Gonçalo Guedes scored his first goal of the season for Valencia on Sunday as Los Ches warmed up for their upcoming Europa League trip to Russia with an impressive 3-2 victory at Girona. Guedes was making just the eighth league start of an injury-hit season, but gave Valencia the lead in Catalonia.
Elsewhere, Nuno Espírito Santo’s Wolverhampton Wanderers once again took points on the road against the Premier League’s big boys, earning a 1-1 draw at Chelsea. There was also a big win for Jose Gomes and Reading in the Championship, while on the goals front Sérgio Oliveira, Daniel Podence, João Carvalho, Daniel Candeias and João Amaral were on the scoresheet.
Guedes smiling again
Portuguese forward Gonçalo Guedes has endured a frustrating 2018/19 season, having carried an abdominal injury for much of the opening stages of the campaign before undergoing surgery in December. The operation put Guedes on the side-lines for two months, meaning the 22-year-old was still searching for his first goal of the Liga season as Valencia travelled to Girona on Sunday.
With some critics taking aim at the former Benfica man’s form since his return from injury, Valencia boss Marcelino stepped in to defend Guedes during the week, telling reporters: “When a player returns from injury and things aren't working out as he would like, it's logical that they will be impatient. We have to look for it to be the opposite, and give him calm.
“He puts in the utmost effort and things will work out as they should for him. He has a lot of talent and a good attitude, and he's a straightforward person. With all of these values, it's a question of time. On a personal level this need to do well should not be converted into anxiety. We will try to make sure that doesn't happen and convince him that his best moments will come soon.”
Marcelino’s words clearly had the desired effect, with Guedes racing onto a throughball from ex-Benfica man Rodrigo and slotting Valencia into an early lead on 14 minutes at Girona. Guedes, who was deployed on the left side of a 4-4-2 formation, played 74 minutes before being replaced as Valencia were reduced to ten men and forced to close off the game with a 3-2 win.
Nuno proud as Wolves denied win
Nuno Espírito Santo admitted that his players were “sad” after a late goal denied Wolverhampton Wanderers victory against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Diogo Jota had set up Raul Jimenez to put Wolves ahead ten minutes into the second half, but Eden Hazard struck in the 92nd minute to salvage a point for Chelsea.
Rui Patrício, João Moutinho and Rúben Neves all started alongside Jota for Wolves, who continued their impressive record away from home against the top six. Nuno’s men have now held Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea to 1-1 draws, while beating Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 at Wembley in December.
“The result could be different, but we’ve had late goals also, so as a team we have to react and know it can happen to us – be focused in the last minute,” Nuno said. “The late goal was a lack of focus, which is normal after what the team did. Goals always come from situations where you’re not so effective. We’ll take a look, but I’m very proud.
“I’m happy with the performance of my team. It’s a tough team to defend against, it requires a lot of work, and the boys were very good today. They are sad because they know they did a fantastic job. They had it, but this is a growing process and we have to bounce back.”
Gomes delighted with Reading win as Silva’s Everton fold at Newcastle
For fellow English-based Portuguese bosses José Gomes and Marco Silva, it was a case of late comebacks with contrasting fortunes this weekend. While Gomes’ Reading came from behind to secure a memorable 3-2 win over Wigan Athletic in the Championship, Everton and Silva saw a 2-0 lead disappear before losing 3-2 at Newcastle.
“Inside the game, we had two different sides – the football, and the fight,” begun a thrilled Gomes after seeing his side score twice in the closing minutes to snatch the points. “As I said to my players at half-time, we have these two things to deal with – to win the football, we have to win the fight.
“I told them: ‘Only God knows the final result, but you will win the fight.’ And they did. So, they deserved the three points from the positive way that they played and the way that they tried.
“I am very happy and proud about the way that my players gave their energy to the game. Sometimes I didn’t like the way that we played, but I don’t know if it is possible to play a different way in these kinds of games.”
For Silva, frustration at seeing his – with André Gomes in midfield - lose a commanding position as two first-half goals had Everton 2-0 up with 25 minutes left to play at St James Park. Salomon Rondon’s strike and a double from Ayoze Perez (81’ and 84’) left the Toffees with nothing from the game.
A regretful Silva told reporters after the match: “When we spoke at half-time, I said to them, ‘We did well but the game is not finished yet, we have to keep doing the same’. In that first 15, 20 minutes of the second half, we must kill the game.
“It is a big frustration because I saw what we did [in the first 60 minutes], it was what we had planned in our strategy. After what we did in the first half and the first 15 minutes of the second half, we had the game in our hands. First, we have to blame ourselves and what we didn’t do in that moment.”
Birthday boy Carvalho stakes his claim
João Carvalho made a case for more minutes under Nottingham Forest manager Martin O’Neill with a crucial goal from off the bench in their 3-0 victory over Hull City in The Championship. The former Benfica man, who joined Forest in a club record €15m deal last summer, has barely featured since O’Neill took charge in January.
However, with the match goalless, Carvalho was introduced on 68 minutes against Hull, and the Portuguese responded by opening the scoring just a few minutes later on his 22nd birthday. Carvalho lashed home from outside the box, with his right-footed effort clipping the inside of the post on the way in to set Forest up for a 3-0 victory.
“The game was drifting and it needed that little spark and it was provided by João and it was a magnificent goal to win the game,” O’Neill said after the game. "Naturally, João's goal I am ecstatic about and he is too. That will give him a massive boost of confidence.”
