Record-breaking champions Sporting clock up another win in Estoril

Sporting beat Estoril 1-0 thanks to a late goal from substitute Paulinho after the hosts had put up a good fight and restricted the newly crowned champions of Portugal to far fewer chances than they have been used to this season.

Although not at their best, Rúben Amorim’s men found a way to win again, in so doing breaking two club records. The victory set a new landmark for the most number of victories in a Primeira Liga season (28) and most number of points accumulated in a single campaign (87), with a home match against Chaves next weekend to come to try and extend the new records. 

Estoril received a boost before kick-off with Portimonense’s draw against Rio Ave confirming that the club from the Lisbon coast have avoided relegation and will compete again in the top flight next year.

And the Canarinhos once again showed that at their Estádio António Coimbra da Mota home they are a match for the best teams in Portugal. This season Benfica were fortunate to escape from the venue with a 1-0 victory, and Estoril also beat Porto twice at home in 2023/24, in the Taça da Liga and in the league game.

Estoril defend strong home record

Vasco Seabra’s side have impressed with an array of exciting young talents such as Rodrigo Gomes, João Marques, Matheus Fernandes (the Sporting loanee unable to play tonight against his parent club) and Tiago Araújo, with French maestro Rafik Guitane pulling the strings for an attack-minded team, but Estoril showed different qualities against a Sporting team that have swept all before them over the last few months.

The home team defended aggressively and astutely, with Pedro Álvaro doing a particularly good job in a fiery individual battle against the Liga’s top scorer Viktor Gyökeres, keeping the visitors to a smattering of half chances in the first half.

Indeed, it was Estoril who were first to threaten. For Sporting 3rd-choice goalkeeper Diogo Pinto made his debut in the wake of injuries to António Adán and Franco Israel, and the 19-year-old almost had a nightmare start, rushing out of his goal and sliding rashly at the feet of Cassiano, upending the big striker and somewhat fortunate neither the referee nor VAR thought it worthy of a penalty.

Rodrigo Gomes hits the woodwork

The young stopper settled after that early scare and made a solid debut, aided by another strong defensive performance from Sporting. That said, after a first 45 minutes of few chances, Estoril were a whisker away from scoring on the stroke of half time, Rodrigo Gomes latching onto a lovely pass from Guitane and smashing an angled shot against the post.

In the second half Sporting at last started to create danger, especially after the introductions of Nuno Santos and Paulinho for Matheus Reis and Daniel Bragança shortly before the hour.

Ricardo Esgaio, Gyökeres, Ousmane Diomande and Francisco Trincão all forced Estoril goalkeeper Marcelo Carné into sharp saves. Sporting were getting closer and closer and finally found the breakthrough in the 81st minute with a fine team goal. 

Super-sub Paulinho strikes again

Pote released Gyökeres, the Swede racing towards goal and slipping a well-timed pass to the overlapping Nuno Santos, whose cross found its way to Paulinho, the striker’s shot from close range nestling in the back of the net with Gomes’ attempted clearance unable to keep it out.

Paulinho almost doubled the lead soon afterwards but that would have been harsh on Estoril.

The final whistle triggered a festive atmosphere all around the stadium with the Sporting fans continuing their title-winning celebrations alongside the players, and the home fans also leaving the stadium happy having ensured their top-flight status.

by Tom Kundert

Estoril Praia: Marcelo Carné, Pedro Álvaro (Eliaquim Mangala, 79’), João Basso, Bernardo Vital (Raúl Parra, 85’), Rodrigo Gomes, Michel Costa (Fabrício Garcia, 68’), Vinícius Zanocelo, Wagner Pina (João Carlos, 85’), Rafik Guitane, Cassiano (Alejandro Marqués, 68’), João Marques

Sporting: Diogo Pinto, Ousmane Diomande, Sebastián Coates, Gonçalo Inácio, Ricardo Esgaio (Iván Fresneda, 89), Daniel Bragança (Paulinho, 57’), Hidemasa Morita (Koba Koindredi, 91’), Matheus Reis (Nuno Santos, 57’), Francisco Trincão, Viktor Gyökeres, Pedro Gonçalves (Miguel Menino, 89’)

Goals:

[0-1] Paulinho, 81’