This weekend sees Portuguese coaches again making the headlines as two of the country’s managerial exports look to make their marks during the early stages of their new ventures. For Jorge Jesus in Brazil, a turbulent experience with Flamengo continued as his team beat local rivals Botafogo 3-2 in a thrilling match, while Luís Castro got off to a frustrating start in Ukraine as Shakhtar Donetsk were beaten in the Super Cup.

Portuguese midfielder Pedro Santos was the star of the show for his side Columbus Crew this weekend in MLS, scoring twice in an impressive victory away at New York Red Bulls. Elsewhere on the goalscoring front, Ivo Rodrigues found the net in Belgium while Yazalde was on the scoresheet in Romania.

Jorge Jesus is still in the early stages as boss of Brazil’s most popular club, Flamengo, but for the former Braga, Benfica and Sporting coach these are vital moments in impressing his new employers. Sunday’s Rio de Janeiro derby with Botafogo is sandwiched by a Copa Libertadores knockout tie with Ecuadorians Emelec.

The first leg of South America’s premier club competition did not go to plan, with Flamengo going down 2-0 in Guayaquil last week. The defeat, after which Jesus was criticised for his in-game management, cranked up the pressure on the team ahead of the weekend derby with local rivals Botafogo at the Maracanã Stadium.

"If I cannot hunt with a dog, I hunt with a cat"

When Botafogo took an early lead on 14 minutes through Cicero, the 65-year-old coach found himself under pressure to rally his side. New signing Gerson responded with an equaliser on 35 minutes and Flamengo were ahead early in the second half (54’) through star striker Gabriel Barbosa. Diego Souza levelled things up at 2-2 for Botafogo but Bruno Henrique’s 74th-minute winner gave Jesus a timely boost ahead of the return leg with Emelec in Rio on Wednesday.

“We are playing every three days, there’s no recovery,” Jesus admitted after the game when asked about a troublesome injury list. “It’s the sixth game (in 17 days) and the players are on the edge. Every game I change three or four players. But I cannot change 11. Against Emelec I had to improvise, but then I have to answer for it. If I cannot hunt with a dog, I hunt with a cat. The return leg against Emelec? We believe very much in our heart, our soul and our desire to win.”

 

“Hard to accept” for Castro as Shakhtar lose Super Cup

Luís Castro’s Shakhtar Donetsk begin the defence of their Ukrainian title on Wednesday, and this weekend saw the curtain raised on the new season with the Super Cup. Shakhtar, who hired former Vitória de Guimarães boss Castro over the summer to replace Roma-bound Paulo Fonseca, were pitted against perennial rivals Dinamo Kiev in Odessa.

Castro’s side took the lead on the stroke of half time through Brazilian Alan Patrick, but two late goals from Burda (80’) and Harmash (83’) shocked the champions and gave Kiev the spoils. The sides have met in each of the last six Super Cups, with honours between the clubs split during that time. Fonseca’s Shakhtar lost last year’s edition 1-0 but went on to win the league and cup double.

Shakhtar coach Castro spoke in fascinating detail after the match about the tactical battle between the sides, but during his more basic overview of the game felt his team performed well on the day. “The opening 20 minutes of our performance were really good: we fully controlled the play and caused Dynamo a huge number of difficulties,” he said. “In the next 15 minutes, football was more balanced, with both sides having their chances. We also rounded off the first half competently and scored one just before the break.

“In the second half, we continued to control the play, knowing that Dynamo would try to restrain our attacks. However, we continued to create chances, having an advantage in terms of rapid attacks. And then came a three-minute period when the opponents netted one following a corner, plus one more goal after that. Nevertheless, Shakhtar showed greater consistency. Dynamo won the match. It's hard to accept it, but that's true.”

 

Santos winner gives Columbus victory

Columbus Crew boss Caleb Porter was full of praise for Pedro Santos after the Portuguese midfielder scored a brace in a memorable 3-2 victory away at New York Red Bulls. The result ended a 9-match streak without a win on the road for The Crew, who came from behind to take the points at Red Bull Arena.

Former Braga midfielder Santos came to the fore in the second half, with the teams having gone into the break level at 1-1. Santos put the away side 2-1 up within a minute after the restart, finishing off a swift counter attack with a well-taken finish using his left foot. Daniel Royer’s penalty levelled the scores at 2-2 not long after the hour mark to set up an intriguing final third of the match.

That set the scene for Santos, who scored his 7th league goal from just 21 matches when he fired home a loose ball from inside the penalty area. The win for The Crew follows last week’s 2-1 victory over Montreal Impact and sees the team finally finding form in what had previously been a disappointing season.

“He’s quietly putting together a career here," Porter said of his Portuguese star. "You look at his goal production, that’s a lot of goals he’s producing. He’s confident and he was really hungry today, and tough. I thought we fought hard today and our football showed, we were very clinical.”

There were also goals for Portuguese in Belgium and Romania this weekend. In Belgium, former Porto attacker Ivo Rodrigues scored as Antwerp, managed by former Sporting boss Laszlo Boloni, won 4-1 at AS Eupen. Meanwhile in Romania, ex-Rio Ave forward Yazalde scored in Hermannstadt’s 3-2 loss to Viitorul.

 

Medeiros must up his German

A curious story in Germany as Portuguese midfielder Iuri Medeiros was left out of Nurnberg’s 1-0 victory at Dynamo Dresden on the opening day of the Bundesliga 2 season. Medeiros, who arrived from Sporting earlier this month, was an unused substitute and coach Damir Canadi revealed his reasons for omitting the midfielder after the match.

"There is still a huge language barrier,” Canadi said. “He is a beautiful player and he trains well with the team, but I can only give him instructions through (Enrico) Valentini. We have to teach Yuri the basics of German, like left, right , back and forth, but he has to learn German as soon as possible.”

While Medeiros was not in action this weekend, in-demand Portuguese left-back Pedro Rebocho did start the season for Guingamp in France’s Ligue 2. The former Benfica full-back was expected to have moved club by now, but Rebocho took his place in Patrice Lair’s side for their 3-3 draw with Grenoble.

By Sean Gillen

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I’m certain we will be champions this season.”

Sérgio Conceição
(Porto coach defiant despite the Dragons dropping points at Belenenses SAD at the weekend) 

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