Bernardo shines, Guerreiro back with a bang!
FC Porto took a huge step towards the last 16 of the Champions League with a 3-1 win at Lokomotiv Moscow, but it was a disappointing European week for Lisbon clubs Benfica and Sporting, who both conceded late goals to fall to 1-0 defeats against Ajax and Arsenal respectively.
Elsewhere Portuguese players and coaches were making waves throughout Europe. Raphaël Guerreiro scored two goals as Borussia Dortmund produced the stand-out performance of the week by thrashing Atletico Madrid 4-0, and fellow Portugal internationals Bernardo Silva and Bruma were also on the mark. PortuGOAL rounds up all the action involving Portuguese clubs, players and coaches.
Benfica denied at the death
A clash between two of Europe’s most historical teams who have fallen down the modern football ladder proved a lively affair from start to finish on Tuesday night in Amsterdam, with Ajax beating Benfica 1-0 thanks to a 92nd-minute winner.
Fresh from their 3-2 win in Greece over AEK Athens to halt an awful run of defeats in the Champions League group stage, Benfica started extremely positively at the Johan Cruyff Arena with Rafa Silva forcing a sharp save out of Onana in the opening minutes, and Seferovic then fizzing a shot just over.
The hosts seemed taken aback by Benfica’s positive approach, but gradually began to create chances of their own in an open and entertaining contest. Benfica goalkeeper Vlachodimos made the first of a series of good saves to thwart Dolberg midway through the half, and the same player was again denied on the stroke of half time by a brilliant clearance by Conti off the goal-line.
After the break Ajax gradually pushed Benfica back, with the visitors increasingly retreating into their defensive third as the half wore on. Although Seferovic and Rafa again tested Onana, it was now time for Vlachodimos to again show what a fine acquisition he has been, the goalkeeper pulling off a series of stops including an outstanding save from a thumping Van de Beek effort.
Just as it seemed Benfica would hold out, an incessant wave of pressure ended with Moroccan defender Mazraoui at last beating the German goalkeeper, his rasping shot deflected by Grimaldo over Vlachodimos for a cruel end to the match for Benfica.
Porto make Lokomotiv pay the penalty
Sérgio Conceição’s team are handily placed in Group D at the halfway stage, sitting top of the section two points clear of Schalke 04 with two home games to come, after what could prove a vital 3-1 win in Moscow against Lokomotiv.
The Russian champions had the perfect chance to grab an early lead when Alex Telles conceded a penalty in the 10th minute, but Iker Casillas dived superbly to his right to deny Portugal international Manuel Fernandes. With one Portuguese player at the centre of the action in a missed a penalty, the Muscovites’ other Seleção player then conceded a spot kick, Eder hauling down Felipe from a corner. Moussa Marega made no mistake to give Porto the lead in the 26th minute.
The Dragons doubled their advantage ten minutes later thanks to a tremendous header from Herrera, but Lokomotiv hit straight back as a rare Militão error led to a goal by Miranchuk. Porto’s two-goal cushion was restored shortly after break through Corona, and the Portuguese champions then benefited from a stroke of luck as Eder’s goal – following up on a Manuel Fernandes shot that Casillas failed to hold – was wrongly disallowed for an alleged offside.
Having survived the scare, Porto controlled the rest of the match in relative comfort, especially after the Russians were reduced to ten men in the 76th minute when Kverkveliya was red-carded for a foul on Herrera, to leave the Dragons well placed to make progress in the competition.
Welbeck downs Sporting
Over 40,000 fans were at the José Alvalade stadium in Lisbon tonight to see Sporting host one of Europe’s most in-form teams, Arsenal, in a Europa League clash. Sporting coach José Peseiro selected a conservative line-up with defensive midfielders Petrovic, Battaglia and Gudelj all in the starting XI.
In the first half it appeared to be valid strategy as the hosts gave a good account of themselves in a tight 45 minutes with no clear-cut chances. Acuña was lively down the left flank, and Montero continued his excellent form by battling hard against the Arsenal defence despite a lack of support from his team-mates as Sporting committed few men forward. The Colombian striker appeared to by hauled to the ground by Sokratis as he threated to burst through on goal, but the referee waved away protests.
Post-match thoughts from Alvalade after Sporting 0-1 Arsenal. pic.twitter.com/CWFVr1rDcN— Tom Kundert (@PortuGoal1) October 25, 2018
The second half was a different story as Arsenal took a much more proactive approach and fashioned several clear chances. Renan Ribeiro made two excellent saves in quick succession to get the better of Aubameyang, but with the impressive Guendouzi continuing to orchestrate matters in the middle of the pitch is seemed just a matter of time before the Gunners broke the deadlock, with Sporting failing to get anything going at the other end of the pitch.
And so it proved as a Sebastien Coates slip let in Danny Welbeck, the England international finishing emphatically. There was no way back for Sporting and it will need a huge improvement if the Lions are to get anything from the return fixture in London in a fortnight.
Portuguese abroad Champions League round-up: Guerreiro brace; Bernardo on-target
Without doubt the most heart-warming story of the week in European competition for the Portuguese abroad was Raphaël Guerreiro scoring two goals after emerging as a substitute in Borussia Dortmund’s remarkable 4-0 win over Atletico Madrid on Wednesday evening.
