Gelson Martins continued his outstanding start to life with Monaco by scoring his first goal for the club and having a hand in another in their 2-2 draw with Montpellier this weekend. However, it was ultimately a frustrating afternoon for Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim, who was sent to the stands as his side conceded a late penalty to drop two points in their battle against relegation.

Meanwhile, young sensation Rafael Leão’s goalscoring trail continued as Lille notched another victory in Ligue 1 with a 2-0 win at Guingamp. There were also goals this weekend for Raphaël Guerreiro and Cristiano Ronaldo in Germany and Italy, while Vieirinha scored for PAOK to earn them a potentially vital three points in their title-battle clash with Pedro Martins' Olympiakos, and Flávio Paixão scored the winning goal for leaders Lechia Gdansk as the Polish Ekstraklasa returned to action.

Gelson opens his account, but Jardim left frustrated

Former Sporting forward Gelson Martins has enjoyed a stunning impact with Monaco since joining on-loan from Atletico Madrid last month. The 23-year-old had been involved in all four of his team’s goals during his first two matches at the club, and it took Gelson less than fifteen minutes of Sunday’s trip to Montpellier to score his first goal for Leonardo Jardim’s side.

Gelson connected with Fode Ballo’s left-wing delivery to convert using an improvised cushioned volley to put Jardim’s men ahead, with the goal seeing Monaco lead 1-0 at the break. Montpellier levelled through Gaetan Laborde on 66 minutes, after which Jardim was sent to the stands as he bemoaned a tackle on Russian Aleksandr Golovin who was being treated on the side-lines at the time of the goal.

Despite Jardim’s dismissal, Monaco got what they thought was an 82-minute winner through Radamel Falcao after Gelson’s effort was parried by Benjamin Lecomte. However, a high boot challenge from Kamil Glik gave away a stoppage-time penalty from which Montpellier’s Andy Delort squared the match up once more, after which Monaco’s Jemerson was sent off for a second yellow card.

“We did not manage to take the three points, but we had a good match,” Jardim said, before addressing the officiating. “There were certain things. I had an injured player (Golovin) off the field. He may be out for several weeks and there was not even a yellow card. However, Jemerson was sent off when he played the ball.

“I'm sent off too, maybe because I've moved one or two meters out of my technical area? I have never been expelled in my career. It's a little too much. You have to respect AS Monaco. Aside from that, I am very happy with the attitude of the team, the commitment. We must continue to push like that.”

Adrien Silva replaced Golovin after Montpellier’s equaliser for his second appearance for the club. Rony Lopes played 92 minutes before being substituted in stoppage time, and Lopes appeared to agree with his manager, telling reporters that the result was “frustrating” and suggesting that the “refereeing was not at a good level.”

Leão goals keep coming, as Lopes bemoans Lyon defeat

Lille opened up a six-point gap between them and Lyon in the hunt for 2nd place in Ligue 1 with a 2-0 win at struggling Guingamp. Rafael Leão was a constant threat for Lille throughout and scored the opener just after half time, sweeping in from inside the area for his sixth goal in his last seven league matches. José Fonte and Xeca also played for Christophe Gaultier’s side.

Lille were able to extend their lead over 3rd place Lyon after their rivals for runners-up lost 1-0 at Nice. Portuguese goalkeeper Anthony Lopes was between the posts for Lyon and was far from happy with the showing. “We lacked aggressiveness and killer instinct in front of goal,” he said. “It was not a lack of motivation, we remain in a positive moment, but this game we were missing things. We leave very frustrated.”

Ronaldo, Guerreiro on target

João Cancelo said that Cristiano Ronaldo “trains and plays like he’s my age” during the build-up to Juventus’ trip to Sassuolo in Serie A this weekend, and Ronaldo celebrated his first match since turning 34 with one goal and a hand in both the others as the champions ran out 3-0 winners with a clinical display.

Ronaldo played a key role in the opening goal when his rasping shot from just inside the area was parried into the path of Sami Khedira who scored midway through the first half. Juventus led 1-0 for much of the game, during which both sides missed good chances, until Ronaldo added the second with a header from a corner on 70 minutes. Cancelo watched from the Juve bench as the champions made it 3-0 on 86 minutes through Emre Can, who was found by Ronaldo.

In Germany, Raphaël Guerreiro scored on what looked a comfortable afternoon for Borussia Dortmund, but the Bundesliga leaders were stunned by a late comeback from Hoffenheim to draw 3-3 on Saturday afternoon. Guerreiro put his side 3-0 up on 67 minutes from close range following a typically slick Dortmund move, but the visitors scored three times in the final 15 minutes to cost the hosts two precious points in the title race.

Martins honest after Olympiakos beaten by Vieirinha’s PAOK

This Sunday saw a crucial match in the Greek Super League as top two PAOK and Olympiakos met in Salonika. Table-toppers PAOK hosted Pedro Martins’ Olympiakos at the Toumbas Stadium holding a six-point advantage at the top of the table, therefore knowing that a win would take them 9 points clear and a huge step towards the title.

PAOK duly delivered, running out 3-1 winners in a match heavy with Portuguese involvement. The hosts had experienced midfielder Vieirinha in the starting line-up, while former Guimarães boss Martins fielded José Sa in goal and Daniel Podence in his side as Olympiakos arrived looking for a positive result to stay in the hunt.

