalter all the space in the world on the left to take on a pass from Erivan and shoot under the body of Tiago.

Sporting created several good chances before the break, Toñito and Jardel both blasting over and Pedro Barbosa driving in a vicious low cross that just needed a touch from someone. Boavista's best chance was from Hugo, Sporting's central defender, who ballooned a back-header over his own bar from near the edge of the box.

The first chance of the second half also fell to Boavista, the impressive Silva getting in a text-book header that Tiago got down to gather. But the rest of the half was Sporting attacking in fits and starts, and Boavista increasingly on the back foot. But it wasn't Sporting's night: the busy Toñito hit the post on 15 minutes, Jardel missed two good chances at the back post after Pedro Barbosa corners had been knocked on from the near post, and Boavista defenders took the ball off the toes of Ronaldo and Contreras when they were clean through on goal.

Sporting's fans (under 10,000, reflecting the low morale of all connected with the club) were unhappy with the substitutions that coach Bölöni made in the second half (pulling off favourites Quaresma and João Pinto) and there were a few handkerchiefs out at the end to demonstrate their dissatisfaction. They will be aware that the chances are now slim that they can qualify for the Champions League, especially given their bad run of form. As for Boavista, they can only really aspire now to a safe mid-table position ... and a continuation of their UEFA Cup campaign.



Benfica FC Porto (SuperLiga, Day 24)

Benfica: Moreira, Miguel, Argel (Armando), Helder, Ricardo Rocha (red card), Tiago, Petit (Andersson), Zahovic (Sokota), Simão, Geovanni, Nuno Gomes

FC Porto: Vítor Baía, Paulo Ferreira, Jorge Costa, Pedro Emanuel, Ricardo Costa, Maniche, Deco, Alenitchev (Alenitchev), Capucho (Marco Ferreira), Derlei, Hélder Postiga (Jankauskas)

Man of the Match: Maniche (FC Porto)

FC Porto virtually put paid to Benfica's slim title aspirations Tuesday when they visited the old Luz for the last time and put on a show of superb, cohesive team football and fight that had Benfica powerless.

The first half was completely dominated by the Dragons, winning ball after ball in midfield and constructing sustained attacking moves through the excellent Maniche and Deco, while Benfica's Nuno Gomes was stranded up front with rarely anyone in support. As early as the eighth minute, the promising striker Hélder Postiga was through on the Benfica goal but allowed Moreira to save his weak chip. Then on 22, Deco floated a vicious free-kick in from wide on the right for Moreira to palm over. Derlei headed wide two minutes later, and if it hadn't been for some wasteful finishing by Porto, and some safe keeping by Moreira, the game might have been well and truly over by half time. Benfica' first real chance came on 35 minutes, Nuno Gomes curling a shot past Baía's left hand from the edge of the box, but the ball shaved the post. Porto were in front a minute later, Maniche feeding his partner in midfield creativity Deco who took it on and struck his shot past the oncoming Moreira. The otherwise inconsequential Zahovic put Geovanni through for Benfica's only other worthwhile attempt before the break, but the Brazilian winger hit the side netting. Still before the break, Postiga and Derlei both had a chance to extend Porto's lead, but they went in at the break justifiably confident that the game was theirs.

Benfica, probably with their ears smarting from coach Camacho's half-time pep talk, improved considerably in the second half, and it was Geovanni again who had a prime chance to equalise three minutes in, but Baía, safe as houses on the night, saved with his feet. It was a short-lived revival for back came Porto, Deco, Postiga and full-back Paulo Ferreira all coming close. Then on 70 minutes, the virtual end for Benfica. If they had struggled with eleven, they were to struggle more with ten as Ricardo Rocha saw a red card for pulling back Derlei, through on goal. Despite a low cross from sub Sokota that Ricardo Costa cleared before it reached Nuno Gomes under the posts, it was all Porto till the end, and they could have had two or three more through Derlei, Capucho and Jankauskas. But one was enough to seal the victory and by the end have the 5,000 travelling Porto fans singing: "Campeões, Campeões, nós somos Campeões". No one could disagree with them.