Portugal left-back Guerreiro, so plagued by injuries of late, was called by Dortmund coach Lucien Favre just after the hour mark with the home side leading 1-0. Guerreiro was deployed in an attacking wide area and swept in Hachraf Hakimi’s pull-back to give the German leaders a two-goal advantage in the 73rd minute.
More was to come at Signal-Iduna-Park as English starlet Jadon Sancho made it 3-0 ten minutes later, with Hakimi getting a hat-trick of assists, before Guerreiro rounded off the scoring in the last minute of normal time by a cool finish following sloppy play from Atletico, who suffered the heaviest defeat of Diego Simeone’s tenure.
“Our substitutes just have quality,” said Dortmund boss Favre after the match, having seen his side take control of Group A with three wins from three. “They know what they have to do. Guerreiro enters the pitch as left midfielder and knows right away what he is supposed to do.”
A huge clash at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening saw Italian champions Juventus cruise to a surprisingly easy 1-0 win over José Mourinho’s Manchester United. Cristiano Ronaldo started for Juventus, as did the ever impressive João Cancelo, but it was Paulo Dybala who scored the winner from close range on 17 minutes.
After the match, Mourinho praised the experience and quality of the Juventus defence, as his United side struggled to create much in the way of chances. “Mr Bonucci and Mr Chiellini could give some Harvard University classes about how to be a central defender,” he said. “A team with everything - they have talent everywhere, all over the pitch. So it was a really difficult match for us.”
The result sees Juventus on 9 points from three matches in Group H, with the chance to win the group outright if the Italians can beat United in the return fixture in Turin in two weeks’ time. That would leave United battling for second place, presumably with Valencia who were without the injured Gonçalo Guedes and left Rúben Vezo on the bench as they were held 1-1 in Switzerland by Young Boys.
Also on Tuesday night, Bernardo Silva was on the scoresheet again, coming off the bench as Manchester City were in imperious form in a 3-0 win at Paulo Fonseca’s Shakhtar Donetsk. Silva came on with around twenty minutes left to play with his side 2-0 up, scoring within seconds to make it three goals in three games for club and country.
“Our goal is to try to win the next match,” said Shakhtar boss Fonseca. “It's hard to start counting right now. We need to move step by step, to think about each match at the right time and not to look too far into the future.”
Shakhtar are sitting in last place in Group F, three points behind second-place Lyon, after the French outfit, with Anthony Lopes in goal, shared six goals with Germans Hoffenheim in a 3-3 draw. Fonseca’s men face a daunting return fixture with City at the Etihad Stadium in two weeks.
Hard luck for Mário Rui in Paris
Napoli were denied a potentially priceless victory at Paris Saint-Germain by a stunning late strike from ex-Benfica man Angel Di Maria. The Italians impressed at the Parc Des Prince, twice leading on the night and holding a 2-1 advantage when Di Maria struck on 93 minutes. There had been some misfortune about PSG’s first equaliser too, with Portuguese full-back Mário Rui unlucky to divert the ball into his own net on the hour.
Nélson Semedo came on for the latter stages of Barcelona’s 2-0 victory over Inter in Group B, with the Italians without João Mário who was not included in their registered squad for the competition. Elsewhere, Renato Sanches watched from the bench as Bayern Munich won 2-0 at AEK Athens and Rony Lopes continues to be an absentee for Monaco, who are still looking for a post-Leonardo Jardim win after a 1-1 draw at Club Bruges.
Portuguese abroad Europa League round-up: Bruma scores; Martins back to winning ways
There will have been a sigh of relief for Olympiakos coach Pedro Martins after he watched his side end their recent poor form with a 2-0 victory over F91 Dudelange in Group F. Martins, who made his players stay at the training complex for much of the past few days, selected José Sa in goal and Daniel Podence in midfield for the match in Luxembourg.
The former Vitória Guimarães boss was made to wait for the goals, though, with Vassilis Torosidis putting Olympiakos ahead on 66 minutes before an own goal on 81 minutes clinched the win. The Greeks are in 3rd place in the group, four points adrift of leaders Real Betis who secured an impressive 2-1 victory at AC Milan with William Carvalho in midfield.
In Group B, Portugal winger Bruma scored his first goal for RB Leipzig since the qualifying rounds in July with the second as the Germans beat Celtic 2-0 at home. Bruma’s side are now second in the group, three points ahead of Celtic as they look forward to travelling to Glasgow for the return fixture next month.
Turkish club Besiktas appear to be in freefall after a 4-2 home loss to Belgians Genk, during which Ricardo Quaresma played the full game but Pepe was absent, left the Istanbul club in bottom place in Group I and without a win in four matches. Cypriots Apollon, with Bruno Vale in goal and João Pedro at right-back, lost 2-0 at Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany and sit bottom of Group H.
In Group J, Sevilla top the standings after picking Daniel Carriço but leaving out André Silva for their 6-0 victory over Akhisarspor of Turkey, for whom Miguel Lopes, Josué and Hélder Barbosa all featured. Daniel Candeias played 80 minutes of Scottish side Rangers’ 0-0 home draw with Spartak Moscow, while Luís Neto was in the Zenit Saint Petersburg backline during their 2-1 victory over Bordeaux in Group C.
By Sean Gillen & Tom Kundert