Gonçalo Paciência was roundly praised by his manager and teammates after the Portuguese forward scored his first goal for Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday in Germany. The former Porto man came off the bench to snatch a stoppage-time winner as Frankfurt beat Hoffenheim 3-2 in a thrilling match in the Bundesliga.
Elsewhere, Diogo Jota was the star man with a goal and assist in Wolverhampton Wanderers’ 2-0 win over Cardiff City in England, while Marco Silva’s Everton held fierce rivals Liverpool in the Merseyside derby. On the goals front, Iuri Medeiros struck for the first time in Poland for Ricardo Sá Pinto’s Legia Warsaw, while Bruno Alves scored at both ends in Parma’s 3-3 draw at Empoli in Serie A.
For Frankfurt striker Paciência, the winning goal against Hoffenheim represented reward for a season that has been dominated by a serious ACL injury. The 24-year-old picked up the injury in September, not long after moving to Germany from Porto for £3m in the summer, only making his gradual return with brief stoppage-time cameos in recent weeks.
Paciência was given ten minutes to make a difference on Saturday, and duly delivered. A turbulent match had seen hosts Frankfurt lead 1-0 before falling 2-1 behind ahead of Paciência being called on 80 minutes. Sebastien Haller levelled things up at 2-2 and then turned provider for Paciência, crossing for the Portuguese to head in at the far post for his first goal in the German top flight.
“Playing and scoring goals are always my aims, I’m very happy it worked out today and I want to thank the whole team for the confidence they showed in me while I was injured,” Paciência said after the final whistle. “Only a team like ours, with this character and this attitude, could’ve turned that game around.
“I’ll enjoy this evening and then tomorrow it’s back to work. We don’t want this journey to end. We now have a Europa League match [against Inter] between two great teams. We have an excellent fighting spirit and we leave everything out there.”
"He deserves this"
Frankfurt boss Adi Hutter was quick to pay tribute to his striker, telling the press: “It was a great Bundesliga game for the spectators. In the end it was a jubilant win, and I’m particularly pleased for Gonçalo Paciência. It’s great that he scored this goal after all the setbacks he’s had,” while sporting director Fredi Bobic added: “I’m pleased for Gonçalo Paciência, because he worked very hard when he was out injured, and he deserves this success.”
Teammates were also quick to share in Paciência’s joy, with goalkeeper Kevin Trapp saying: “We showed our character today. It was a classic six-pointer, so the win was massively important. Gonçalo deserved that because he’s worked extremely hard. His goal will do him, and us, a lot of good.”
Less significant this weekend in Germany was the contribution of Bruma and Renato Sanches, with both players continuing to struggle for minutes on the field. Bruma came on for the closing seconds of Leipzig’s 1-0 win at Nurnberg, meaning the winger has just over half an hour of match time in 2019, while Renato Sanches’ 10-minute cameo against Gladbach means the Bayern Munich midfielder has less than 25 minutes on the pitch since the turn of the year.
Silva praises fans after derby draw
Everton manager Marco Silva was keen to offer gratitude to the Goodison Park crowd after his side held fierce rivals Liverpool to a 0-0 draw to damage their opponents’ title challenge. Silva’s side earned plaudits for their character in the stalemate, and the Portuguese boss was keen to ensure credit went to the home crowd.
“It was a tough match like we expected but my first words are for our fans and the atmosphere they created – they were fantastic,” Silva said. “I want to say thank you to them. If we can repeat this kind of atmosphere then I am absolutely sure that 30 or 40 per cent of our work is done. I know today was a special match but the atmosphere was amazing. It was like playing with a 12th player.
“I know it may not be the same in the next home match because it is not a special match like the derby but it is important for me to tell them that if they can create 80 per cent of what we had here this afternoon in all the matches, we will be very close to winning them.”
The point represents a change in atmosphere at Everton, where Silva had seen growing scrutiny following a poor run of form. However, The Toffees beat Cardiff 3-0 in midweek, while the derby win was described as a "significant afternoon" in the Portuguese boss’ reign by local paper Liverpool Echo.
Jota inspires Wolves as Patrício given day off
Wolverhampton Wanderers recovered from a recent spell of three matches without a win in the Premier League by beating Cardiff 2-0 at Molineux. Diogo Jota was a key figure in the victory, scoring one and creating another as Nuno Espírito Santo’s men earned a deserved three points to maintain their 7th place in the table.
Nuno made several changes to his side, including opting to rest midfield duo João Moutinho and Rúben Neves to the bench, while Rui Patricio was removed from the squad having been an ever-present in the league so far this season. Patrício’s absence was explained ahead of the match, with Nuno stating that back-up John Rudy needed minutes ahead of retaining his place as Wolves’ cup goalkeeper against Manchester United in the FA Cup later this month.
The changes were perhaps a contributing factor to an uncertain start by the hosts, but Jota changed the game with the opening goal after 17 minutes. A wonderful move involving on-loan Benfica striker Raul Jimenez ended with Jota tucking the ball home for his 6th Premier League goal of the season.
Jota returned the favour two minutes later, setting up the Mexican to double the home side’s advantage. Wolves could have added further goals, with Rúben Vinagre among those going close, but for Nuno the nature of the first two goals was pleasing as his side maintained their impressive first season back in the Premier League.
“It’s what we want, sometimes it’s possible, sometimes it’s not, especially against Cardiff. We go man to man in situations and the best way to unlock them is to play one, two touch football.
“To recover the ball where we recovered the ball and take the right decisions to go forward was very good. We had many combinations, many situations, and two good combinations achieved the goals - I’m pleased.”
