Week 18 of Liga NOS was largely business as usual as the top four remained as they were after all registered victories. While Benfica, Braga and Sporting continue to do their best to keep pressure in the title race, at the moment it appears Porto are unstoppable in their quest to retain the championship.
They were very comfortable in running out 4-1 winners against Chaves on Friday night, and PortuGOAL Figure of the Week Tiquinho Soares grabbed the headlines with a predatory hat-trick to keep Sérgio Conceição’s side rolling.
Brazilian striker Soares has been a successful signing for Porto ever since he transferred from Vitória Guimarães back in January 2017. Friday’s hat-trick puts him on 36 goals in 70 games for the Dragões, a very respectable record especially given the competition in attack he has had at times as well as a few injury issues.
Soares is very adept at holding the ball up and providing an effective target for Porto’s multitude of creative players. For quite a big physical figure he moves well too, and this as well as his excellent anticipation in front of goal was evident in his sharp display at Chaves.
The early exchanges saw Porto have a lot of the ball as expected, although Chaves threatened with a couple of half chances. The league leaders made the breakthrough in the 24th minute however, Moussa Marega’s flick on expertly read by Soares, who poked past António Filipe from close range.
Just before half time Soares doubled his and Porto’s advantage. Once again Marega was the architect, his pull back finding his Brazilian strike partner, who showed good movement to engineer the space for a simple tap in to an unguarded Chaves net.
Porto were cruising and made the game completely safe in the 2nd half. Soares wrapped up his hat-trick with another simple finish, but again he showed great mobility to take advantage of a static Chaves defence. This time he was in the right place to meet Jesús Corona’s ball across the six yard box for the easiest of goals.
Porto went on to complete a 4-1 triumph, maintaining their 4-point lead at the top of the league table.
Soares’ goals may have all ultimately been routine finishes for any striker but it was his terrific awareness and reading of the game, and in particular his understanding with strike partner Marega, that got him in the right positions to pounce.
Soares now sits on 13 goals for the campaign, an impressive figure when taking into account he missed close to 2 months of action due to injury at the beginning of the season. Porto are entering a crucial stretch of the season as they compete at the sharp end of all four major competitions, and the 28-year-old looks to be peaking in form at just the right time.
By Jamie Farr