The new Liga NOS season continued this weekend and the goals continued to flow with 30 scored across 9 matches.

We saw the first draws of the fledgling campaign, but they were conducted in entertaining fashion, Aves and Tondela serving up a 2-2 to begin the round’s action before newly-promoted Santa Clara produced a big upset to hold Braga to a 3-3, from 3-0 down. Benfica, Porto and Sporting all continued their 100% starts although the latter pair were made to sweat against Belenenses and Vitória Setúbal respectively.

This week’s standout figure appeared in one of the aforementioned matches, and is no stranger to any followers of European football: Nani has returned for a third spell at Sporting and it was he who proved the difference on Saturday night, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win for the Lions.

Nani rejoined Sporting this summer for his third stint at the club, having spent 2014/15 on loan in Lisbon as well as of course rising through the youth ranks of the team before his high profile move to Manchester United in 2007. As such, there’s clearly a large emotional bond between the player and team, and despite now arguably being past his peak at 31 years old, his performance on Saturday night still showed a motivated individual who craves more success with his boyhood club.

The pace might not quite be quite as blistering any more but the speed of thought and sense of opportunism remains in his game, as evidenced by his opening goal after just 9 minutes. Vitória goalkeeper Cristiano and his defence all seemed to be expecting a cross from Nani after an exchange with Jefferson, but instead he tried an ambitious effort on goal that snuck in at the near post.

Vitória’s Zequinha equalised after a mixup in the Sporting defence to level the scores at the break. Wearing the captain’s armband, Nani drove the home side forward in the second half and almost scored a superb second goal, desperately unlucky to see his well struck free kick clip the top of the crossbar.

However, in the 66th minute Nani popped up to score Sporting’s second, which would ultimately secure them all three points. This time he met substitute Jovane Cabral’s cross with a bullet header to leave Cristiano no chance at all this time.

Sporting have flattered to deceive in their first two matches of the new season but have six points to show for it. Nani admitted during pre-season that he and the rest of the team felt that perhaps the competitive campaign had begun a little too quickly in terms of their physical conditioning so this looks to have been a factor but what is clear is that there is some spirit in this squad. This will be a vital component of their season, particularly with the regards to the considerable off field dramas affecting the club.

With a true Sporting hero leading them from the front, the Lions should be up there challenging for honours once again this season.

by Jamie Farr

 

Comments (6)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Nani is still crap.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Nick J, with respect, as a fellow Porto supporter.... you're just plain wrong.

Nani was key to our Euro 2016 trophy, and he was great when he was loaned to Sporting in 2014-15.
Maybe he never fulfilled his potential at Man U, but that's also...

Nick J, with respect, as a fellow Porto supporter.... you're just plain wrong.

Nani was key to our Euro 2016 trophy, and he was great when he was loaned to Sporting in 2014-15.
Maybe he never fulfilled his potential at Man U, but that's also because Man U has been a black hole for talent since 2013.

He was also excellent at Valencia over the last 2 seasons (not so much Lazio though).

But crap? Never.

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HI Chris
He was inconsistent at Man Utd, invisible at Lazio and no, he wasn't any good at Valencia (for the 1 season he was there, not 2) - he was terrible and they wanted rid quite quickly. I follow Valencia and saw them twice live when he was...

HI Chris
He was inconsistent at Man Utd, invisible at Lazio and no, he wasn't any good at Valencia (for the 1 season he was there, not 2) - he was terrible and they wanted rid quite quickly. I follow Valencia and saw them twice live when he was there. He slowed down the game, gave the ball away and generally had a poor attitude... However seeing him in Interviews he comes across as a decent guy but his inconsistency is maddening so no I don't particularly rate him. He isn't one of the first players I think of with the Euro 2016 win either!
I don't do tribalism but ultimately would you have him at Porto? I certainly wouldn't.

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He was good at Valencia, his decision-making was improved from his United days. Yes, he sucked at Lazio, and his biggest issue has been a lack of consistency. But when he is on, he is a Quaresma or even near-Ronaldo level of game changer.

But...

He was good at Valencia, his decision-making was improved from his United days. Yes, he sucked at Lazio, and his biggest issue has been a lack of consistency. But when he is on, he is a Quaresma or even near-Ronaldo level of game changer.

But being inconsistent is not enough to say he is "crap". He is a legend in the Seleccao and Sporting shirts. Would I want him at Porto? Yeah, how could I not? Just don't build the team around him and ease some of the pressure. But he is a Sporting lad through and through.

Cheers.

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Yeh I know his ..er.. "achievements" and it was a flippant comment but I stand by my views! And no, really, he wasn't any good at Valencia.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

LOL Nick. I know how you feel Nick, I think most Portugoalers felt this at one point and many still do.

I am like Chris though, after that Euro victory I have a new found respect for Nani. He was our best forward at the Euro. He scored very...

LOL Nick. I know how you feel Nick, I think most Portugoalers felt this at one point and many still do.

I am like Chris though, after that Euro victory I have a new found respect for Nani. He was our best forward at the Euro. He scored very important goals when we were down.

His decision making has improved dramatically and so has his finishing. Some players just take longer to mature and perhaps Nani is one of those. If you check his stats he is pretty consistent throughout. He had that incredible year at Man United (the year CR7 left) and was never able to replicate it for whatever reason.

He is still a world class talent and playing in the Portuguese league now with his massive resume is only good for Sporting and the league. Also, come on dude, both his goals for Sporting were fantastic. ? This all goes back to the lesson we learned from Quaresma and Eder.

Some players never reach what we expect or hope they do as fans. With time and perspective we will look back fondly on all of them I think. Love the passion though Nick! Keep the posts coming.

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