“This is Man Utd,” says Dalot after inspirational cameo
Diogo Dalot was a game-changing substitute in the second half as Manchester United came from behind to beat Southampton 3-2 at Old Trafford on Saturday. The Portuguese, who recently started against Crystal Palace on the right wing, was again introduced in an attacking role in place of the injured Alexis Sanchez as United trailed the Saints 1-0 in the second half.
Dalot had an immediate impact, with his slick footwork and cross picking out Marcus Rashford at the back post, but the England striker could not find the target. United were level a few minutes later, with Dalot involved in the build-up as Andreas Pereira scored a sensational long-range leveller, before Southampton drew level and Romelu Lukaku earned the points for the hosts with a late winner.
“This is Man United, when you’re 1-0 down we know the crowd always pushes for us and we wanted to win it,” said Dalot after the game. “I think the badge speaks for itself when we talk about comebacks, desire and attitude, and for us it was just another game that we gave everything in. It’s always a pleasure to play in this stadium and what a game to win with such a great comeback. It was unbelievable.”
On Pereira’s memorable equaliser, Dalot added: “It’s true that Andreas practices that shot. There are three or four of us who stick around at the end of the training sessions, me included, to practice.
“Who knows, maybe one day I can score a goal like that!”
Alves takes central role in Italian thriller
Bruno Alves scored one, created another and turned the ball into his own net late on as Parma and Empoli shared the spoils in a six-goal thriller in Italy. The veteran Portuguese defender looked to have given Parma all three points with a late winner, but his stoppage-time own goal gave Empoli a dramatic equaliser.
The teams appeared set to go into half time level at 1-1 when Alves helped put Parma ahead at the break, crossing for Luca Rigoni to convert at the back post to make it 2-1. Empoli drew level just before the hour mark thanks to Francesco Caputo’s penalty, before Alves became the central figure in the game.
The 37-year-old gave Parma the lead for the third time on 82 minutes, with his close-range finish awarded after consultation with VAR having initially been flagged offside. However, the unfortunate Alves would go on to divert Matias Silvestre’s late attempt past his goalkeeper Luigi Sepe in the first minute of added time.
Iuri Medeiros breaks Polish duct; Beto the penalty hero again
Ricardo Sá Pinto’s Legia Warsaw got back to winning ways in Poland after back-to-back defeats, and their 2-0 win over Miedz Legnica marked the arrival in the Ekstraklasa of Portuguese midfielder Iuri Medeiros.
The Portuguese, who arrived in Poland in January having spent the first half of the season with Italians Genoa, has been gradually adapting to his new surroundings in recent weeks with a role as a substitute. However, Sá Pinto issued the 24-year-old with his first start on Friday evening and Medeiros responded.
The Portuguese was a constant threat and scored his first goal for Legia with a beautifully-placed shot with his left foot just after the hour mark. “We played a good match,” Sá Pinto said after the match. “I can speak about my team in superlatives. The goal was to get three points and it worked. I hope that this win will allow my players to get back on the right track.”
In Turkey, there was a familiar story as experienced Portuguese goalkeeper Beto earned Goztepe a point by saving a last-gasp penalty in their 1-1 draw at Konyaspor. Beto, who has already built on his reputation for saving spot-kicks since arriving in Turkey from Sporting in 2017, stopped Nejc Skubic’s penalty deep into added time to save a point for his side in their battle with relegation.
Elsewhere, there was a red card for veteran Portuguese Filipe Teixeira in Romania with Steaua Bucharest. The former Portugal U21 international, now 38, who played for Paris Saint-Germain and West Bromwich Albion during his career, was sent off for a second yellow card attempted to stop a counter-attack in Steaua’s 2-2 draw at Voluntari.
On the goals front, former Maritimo midfielder Rúben Brigado scored for Beroe in their 4-1 defeat to Lokomotiv Plovdiv in Bulgaria, while Mathias Lage rounded off the scoring for French outfit Clermont in their 3-0 win at Gazelec Ajaccio, which leaves them six points off the promotion places in Ligue 2. Also in contention for the promotion playoffs are Troyes, coached by Rui Almeida, who won 2-0 at Auxerre and are three points off the top five.
Portuguese bosses: Cardoso sacked after Celta defeat, as Morais makes South Korean debut
Miguel Cardoso was relieved of his duties as Celta Vigo coach after their 1-0 loss to Eibar on Sunday. An 87th-minute goal from Sergi Enrich gave Eibar the victory and condemned Cardoso to his fate after less than four months in the job. More details on Cardoso’s sacking here.
Meanwhile, José Morais’ debut on the bench of South Korean side Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors ended with a 1-1 draw at home against Daegu on the opening day of the new K League 1 season. Jeonbuk won the title at a considerable distance last season, and Morais will be expected to lead his side to glory again having replaced Choi Kang-Hee, who left for Chinese football.
The Chinese CSL also got underway this week, and it was business as usual for defending champions Shanghai SIPG. Led by Vítor Pereira, the champions were 4-0 winners at Shanghai Shenhua, with all four goals coming in the second half. Ricardo Vaz Tê has signed for Chinese League One side Qingdao Huanghai, who begin their campaign for promotion next week.
In Qatar, there were resounding wins for Jesualdo Ferreira and Rui Faria at the top of the Stars League. Ferreira’s leaders Al-Sadd hammered Qatar SC 8-1, while Faria’s Al-Duhail were 6-0 winners over Al Ahli to remain four points off the top.
Finally, a much-needed win for Pedro Caixinha in Mexico to end a run of six matches without a victory. Having mocked suggestions that his future was in doubt earlier in the week, Caixinha may have feared the worst when he saw his side trail Necaxa for almost an hour on Saturday evening, but second-half goals from Milton Caraglio and Edgar Mendez gave the Portuguese boss a vital win.
By Sean Gillen