moment of the week


w/e 30/07/06

A clueless Benfica were already 0-2 down against eternal rivals Sporting in the Guadiana Tournament when Benfica's Greek midfielder Katsouranis, lunging to take the ball off Sporting's Carlos Martins on the halfway line, punted it over the head of 'keeper Moreira, off his line. A spectacular own goal.

w/e 23/04/06

At Penafiel, FC Porto clinched the Championship title with a 1-0 win (an Adriano penalty). With no fence at the ground, and woefully inadequate security measures, there was a pitch invasion just minutes before the 90 minutes were up. The match officials and most players made it to the tunnel before the wave of fans hit them ... but two Porto players did not escape: Adriano and Bosingwa were bundled to the ground and forcibly stripped of everything they had on except their underpants. They had to get kitted up again before they could come out and play the remaining minutes, after a 20 minute wait for things to calm down.

w/e 09/04/06

FC Porto visited Sporting in what was billed as 'The Title Match'; with both teams neck and neck at the top and with only four games remaining, whoever won would be in a very strong position to go all the way (FCP won 1-0 and went five points clear). Halway through the second half, Porto's talented but temperamental winger Ricardo Quaresma pushed the ball too far in front of him and Sporting defender Tonel slid in to clear. Quaresma followed through and deliberately stomped on Tonel's ankle. The referee didn't see it (or didn't want to see it), but Porto's coach Co Adriaanse did and took Quaresma off immediately, much to his disgust. He was subsequently banned for two matches based on video evidence. The moment illustrates the lack of professional maturity (Quaresma is 22) of one of Portugal's true talents, which will surely be a factor when Portugal coach Luíz Filiupe Scolari finalises his squad for Germany.

w/e 26/02/06

FC Porto were beaten at the Luz in an almost circus-like moment. Benfica's French winger Laurent Robert won a free-kick 35 metres out. The kick he took was a momentous thing: he kept it low and it must have swerved a good two metres. Vítor Baía had asked for just one man in the wall, but even so, he saw the ball very late, and although he dived to the left hand side of the goal, it cleared his feet and went in. It was Baía's 400th game for the club.

w/e 12/02/06

Benfica beat bottom club Penafiel, and well. Despite spirited resistance from the northern club, the Lisbon Grande dominated. But their thrid goal was something of a disgrace. During a Benfica attack, Sérgio Lomba was genuinely injured and lay prone on the edge of the Penafiel area. The ball went upfield, and with their backs to their stricken colleague, Penafiel didn't kick the ball out to allow for him to be treated. They lost the ball and Benfica swept forward again. Full-back Léo took the ball down the left and almost had to side step the horizontal Lomba before he crossed for a triumphant Nuno Gomes to crash the ball in from close range. Sportsmanship - where art thou?

w/e 27/11/05

FC Porto brought in a number of good reinforcements at the beginning of the season (Lucho Gonzalez, Lisandro Lopez, Jorginho, among others) and with those already at the club (Ricardo Quaresma, Benni McCarthy, Vítor Baía) great things were expected of them. New coach Co Adriaanse promised attacking football, and initially the team produced it. But caution has overtaken the man's idyllic vision, never better demonstrated than during Porto's Champions League home game with a highly accessible Rangers side in the week. Lisandro Lopez scored on the hour to put Porto in front, but instead of building on the advantage (it was after all a home game, and a win was crucial), Adriaanse's first reaction was to take off an attacking midfielder (Diego) and bring on a defender (the pedestrian Bruno Alves). Sure enough, twenty minutes later, Rangers were level through MacCormack from their only real chance of the game, and two vital points were lost, leaving the probability of qualification for the next phase hanging by a thread. Adriaanse has said that he wants to stay until at least 2008, and the Porto board appear to back him up. But increasingly, reflected in that one substituion, it's looking like the Dutchman is far from being the right man for the job.

w/e 13/11/05

There's been much talk in recent times of devising scientific ways to ensure that the truth of games is preserved, for example methods of ruling on whether players are truly offside, or whether the ball really has gone over the line for a goal. You didn't need electronic equipment, however, to see the ball going over the line after a Renato header in Sporting's home game against União de Leiria last weekend, with the Sporting 'keeper Ricardo palming the ball out of the goal; you could have driven a bus through the gap between ball and line. But the goal wasn't given, and Sporting went on to win 2-1.

