Sporting 8-0 Casa Pia
There is little sign of Sporting Clube de Portugal feeling the pressure atop the Primeira Liga.
Exuding confidence from the kick-off, the Lions responded to victories by Porto and Benfica earlier in the round by thrashing a fragile Casa Pia team 8-0 at Alvalade tonight to reclaim first place in the standings.
Sebastián Coates, Viktor Gyökeres and Francisco Trincão each hit braces, with Pedro Gonçalves and Geny Catamo also getting their names on the scoresheet.
Sporting have spent most of 2023/24 leading the table and came into the match seeking a sixth straight win the league. Nevertheless, with Benfica breathing down their necks and also showing excellent form, and Porto looking stronger than at any time this season, Rúben Amorim and his men know any slipup could prove crucial in the title race.
The match kicked off minutes after Benfica had dispatched Estrela da Amadora 4-1 to temporary usurp Sporting at the top of the table.
Easy pickings for Sporting
A historical thrashing ensued, with Sporting winning 8-0 for the first time in 50 years, but the Lisbon club will not be fooled by the ease with which they got the job done tonight. Casa Pia were dreadful. The defending especially was amateur level all night, with simple passes or schoolboy errors enough to see the visitors’ back line cave in time and again.
Captain Sebastián Coates got the ball rolling, Nuno Santos plopping a free kick in a dangerous position to the tallest man on the pitch who was left criminally unmarked for an easy header.
Inevitably, Viktor Gyökeres soon got in on the act, scoring twice in quick succession, the first a close-range finish from a Pote cross, the second from the penalty spot after he himself had been felled in the box. In between Pedro Gonçalves hit the net after running onto a Morten Hjulmand dink over the top of the Casa Pia defence and finishing with aplomb.
There was still time before the break for Francisco Trincão to score for the 4th Liga Portugal match running, putting the ball past Ricardo Batista with his weaker right foot. Half time and Sporting were winning 5-0.
Geny Catamo shines
The Lions took their foot off the pedal in the second half, but the goals kept coming. Right-back Geny Catamo, back from his participation at AFCON with Mozambique, replaced Ricardo Esgaio and took his opportunity to get straight back into the groove of domestic football.
The gifted 23-year-old scored arguably the goal of the night shortly after entering the fray, controlling a half-cleared corner and sending a left-footed curler into the net from 20 yards out.
Catamo then set up Coates for his second of the night after more enterprising attacking play.
Francisco Trincão is having his best run of form in a Sporting shirt, and the winger imitated Catamo by hitting another tremendous left-footer from 20 yards out in stoppage time to round off the scoring.
The result was the perfect antidote for Sporting fans to get over the disappointment of their Taça da Liga semi-final defeat last week. Scoring eight goals, even against poor opposition, can only boost confidence levels.
Tougher tests await
Amorim and his men now face three stern tests of their championship credentials, travelling to Famalicão and Moreirense and hosting Braga in between. Should they come out of those matches still top of the pile, Sporting will be well-placed to get the job done down the home straight.
By Tom Kundert at Alvalade