Nani positive after full MLS debut
Portugal star Nani made his first full appearance for Orlando City in their MLS trip to Chicago Fire on Saturday afternoon. Nani laid on his team’s goal with a nicely weighted throughball for Dom Dwyer to put Orlando ahead, but the visitors were denied with what was almost the last touch of the game when Charles Sapong headed in the equaliser on 94 minutes.
“Obviously I’m not in my best physical condition, but it was good to start with the team,” Nani said. “I think it was a great performance from our team and the end was disappointing. But we have to take the positive things from the game and I think in the next games we will perform much better. We need to keep our confidence as we will be fine.”
Nani was not the only Portuguese to notch an assist in MLS this week, with Pedro Santos laying on the first goal for Columbus Crew in their 2-0 win at New England Revolution. The former Braga midfielder has been with Columbus since 2017 when he signed as a Designated Player at the Ohio outfit.
Ronaldo rested as Seleção stars struggle for minutes
Cristiano Ronaldo was given a rare rest this weekend by Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri, with the Serie A champions dispatching Udinese 4-1 at home on Friday night. The Juve boss has his eyes firmly on Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid, and Ronaldo has urged his side to fight to overturn their 2-0 deficit.
“I think the team is good, is confident, we believe - we have to do it with a special night,” Ronaldo said. “I want to say to the fans that on Tuesday night let’s think positive, let’s believe. It’s possible, but we need your help to make the stadium beautiful, everyone together. We’re going to do our job on the pitch, try to score goals and win the game, and we need your support. Get ready to comeback!”
Less positive about their lack of game time this weekend are some of Portugal’s young internationals. André Silva appears to be slipping out of favour at Sevilla, with the striker having been left out of coach Pablo Machin’s starting line-up for four of their last five matches. Silva came on for the final twenty minutes of Sevilla’s 5-2 win over Real Sociedad on Sunday.
Meanwhile in Germany, a familiar story for Renato Sanches and Bruma. Former Benfica man Sanches was given 16 minutes of champions Bayern Munich’s 6-0 win over Wolfsburg, representing his longest appearance of 2019. Meanwhile, Bruma was given a similar cameo as Leipzig were held 0-0 by Augsburg, with the winger only managing around 50 minutes of game time since the turn of the year.
Podence double in Greece; Sérgio Oliveira, Candeias on-target
Olympiakos kept their faint title hopes alive with an impressive 4-1 win over Aris in the Greek Super League on Sunday. Daniel Podence was a standout performer, with the ex-Sporting man bagging a brace for Pedro Martins’ side, which also included José Sa in goal and January arrival Roderick in defence.
The victory was an important one for Olympiakos fans, who were celebrating the 94th birthday of the club. “We knew it was an important day,” coach Martins said after the match. “We wanted the victory to bring joy to the fans and the club. We want to continue the club’s history with victories.”
The win for Olympiakos did not gain Martins’ side any ground in their pursuit of leaders PAOK, who maintained their 7-point advantage at the top of the Super League with a convincing 3-0 win over Atromitos. Vieirinha missed an early penalty for PAOK, but made amends by crossing for Porto loanee Sérgio Oliveira to break the deadlock with a header five minutes before half time, setting the hosts on their way to victory.
Daniel Candeias got the Portuguese scoring off to a fine start on Friday night by hitting a superb goal in Rangers’ 1-1 draw at Hibernian in the Scottish Premiership. The former Nacional winger dispatched a curling shot into the top corner with his left foot to give Rangers the lead, but Candeias’ men were pegged back in the second half and remain eight points behind leaders Celtic.
Elsewhere, João Amaral scored a late consolation for Lech Poznan in their 3-2 loss at Miedz Legnica in the Polish Ekstraklasa. The former Vitória Setúbal attacking midfielder has seven goals from just 17 starts in the Polish league since his arrival last summer.
Staying in Poland, Ricardo Sá Pinto’s Legia Warsaw battled to a hard-fought win in difficult conditions as second-half goals gave them a 2-1 win at Arka Gydnia. Sá Pinto used André Martins, Cafú, Iuri Mendeiros and Salvador Agra during the game, with Cafú assisting the first goal scored by Sandro Kulenovic.
“It was a tough game on a terrible pitch, it’s difficult to play in such conditions,” the former Sporting boss said after the match, having seen his side put pressure on leaders Lechia Gdansk, whose advantage is now 1 point ahead of their match on Monday. “We worked very hard today to create chances and we won deservedly,” Sá Pinto asserted.
José Morais has enjoyed a positive few days with new club Jeonbuk Motors in South Korea. Having won their opening group game in the Champions League on Wednesday with a 3-1 win over Beijing Guoan, Morais’ side followed up by hammering Suwon Bluewings 4-0 away from home in the Korean K1 League.
Pedro Caixinha’s Cruz Azul appear to be getting back on track after a difficult opening to the Liga MX Clausura in Mexico. Caixinha’s men now have back-to-back wins after beating Atlas 2-0 to move up to 10th place in the table. Rounding off a generally positive week for Portuguese bosses, Paulo Fonseca’s Shakhtar Donetsk thrashed Karpaty 5-0 in Ukraine, Vítor Pereira and Shanghai SIPG have two wins from two in the Chinese CSL after beating Jiangsu Suning 3-2, while in Saudi Arabia Rui Vitória’s Al Nassr came from 2-0 down to win 3-2 against Al Ittifaq.
Performer of the Week: Gonçalo Guedes (Valencia)
It is good to see the former Benfica man smiling again, having been the subject of scrutiny following his return from injury. Guedes appears to have the faith of his coach, so hopefully his goal at Girona is the platform for a positive end to the season.
By Sean Gillen