A potentially pivotal week in the title race saw Sporting take advantage of Porto and Benfica dropping points away from home.
The standout individual on display though was Brazilian striker Fabrício, who scored a hat-trick for Portimonense in their hugely impressive 4-1 win over Rio Ave, proving there is more to the Algarve club than the much trumpeted Brazilian and Japanese stars Paulinho and Nakajima.
Fabrício dos Santos Messias is PortuGOAL’s Figure of the Week.
Vítor Oliveira’s side have been a quiet force in securing midtable security this season, largely down to their stars Shoya Nakajima and Paulinho (now of Porto), but 27-year-old Fabrício, who has flown under the radar a little bit, deservedly grabbed the headlines this week.
Leading the attack through the middle, Fabrício has been the perfect foil for Nakajima in particular. The pair have linked up to brilliant effect throughout the campaign and now have 17 Liga NOS goals between them. They showed a near telepathic understanding at times against a previously hard to beat Rio Ave, who simply had no answer to Portimonense’s direct approach.
In just the 3rd minute Fabrício was off the mark, finishing off a move he started as he exchanged passes with Nakajima to ultimately tap into an empty net at the second attempt after Rio Ave goalkeeper Rui Vieira had blocked his initial effort.
If the goal did look a bit ugly in the end his second strike was anything but. Portimonense’s early dominance of the game was accurately reflected as they took a 2-0 lead in the 15th minute, Fabrício doubling his tally with a sensational strike from distance, leaving Vieira with no chance whatsoever.
Fabrício then returned the favour for his Japanese team-mate, turning provider for Nakajima to hammer in a third goal for Portimonense with only 29 minutes played.
Pelé pulled a goal back for Rio Ave early in the second half but Fabrício had the final say, capping his perfect evening by completing his hat-trick from the penalty spot in stoppage time.
It was a much-needed win for Portimonense, moving them up to 11th place in the league table. Fabrício has been one of the Algarve side’s longer serving players having represented them since 2011 (with loan spells in Asia with Hangzhou Greentown and Kashima Antlers in between) but 2017/18 has represented his first experience of the Portuguese top flight.
He has looked a natural in the division, and Portimonense will need him to maintain this kind of form after losing one of their chief creative threats in Paulinho to Porto recently. Left-back Lumor also departed the club on deadline day but crucially Nakajima has remained on the south coast amid strong speculation of a move to Porto or Sporting. As such, Portimonense are set to remain one of the more exciting sides in Liga NOS for fans to keep their eyes on.
by Jamie Farr