Sporting 4-0 Paços de Ferreira (SuperLiga, Day 20)

Sporting: Tiago (Nuno Santos), Quiroga, Hugo, Contreras, Tello, Rui Bento, Ricardo Fernandes, Toñito (Pedro Barbosa), João Pinto (Niculae), Quaresma, Jardel

Paços de Ferreira: Pedro, Mário Sérgio, João armando, Adalberto, Zé Nando, Cadu, Júnior, Pedrinha, Zé Manuel (Rui Mendes), Júlio César (Carlos carneiro), Everaldo (Renato Queiróz)

Man of the Match: Mário Jardel (Sporting)

If someone had seen just the first twenty minutes or so of this match, they would never have believed the final result or score. Sporting looked sluggish, consistently beaten to the ball in the midfield by a lively Paços, making unforced errors and losing the ball and generally looking a tired side without ideas. Paços were marking the key Sporting players effectively (notably Mário Sérgio on Quaresma and Cadu on João Pinto) and building some interesting play, although they were lacking penetration. Even so, the best chance in open pay fell to them, Júlio César finishing off a neat exchange of passes by shooting into the side netting after ten minutes. Sporting's main threat was coming from corners, the third of a series of three flashing across the goal and just needing a touch.

Then on 25 minutes, Quaresma went on a typically mazy run through the heart of the Paços defence but took the ball too wide, and his shot was blocked. Even so, it was a signal that Sporting could create danger from open play, and it was the catalyst for what happened in the remaining three-quarters of the game. On 29, the seemingly rejuvenated Jardel kept a ball from going out on the left-hand touchline, passed back to Toñito and his square ball to re-called Ricardo Fernandes was neatly controlled and slotted calmly beyond Pedro's left hand.

In the next five minutes, Argentinan defender Quiroga went on two strong runs down the right. The first ended in a drive that just cleared the bar, the second in a pass to Toñito, whose shot was parried by Pedro. The loose ball was picked up by Quaresma and his cross to the back post found Jardel. The Brazilian, who hadn't scored in Alvalade since May of last year, calmly chested the ball down, removing his marker Adalberto in the process, and instead of blasting it, he sent the most delicate of lobs over a bemused Pedro. Very possibly the goal of the season so far.

The Alvalade crowd (just 9,000 on a clear but cold Lisbon evening) were chanting Jardel's name by this point, apparently forgiving him for the disruption he caused to the squad at the beginning of the season with his prolonged 'psychological leave' after his divorce. Meanwhile, Paços were in disarray, their neat football of earlier a distant memory. Sporting could have extended their lead by half-time, but Pedro pushed a Toñito shot wide and Jardel mis-hit a shot at the back post from another cross by Quaresma.

The second half started off slowly for both sides, but it was once again Paços who had the first chance, substitute Carlos Carneiro heading into the hands of Tiago. But Paços' football was once again lacking incisiveness and was a shadow of the type of play that had come to be expected of them in previous seasons. It became obvious that this Paços was not going to claw back Sporting's lead, and after 25 minutes, it was all over bar the shouting.

Quaresma broke down the right of an exposed Paços defence, slipped the ball right to João Pinto running through and the diminutive striker took it on, rounded Pedro and was bundled over: penalty to Sporting and a yellow for Pedro, when a red might have been more apropriate. (The TV slow-motion would later show that João Pinto had actually invented the fall, something he is becoming rather too adept at of late). Jardel strode up and coolly planted the ball in the top left-hand corner.

Paços, although down and out, could not be faulted for their spirit and struggled gamely on, coming close to pulling one back when their best player, Zé Manuel, hit the side netting with a free-kick. But on 40 minutes, sporting got the goal that neatly off-set the 0-4 defeat at the hands of Paços earlçier in the season. Niculae, back after injury and on as sub, did some splendid work down the left to recover a ball twice lost, got up and crossed milimetrically to the back post where a neglected Jardel was waiting to get his hat-trick with a text-book header.

In the dying minutes, Paços had a chance to make the score a little less humiliating, Carlos Carneiro pinging a shot off the post and Zé Nando heading over. But an uneven Sporting had done more than enough to take the points, and the return of Jardel to his old form can only augur well for the Lions as they fight it out with benfica for second place.