w/e 06/11/05

When Hugo Almeida shaped to shoot at goal from a free-kick a good 35 metres out against Inter Milan, the chances of it finding (as it happened, empty) Row P behind the goal were odds on. But no, FC Porto's 1m90 striker kept it down and it screamed into the top left-hand corner. A glorious goal ... but sadly not enough to prevent Porto collapsing later to lose 1-2.

w/e 23/10/05

Capping an excellent performance by Benfica at Villarreal in the Champions League was a work of art by midfielder Manuel Fernandes. Nuno Gomes had flicked a ball inside for him, a good 25 metres from the goal. The young midfielder took the ball on his chest, and as it dropped, he dipped a smooth-as-silk volley over the head of 'keeper Viera, slightly off his line. Beautiful in its fluidity, breathtaking in its unexpectedness.

w/e 09/10/05

Twenty minutes into a lively Benfica v Vitória de Guimarães, a moment of pure beauty and excitement, in the blink of an eye, without the ball ever touching the ground. Vitória are pushing forward, Neca has the ball in the centre of the pitch, he spots Benachour near the right hand corner and chips a pass; Benachour cracks it first time, on the volley, back across the goal, where Targino meets it on the turn and volleys ... only for Moreira to get down to his right and push the ball away for a corner. Magnificent.

w/e 30/01/05

The moment of the week lasted 120 minutes plus - the classic clássico between Benfica and Sporting at the Luz, in front of 60,000, that saw Benfica go through to the quarter-finals of the Taça only after fourteen penalties had been taken, and after normal time had finished 2-2 and extra-time 1-1. It was a game of such breathtaking drama and incident that it threw all other games of recent seasons into the shade. A pearl of a game amidst what is so often inferior product.

w/e 16/01/05

Angolan striker Pedro Mantorras, widely regarded as the natural successor to Eusébio as Portugal's emblematic 'colonial' player, moved to Benfica three years ago from Alverca. Bursting with natural talent and energy, Mantorras quickly won over the hearts of Benfiquistas, but just as quickly succumbed to injury. His right knee went, and it has taken over two years for him to get over the various operations on it and the subsequent, not always successful, treatment. Just recently he has been included in Trapattoni's squads for games, but few thought he could come back from such physical pain and disappointment. Against Sporting, he came on as sub and looked lost. Against Boavista Saturday, he came on as sub a quarter of an hour from the end and within minutes ran through onto a pinpoint pass from Simão and clipped it perfectly back across the goal and past a helpless Carlos for his first goal in 2 and a half years. The stadium erupted, the Benfica bench went wild, Mantorras did his wobbly limbs celebration ... the moment of the week.

w/e 17/12/04

FC Porto were held to 0-0 after 120 minutes by the Colombian Once Caldas in the Intercontinental Cup in Yokohama, Japan. Once had flagrantly been playing for penalties from the kick-off, and so they must have been confident that their ´keeper Henao would be able to keep out one or more Porto penalties. It didn't happen - it appeared that Porto had been practising their penalties too. And then came the decisive moment. Central defender Pedro Emanuel, not always a first-team choice after his move from Boavista two seasons ago, stepped up to the spot. The TV camera behind the goal caught him as he steeled himself - it was a classic close-up shot, the eyes, pure determination, boring past Henao, who must have been quivering in his boots, and into the net ... which is where the ball went, and Porto had won the last ever Intercontinenetal Cup.

w/e 14/11/04

In the week preceding the Sporting v Boavista SuperLiga clash, Sporting had some tough bones to chew internally: there was the flagrant disrespect shown to coach José Peseiro by Brazilian midfielder Rochemback when he was substituted against FC Porto, and there was the slightly pathetic picture of 'keeper Ricardo claiming and reclaiming a (blatantly non-existent) foul by Porto's Jorge Costa before Porto's first goal in their win over the Lions. Boavista coach Jaime Pacheco had a go at rattling an already psychologically fragile Sporting prior to Sunday's game by calling upon Brazilian striker Liedson, renowned for a tendency to act like a house of cards when circumstances suit him, i.e. in the penalty area, to refrain from falling over for the sake of it. When Liedson scored the (legal) penultimate goal in Sporting's 6-1 annihalation of Boavista (their worst league defeat for 21 years), he ran away from the goal and promptly crumpled to the ground, got up, ran a bit further and crumpled to the ground again, mouthing a sarcastic claim for a penalty.

