PortuGOAL Figure of the Week: Nélson Luz shines bright for improving Vitória

The 2022/23 Liga Bwin season is now eleven rounds down after the latest batch of top flight matches. Benfica continue to set the pace at the top, thrashing Chaves to take advantage of Porto’s slip-up at Santa Clara. 

Braga also profited from the latter event, moving into second place after beating Gil Vicente. Surprise package Casa Pia returned to winning ways after a recent mini-blip, while Marítimo finally recorded a maiden victory for the campaign, overcoming a similarly struggling Paços Ferreira.

There are no struggles in sight currently for Vitória Guimarães however, who kept on rolling with a win over Famalicão. Winger Nélson Luz was their star on the night, the PortuGOAL Figure of the Week bagging twice to help his side into Primeira Liga’s top four.

Angolan international winger Nélson Conceição da Luz arrived on Portuguese shores back in September 2020, Vitória Guimarães signing him from 1° de Agosto in his native country. The then-22 year old arrived as a largely unknown quantity, joining up with Os Vimarenenses’ B team. 

Midway through the 2021/22 campaign, Luz graduated to feature far more often for the seniors, albeit mostly in peripheral substitute appearances. This season he looked set for a similar role, that was until a change in management that saw B team coach Moreno graduate to the top job. Luz’s prior working relationship with Moreno appears to be one of the biggest reasons for the Angolan becoming a far more regular presence in the XI of late, and indeed the club’s form has taken a far more positive turn during this period.

Equally effective on either flank, the left-footed Luz has faced stiff competition from other wingers at the club such as Rúben Lameiras, Mikey Johnston and Jota Silva, but the improving performances of the Angolan are making him a difficult prospect to shift in the team’s current best lineup.

The latest of his promising displays took place on Monday night as Vitória hosted Famalicão. The home side were six matches unbeaten going into the contest and played with that kind of confidence from the off, taking the lead through Johnston’s smart finish.

The first half was otherwise quiet but the game and Luz in particular exploded into attacking life in the space of eight second half minutes as Vitória would ultimately put the game behind their opponents. The Angola international was well-placed to meet wing-back Zé Carlos’ cut-back to calmly place a left footed effort inside Famalicão goalkeeper Luiz Júnior’s near post.

Moments later it was 3-0 as Luz struck once more. This time it was as a result of an incisive Vitória counter-attack, led by Dani Silva. The youngster fed Johnston, who in turn laid the ball on a plate for Luz to once more confidently strike home for his second goal of the evening.

A stern Famalicão fightback almost led to an embarrassing concession of points for Vitoria but they held on to continue their fine form, and move to fourth place in Liga Bwin in the process.

After a slow start Vitória are really beginning to warm up in Portugal now and a berth in the division’s top four is a fine reward for their improvement. When Luz has started they have only lost once domestically (a narrow stoppage time loss to rivals Braga), so the player looks to have been a lucky charm for his team and coach.

Monday’s display was a step in the right direction for the 24 year old too, adding goalscoring numbers to what have been promising performances in recent weeks. There could yet be plenty more to come from the Angolan attacker.

By Jamie Farr