FC Porto 1-0 Boavista (SuperLiga, Day 19)

FC Porto: Vítor Baía, Paulo Ferreira, Jorge Costa, Pedro Emanuel, Nuno Valente, Costinha, Maniche, Deco, Capucho (Clayton), Derlei (Jankauskas), Hélder Postiga (Alenitchev)

Boavista: Ricardo, Rui Oscar (Duda), Paulo Turra, Éder, Mário Loja, Ávalos, Pedrosa, Pedro santos, Jorge Couto (Bosingwa), Martlinho, Alexandre Goulart (Yuri)

Man of the Match: Vítor Baía (FC Porto)

Before the start of this local derby between two fierce rivals, anyone looking at the statistics would have been forgiven for thinking that a massacre was on the cards: Porto were top, 27 points ahead of a deperately disappointing Boavista; they had scored 39 goals to Boavista's 15; and the players in their starting line up had scored a total of 28, while because of injuries and suspensions, Boavista's had scored just four.

It was not to be the case. Porto had one of their stiffest tests of the campaign so far and scraped through it with scant merit. The tactical merit must go to Jaime Pacheco's men who put up an impenetrable wall in front of Ricardo, while man-to-man-marking, notably of specialist Ávalos on Porto's mastermind Deco, cut off any creativity at source. Porto coach José Mourinho complained after the match about Boavista's negative game plan, but if the truth be told, Porto spent most of the ninety minutes looking impotently for a key to open the padlock.

In fact, in a first half which was as drab as the second, and after Capucho had hit the near post on 25 minutes with a freak cross/shot, it was Boavista who had the most chances. Twice in the space of five minutes Jorge Couto was through on goal, and twice he was thwarted by Baía, very safe on the day. Then a minute from half-time, the resurrected Pedrosa cracked a freekick from a full forty metres that Baía had to scramble across his goal to push wide.

The second half was much the same story, with Boavista playing their containing game to perfection and Porto searching desperately for an opening. The game had 0-0 written all over it, unless either side made a slip. And that's just what happened. On 26 minutes, Ricardo fluffed a clearance, the ball fell to Maniche in midfield and the former Benfica player, also resurrected, fed Deco. The Brazilian found some space for the first time in the game, made the line on the right, and with the Boavista defence caught flat-footed, crossed low. Hélder Postiga swung and missed, Jankauskas, on as sub just a minute before, didn't.

A momentary lapse of concentration had decided the result. Boavista still had twenty minutes to try to claw back a point, and Pacheco brought the lively striker Yuri on for his début, but the team was not built for sustained pressure on the opposite goal and all their efforts were in vain.

Porto notched up their eleventh successive win, Boavista are stuck in the lower reaches. But in terms of preformance, Pacheco will be happier with the way his players responded to the job in hand, despite the latest reverse.



0-2 Benfica (SuperLiga, Day 13)

Sporting: Nélson, Quiroga, Hugo, Contreras, Rui Jorge, Rui Bento (Pedro Barbosa), Paulo Bento (Niculae), Toñito, João Pinto, Cristiano Ronaldo (Quaresma), Jardel

Benfica: Moreira, Argel, Hélder, Cristiano, Tiago (Andrade), Petit, Miguel, Zahovic (Andersson), Simão, Mantorras (Armando), Nuno Gomes

Man of the Match: Argel (Benfica)

Benfica won the last derby to be held in the old Alvalade Stadium Saturday, beating their eternal rivals Sporting 2-0 and beating them well. The Águias were the better side throughout, especially in the opening minutes and during the first half, but also when they were on the back foot late in the second, when sterling defence and dangerous counters had Sporting flummoxed.

José Camacho has arrived at the Luz and stirred up a spirit not seen there for a long time, a spirit of fight and also of mutual help, in short, unity. Benfica played like a real team tonight and the feeling is that they can only get better. Sporting, on the other hand, looked tired bost physically and in terms of ideas. Their defence was found wanting with both Benfica goals, and their attack was too easily stifled by an excellent Benfica defence which didn't put a foot wrong, including the often maligned but tonight superb Argel, who had Jardel in his pocket throughout.

Zahovic set the mood early on with a snap shot that was wide but was an augury of things to come, and Simão reiterated the threat with a cut inside and a shot that was also wide. But on 15, Benfica were in front: Miguel, who had an excellent game down the right, chipped a ball forward, Nuno Gomes beat Hugo to it, nodded it wide for Zahovic and the Slovenian, unmarked and unchallenged, volleyed a dipping shot that fooled Nelson and bounced in.