w/e 17/10/04

On 79 minutes of the Benfica v FC Porto clássico, the Benfica midfielder Petit cracked a shot goalwards from 30 metres. FC Porto 'keeper Vítor Baía, perhaps over-confidently, grabbed at the ball but it slipped out of his hands and squirmed towards the net. With admirable agility, Baía whipped around, dived and scooped the ball out from beyond the line. 60,000 Benfiquistas knew that the ball had gone in, and after some consideration and replays, so did the commentators and pundits. Not so the referee, Olegário Benquerença and the relevant linesman, who, in their defence, were not at the time in line with the goal-line and did not have the benefit of slo-mo. FC Porto went on to win the game 1-0. The phantom 'goal' may well come back to haunt the referee, and the scandal will be tremendous, if the two clubs are neck-and-neck for the title come the end of the season.

w/e 07/05/04

The moment of the week could be extended over 90-plus minutes as FC Porto strutted their stuff against a strangely accessible Coruña, but to reduce it to a moment ... Brazilian Derlei, the Ninja, walked up to take the penalty kick that would give Porto the goal they needed. Derlei had been out of action for a good few months through injury, was a surprise inclusion in the starting line-up, and might have been excused nerves at that crucial moment. But despite the gamesmanship of 'keeper Molina (bringing the ball to Derlei at the spot and hanging around for Derlei to place it), Derlei kept his infinite cool and put the ball exactly where Molina couldn't get at it.And then thanked God for His help.

w/e 30/04/04

It seemed like literally a long shot, so when Sweden's Kallstrom stepped up to take the free-kick from a good 30 metres in the 16th minute of the friendly against Portugal (2-2), his intentions must surely have been merely speculative. He could not have wished for a better response from curiously out-of-form goalkeeper Ricardo : as the ball swung in low towards the Sporting 'keeper, he appeared to duck out of the way and the ball flew off his shoulder and into the roof of the net. His face, as he looked round at the billowing net, was a picture of despair. It was embarrassing for him ... but augurs no good for the Selecção ahead of the summer.

w/e 18/01/04

The wild-man of Benfica, Brazilian central defender Argel, has been second choice under Camacho, and it seems his contract will not be renewed at the end of the season. He headed the team's second goal in their 3-2 win over Boavista at the weekend, and his celebration involved rushing to the bench and sitting emphatically down on it, as if ironically to say "according to you, coach, this is where I belong". He spent the whole week vehemently denying that he had meant anything bad by the gesture.

w/e 26/10/03

Benfica inaugurated their magnificent new Luz Stadium in front of 65,000 faithfuls. The game scheduled for the event (Nacional of Montevideo, 2-1) was preceded by all sorts of, frankly, hamfisted 'entertainments' and fabricated symbolism, but the moment of the whole evening was when the tannoy man asked the crowd to be silent for a few seconds, they were and an eagle swooped magestically as straight as a die from one end of the pitch to the other. A moment of simple beauty that put the rest of the evening's (undoubtedly very expensive) show at the Luz in the shade.

w/e 05/10/03

Benfica's resident damp squib, the Brazilian midfielder Roger, has been two seasons at the Luz trying, and generally failing, to prove he's not a waste of space. But on Saturday he scored a goal of such nonchalant brilliance that it may well raise him to semi-legendary status at the club on the strength of it alone. Benfica were coasting to a comfortable win over Moreirense when, in the dying minutes, Ricardo Rocha touched the ball inside to the Brazilian on the edge of the box. Roger jinked the ball up with his right foot and in one smooth movement swivelled and volleyed with his left, the ball dipping perfectly over the desperate grasp of ´keeper Nuno Claro. Goal of the season already after only seven games.

w/e 21/09/03

In the pre-season, Benfica experienced a slight storm internally when winger Simão Sabrosa, captain last season, was voted out by his changing-room peers and central defender Hélder was voted in as new captain. Simão got into a very public strop and would not accept the vice-captaincy ... A couple of months later, during Sunday's clássico between arch rivals FC Porto and Benfica at the Antas (2-0), Simão at one point had to go over to take a corner, and the missiles rained down on him from a section of the Porto fans. At first glance one feared for his safety ... until a camera close up revealed that the missiles were in fact ... dozens of captain's arm bands ...

w/e 14/09/03

Portuguese goalkeeping legend Vítor Damas ("the Eusébio of Sporting") died, and there were the statutory minute silences observed (respectfully for once) before Superliga and Liga de Honra games ... except at Alvalade XXI before Sporting's game with Nacional where 30,000 applauded for the whole minute ("so long yet so brief" - Columnist Miguel Sousa Tavares, A Bola).



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