Vieirinha opened the scoring for PAOK after less than three minutes, cutting in from the left and firing off a right-footed shot which deflected off Olympiakos' Vassilis Torosidis and beat Sa despite the Portuguese goalkeeper getting a hand to the ball. PAOK made it two after twenty minutes through Dutchman Diego Bisewar, who scored from close range.

The score remained 2-0 until the latter stages, by which time PAOK had introduced newly recruited midfielder Sérgio Oliveira and Olympiakos boss Martins brought on recent addition Gil Dias. PAOK ended the match as a contest with the third goal on 82 minutes, catching Olympiakos on the break and scoring through Englishman Chuba Akpom’s cool finish.

The match ended as it started, with a Portuguese goal scorer, this time Podence scoring a consolation from close-range after Dias’ shot had been saved. Naturally the goal did little to console coach Pedro Martins, who was brutally honest in his assessment of his team’s performance in what was the biggest match of their season.

“Assessing today, we will say that any strategy we had planned for the match ended in the 3rd minute,” Martins said. “In the first half we did not react. In the second, we had the opportunity to get into the game. But we were passive, we had no energy and we can say it was the worst match of the year for our team. 

“We did not play as we should in general. We did not have the level we should have. We were passive. The energy level was in contrast to PAOK’s, which was very strong. We lost many first balls and second balls. We were not effective in any of our actions. The responsibility is 100% ours. We must admit our responsibility. It is our fault. I take it.”

Business as usual for Flávio Paixão in Poland

The Polish Ekstraklasa resumed this week after a 7-week winter break, and it was straight back to business for the league’s leading goal scorer Flávio Paixão. The veteran striker has been inspirational this season for surprise table-topper Lechia Gdansk, with the 34-year-old scoring 12 goals from 20 matches before the break.

Lechia returned to action on Saturday at home to Pogon Szczecin, with Portuguese on both sides as former Porto midfielder Tomas Podstowki turned out for the visitors. Lechia ran out 2-1 winners, with Paixão scoring the decisive goal fifteen minutes from time with the game square at 1-1. Paixão headed in Daniel Lukasik’s free-kick to give Lechia the points and put himself on 13 league goals, already greatly exceeding the 10 he scored in each of the previous two seasons.

Ricardo Sá Pinto’s Legia Warsaw kept up pace with the leaders thanks to a 1-0 win at Wisla Plock. Former Sporting boss Sá Pinto selected André Martins and Cafú in his starting line-up, before later bringing on Portuguese duo Salvador Agra and Iuri Mendeiros for club debuts following their arrivals during the winter transfer window.

England: Silva feeling the heat as Dalot gets United runout

Everton boss Marco Silva is feeling the pressure of growing scrutiny after his Toffees side were beaten 1-0 at his former club Watford on Saturday. Silva selected André Gomes in midfield, substituting the on-loan Barcelona man on 63 minutes, just moments before Watford would score their winning goal through Andre Gray.

The result means Everton have lost five of their last six games, yet despite the slump Silva’s men occupy 9th place in the Premier League. With 17 days until their next fixture away at Cardiff, the Portuguese boss revealed he plans to allow some players a break. “Next week I will give some rest to the players," he said. "It was tough and not normal, again, because we didn't expect this City match in the middle of the (last) week.

"We will give some days to our players and they come back and then let's see what I decide to do in the second week before the Cardiff match."

Also in the Premier League, there was a chance for youngster Diogo Dalot to impress as Manchester United warmed up for their midweek Champions League clash with PSG by cruising to a 3-0 win at Fulham. The summer signing from Porto had a solid match as the Red Devils moved into the top four places.

Elsewhere, Bernardo Silva played the full ninety minutes for champions Manchester City in their impressive 6-0 hammering of Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium, while Ricardo Pereira notched an assist for Leicester in their 3-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.

Debut goal for Vidigal in Cyprus; Guedes returns

Portuguese youngster André Vidigal came off the bench to score on his debut for Cypriot champions APOEL on Sunday. The 20-year-old former Académica striker arrived in Nicosia from Dutch Eredivisie side Fortuna Sittard at the end of last month’s transfer window, and Vidigal emerged from the bench on 82 minutes, scoring just five minutes later in a 2-0 win at Enosis.

Finally, a welcome return to action for Valencia’s Gonçalo Guedes in Spain after two months out with injury. The former Benfica attacker underwent surgery in December for a long-standing abdominal problem but made his return on Sunday for the final 15 minutes of Valencia’s 0-0 draw with Real Sociedad in La Liga.

By Sean Gillen

Comments (4)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Rafael LEÃO living proof that Sporting
still has the best youth academy in Portugal.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Do you think Leao deserves a call up for the March qualifiers?

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

@Daniel

No kidding. It’s a no-brainer that Rafael LEÃO should be called up to the qualifiers and the uefa nations league.

The only thing holding him back, is the fact that he doesnt have the benfica press behind him pushing for his call-up like...

@Daniel

No kidding. It’s a no-brainer that Rafael LEÃO should be called up to the qualifiers and the uefa nations league.

The only thing holding him back, is the fact that he doesnt have the benfica press behind him pushing for his call-up like they do with all of their youth products.

Rafael leao is the future zlatan ibrahimovic

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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Rafael LEÃO living proof that Sporting
still has the worst talent assessment and constantly undersell or let their stars go for nothing, in Portugal.

(Fixed it Z)

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