Sporting's best chance looked to be from dead balls. On 25, Jardel prodded a loose ball from a corner goalwards, but there was Tiago on the line to bundle it clear. Tiago, who is having a great season, was to stay in the changing room at half time with a broken nose, but there was still time in the first for him to pick up a short ball from the left by Simão, take two strides forward and, with the Sporting defence once again failing to challenge, hit it from the edge of the area under the body of Nélson, who might have done better.

It was up to Sporting to take the game to Benfica in the second half to try to drag the game back, and to be fair they did put more pressure on the Benfica goal, but it was largely ineffectual stuff, Jardel and João Pinto getting no change at all from the Benfica back line. Bölöni put Niculae on at half-time but the Romanian striker has never fully recovered from a knee injury picked up last season, and he looked sluggish.

A quarter of an hour in, the Sporting coach brought off young star Ronaldo, who was wasting a lot of ball, and put on Quaresma. But this other young winger showed once again that discipline is not his forté, and five minutes after coming on he was off again, red carded for a head butt on Petit, who saw a second yellow and also walked. Sporting's attacking options were back to square one, with nippy Spaniard Toñito providing most of the danger, and with Chilean centre-back Contreras making some incisive runs from deep.

But inevitably, they left spaces at the back as they strove for a break, and Miguel, Simão and the battling Nuno Gomes might have added to the scoreline on two or three occasions but for a lack of clarity. On 85, Simão swerved in a free for Nélson to redeem himself a little by tipping over, and two minutes later Nélson punched a cross against the body of Contreras, the ball ballooning back and just past the post.

A fully deserved win, then, for Benfica which might have been ampler but which sets them up nicely for a challenge on FC Porto's top spot. Back to the drawing board for Sporting, who have lacked consistency this season and here looked tired and uninspired.



Belenenses 2-0 Académica (SuperLiga, Day 2)

Belenenses: Marco Aurélio, Carlos Fernandes, Wilson, Filgueira, Orestes, Marco Paulo, Eduardo Marques (Rui Borges), Tuck, Neca (Anchouet), Verona, Ludemar (Rogério)

Académica: Pedro Roma, Dino (Nuno Luíz), Raul Oliveira, Tonel, Tixier, André, Paulo Adriano (João Campos), Lucas, Fredy (Vital), Jorginho, Roberto

Man of the Match: Wilson (Belenenses)

Belenenses continued with their bright start to the season, following up their 2-2 draw at FC Porto with this useful win against an always complicated Académica, whose second defeat this was.

Belenenses were accused of negative play in that 2-2 draw, and it must be said that at home, when you might have expected them to open up a little, they were still very careful. But their victory was built on a very solid defence and defensive midfield, with the veteran Wilson superb at the back, and Marco Paulo and Tuck very effective at putting spanners in Académica's best intentions. It was Académica, though, who had the clearest early chances, Paulo Adriano with two dangerous shots, the second held well, low and to his left, by Marco Aurélio. But then on 25 minutes, the mightily impressive Neca, Portuguese U-21 and surely destined for great things, struck: he picked up a loose ball 40 metres out, took it on despite challenges and cracked a beautiful drive from 25 past Pedro Roma's right hand.

Académica hadn't scored in three previous visits to Restelo, spanning 16 years, and the more the game wore on, the more you felt that they weren't going to break that unenviable record. By the end they were throwing everything forward, including central defender Raul Oliveira, but it was Belenenses who came nearest - through Rui Borges on 90 minutes when he had only the ´keeper to beat but allowed the save - and scored - through Marco Paulo, who went on a mazy run across the face of the Students' defence, dummied Tonel out of the way and curled a delightful left-footer beyond Pedro Roma. "It was the most beautiful goal I've ever scored," the midfielder said after the game.

This was well into added time, and Académica were high and dry. The vociferous travelling support applauded them off the field, and they certainly deserved the praise for their effort, but although coach João Alves said: "We're getting better every game, and better days will come," they had better come quickly; they have scored no goals and won no points after two games. Belenenses, on the other hand, and according to assistant coach Nené, can legitimately have other ambitions: "We want to be amongst the top four or five teams." No problem.



Benfica 3-0 Marítimo (SuperLiga, Day 1)

Benfica : Moreira, Armando, João Manuel Pinto, Ricardo Rocha, Cabral, Tiago, Ednilson, Zahovic (Carlitos), Roger (Drulovic), Simão, Nuno Gomes (Feher)

Marítimo: Nélson, Albertino, Van der Gaag, Paulo Sérgio, Ezequias, Zeca, Dinda (Rincón), Joel Santos, Sabry (Eusébio), Alan (Jacques), Gaúcho

Man of the Match: Simão Sabrosa (Benfica)

Benfica took their time warming to the task against Marítimo in their first Superliga game, but at times when they finally did they looked a very impressive side.

It was a very cagey opening from both teams, the first semblance of a threat coming from a Zahovic free-kick that cannoned off the wall, but that was after twelve minutes. Early on, Marítimo looked to have their hoimework studied well: Albertino was closing the dangerous Simão down well on his flank, Zeca was doing the same job on Zahovic in the middle. Roger was having an off day, and for all his effort to take revenge for being released by Benfica, Marítimo's Egyptian Sabry was failing to make a decisive contribution. It was perhaps illustrative of the way play was going that Marítimo had the best chances in the first 20 minutes, and that they came from a free-kick and a long shot: neither team was managing to construct any coherent football, and Dinda's free and Albertino's 30 metre drive, which flew past the bar and post respectively, were the most dangerous moments of that period.

After that point, though, Benfica seemed to come together and rarely lost their grip on the game again. Simão was beginning to click: he switched wings and got a significant yellow out of Ezequias, and his understanding with his international teammate Nuno Gomes promises great things. And it was Simão who made the first goal, bursting through the centre on a typically fluid run and touching the ball to his right to Zahovic. The Slovenian international controlled the ball in front of goal and shot, it was parried by Nélson but looped up in the air, 40,000 Benfiquistas holding their breath until it went over the line.

To their credit, Marítimo came straight back at Benfica with a salvo of threats to the home goal, but the game was more or less over when a rampant Benfica got another just before the break. The excellent Tiago came forward, played a one-two with Simão in a central position, the ball fell to Zahovic and his through pass was perfectly in the path of Tiago who had kept running and slotted the ball confidently home.

Marítimo swapped the ineffectual Sabry and Dinda for Rincón and Eusébio at the break, but although these changes added a bit of spice to their attack, with Gaúcho and Jacques coming close, they mainly hit up against a very solid back four, with Ricardo Rocha especially stout. On 34 minutes, any dim hopes they had vanished when Simão extracted a second yellow, and the subsequent red, from Ezequias and a penalty to boot when the defender brought him down. Simão himself placed the spot-kick wide of Nélson's right hand.

The last ten minutes, with the fresh Drulovic, Feher and Carlitos now on and performing well, was an easy task for Benfica, who could have gone further ahead through Feher. That would have been unfair punshment for the Madeiran side, but there was no doubt who deserved the win on the night.



Vitória de Setúbal 1-1 Boavista (SuperLiga, Day One)

V. Setúbal: Pedro Espinha, Nélson, Hugo Alcântara, Carlos, Rui André, Chipenda, Hélio, Marco Ferreira, Jorginho (Meyong, 82 m), Mário Carlos, Hugo Henrique.

Boavista: Ricardo, Bosingwa, Paulo Turra, Éder, Mário Loja, Ávalos, Jorge Silva, Sanchez (Jocivalter, 57 m), Jorge Couto, Duda (Martelinho, 62 m), Luís Cláudio (Silva, 80 m).

Man of the Match: Bosingwa (Boavista)

Vitória Setúbal and Boavista slugged out what Jaime Pacheco called "a typical opening day game" Thursday. There was lots of huff and puff but precious little football on display from either team, except for some individual flashes, namely from Mário Carlos for Vitória and novice Bosingwa and veteran Jorge Couto for Boavista.

Vitória were the first to show, coming close as early as the fourth minute with a back-post header from central defender Hugo Alcântara that beat Ricardo and the bar. Boavista's first chance came in the sixth minute, Duda playing long to Luiz Cláudio whose low cross-shot was wide of the left-hand post. A couple of minutes later, Bosingwa crossed from the right to Jorge Couto, but the winger wanted to walk it in and it was blocked.

Boavista were looking sluggish, getting caught on the ball and not creating much connected play, while Vitória's best chances were coming from corners and dead-ball situations. An excpetion was a marvellous run inside by Jorginho and a rasping drive that was tipped over by Ricardo. For Boavista, the man most likely to was Bosingwa, and on a typical mazy run down the left the ball reached Duda whose cross was met by the towering Luiz Cláudio for the opening goal (of this match and the Liga) after half an hour.

Vitória came back with a flourish. Marco Ferreira cut inside on the left, fired one in that was parried by Ricardo, collected the loose ball that came back to him after a goalmouth scramble and shot again, with Mário Loja clearing off the line. It was exactly the right policy from Vitória: they didn't let Boavista settle on their lead, and on forty minutes they were level. A cross was 'handled' by Bosingwa (amid angry protests from the Boavista camp) and Hugo Henrique sent Ricardo the wrong way from the spot. Boavista had their own flourish just before the break, with Espinha saving from Sanchez and Luíz Cláudio coming close, but in they went at half-time level.

The second half was a comedy of errors, although it wasn't really that funny. Neither team could improve on what had already been a poor first-half in purely footballing terms, and it was indicative of the dearth of quality that the two best chances came in the dying minutes, both from Boavista. Central defender Turra went on an adventurous run down the right and got the ball to Jocivalter in front of goal, but he swept his shot just wide. Then in added time, Bosingwa sent over a free-kick from the right for Éder to head against Pedro Espinha, Jorge Silva heading the rebound wide.

It was a morsel of excitement at the end of a painful half. It's early days, of course, but on the basis of these displays, neither of these sides will do very much this season.



Sporting 5-1 Leixões (Supertaça Cândido Oliveira, in Setúbal)

Sporting: Tiago, Beto, Hugo, Contreras, Rui Jorge (César Prates), Toñito, Paulo Bento, Ricardo Fernandes, Ricardo Quaresma (Carlos Martins), Niculae (Danny), Kutuzov.

Leixões: Rui Marcos, Néné, Sérgio, Nuno Silva (Marco Aleixo), José António; Guerra (Besirovic), Israel, Abílio, Bruno China; Zamorano (Pedras), Antchouet.

Man of the Match: Ricardo Fernandes (Sporting)

This was a game that Sporting took almost at a stroll, demonstrating the superirority that goes with two divisions of distance (Leixões are from the Segunda B). The only trouble they had was putting Leixões in their place in the first half an hour, until a glorious free-kick from Ricardo Fernandes sailed into the top left hand corner of Rui Marcos' goal. On twenty, the Leixões coach was sent off for words to the fourth official (complaining about the double standards for dishing out yellow cards), and from this point on, and especially after the break, Leixões began to lose their heads and what little chance they had of putting up a fight.

Ricardo Fernandes quickly blotted his copy book on 32, cracking a penalty against the post. Leixões full back Zé António had been sent off for bringing Toñito down in the box, reducing his team to ten and making a hard task practically impossible. Referee João Ferreira was intent on grabbing a bit of the limelight and levelled up the team numbers on 44, sending Sporting captain Beto off for an elbow on Leixões forward Anchouet that seemed accidental.

But although things were level now in terms of protagonists, Sporting were always going to benefit more from the extra space created, and so it proved two minutes into the second half. Niculae stroked the ball out to Quaresma on the right, the winger made the line and cut back a delightful low ball that Niculae just had to make contact with for the second goal. Leixões were still clinging on to respectability until the 54th minute when recent signing Kutusov scored a goal full of determination: his attempt to get to the goal-line on the left was intercepted by two Leixões defenders, but he never said 'die' and recovered it before it went out, took it back away from the goal and beyond the desperate hands of Rui Marcos, turned and clipped it back into the goal between two defenders who were there to cover their ´keeper - the goal of the game.

Sporting were on a roll, and Leixões' last chance to make a game of it came and went with a goal by Pedras disallowed for a foul a quarter of an hour before the end. Sporting slipped up a gear just in case and got two more before the end: Ricardo Fernandes got his second on 83, taking a pass from Toñito on the left and flicking the ball past the oncoming Marcos; then Toñito played a short corner on the right to Carlos Martins who hit a first time cracker that flew in from way out.

The Leixões fans were allowed one moment of joy on the stroke of time when their best player Anchoet ran onto a Pedras chip and bundled the ball past Tiago in the Sporting goal. But it was scant consolation for them after a game in which they had been so comprehensivley outplayed.


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