While many of Europe’s major leagues are yet to get underway, Portuguese players plying their trade across the continent are wasting little time in making their mark on the early stages of the new season.
Raphaël Guerreiro already has a trophy under his belt after he set up the second goal in Borussia Dortmund’s German Super Cup win over Bayern Munich. Meanwhile, there were goals for Portuguese in Belgium, Poland and Bulgaria, while typically mixed fortunes bestowed the Portuguese foreign-based contingent of bosses.
Last season’s German runners-up Dortmund laid down a marker ahead of the new Bundesliga season with a statement win over Bayern Munich in their home stadium Signal-Iduna Park. Over 81,000 spectators were on-hand to watch Raphaël Guerreiro’s hosts beat the champions, who started with Renato Sanches among their substitutes.
Dortmund were the more threatening side early on and Pace Alcacer had already gone close when Guerreiro saw his effort saved by Manuel Neuer in the 20th minute. The sides went into the break level with the score goalless but Spanish striker Alcacer broke the deadlock just minutes after the re-start with a well-placed shot from the edge of the penalty area.
Portugal international Guerreiro, who struggled with injury issues for periods of last season, had a hand in the decisive second goal midway through the half. Guerreiro’s well-judged pass set English wonderkid Jadon Sancho away to score with a brilliant individual piece of forward play, with the goal prompting Bayern coach Niko Kovac to introduce former Benfica midfielder Renato Sanches for the final twenty minutes.
The showpiece occasion took place two weeks before the start of the new German league season, which kicks off with Bayern entertaining Hertha Berlin while Dortmund host Augsburg. The German second tier is already at week 2 however, and Daniel Fernandes kept goal for Hamburg as they recorded a crushing 4-0 victory at Nurnberg, for whom Iuri Medeiros made his debut, on Monday evening.
Jesus defends goalkeeper after humbling defeat
Flamengo came into this weekend’s trip to Bahia in Brazil buoyed by their midweek comeback against Emelec in the Copa Libertadores. Jorge Jesus saw his side overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit to beat the Ecuadorians 2-0 in Rio de Janeiro and ultimately progress to the quarter finals after a penalty shootout.
The positive vibes soon disappeared in Bahia on Sunday afternoon, however, as a first-half hat-trick by Gilberto saw Jesus’ side blitzed early on in Salvador. The Portuguese coach was left frustrated by the nature of the goals, with questionable offside decisions surrounding the first goal and a dreadful miscued clearance from goalkeeper Diego Alves for the second.
“The story of the game is our physical conditioning, but it wasn’t everything,” Jesus said after the match. “We have played eight games in 25 days. We played with high intensity against Emelec, but today we have to credit Bahia for playing aggressively from the start. We failed to impose our game and made mistakes for three goals. All this, plus the lack of freshness, determined the outcome. I don’t blame individuals. Before Diego’s error there were other decisions that cannot be made.”
Portuguese bosses: Caixinha hammered in Mexico; Castro wins again in Ukraine Vitoria in ACL action
Pedro Caixinha suffered a similar fate to Jesus in Mexico as his Cruz Azul side endured a resounding 3-0 defeat to Queretaro on Saturday evening. Caixinha’s side went behind after 18 minutes and conceded twice in quick succession in the latter stages before having former Benfica winger Javier Rodriguez sent off, in a defeat that leaves Cruz Azul without a win from their opening three matches in the Liga MX Apertura.
“You must be self-critical, this was the worst result and performance since I have been Cruz Azul coach; I picked the team and I made the changes,” Caixinha told reporters after the match. “They beat us in every way, the football and the attitude. They were clearly very superior. We must stay calm; we trust this team a lot but today was very different to what they can do. The team knows the way forward and I take responsibility for this disastrous match,” concluded the Portuguese.
Better news in Ukraine as Luís Castro made it two wins from two at the start of the new Premier League season. Castro’s Shakhtar Donetsk beat Karpaty 3-0 to remain top of the table with six goals scored and just one conceded from their opening two matches, having won 3-1 at Oleksandria on the opening day in midweek.
Over to Asia and former Benfica boss Rui Vitória has been competing in the Asian Champions League last-16 knockout stage. The Portuguese coach is currently in charge of Al Nassr, whom he guided to the Saudi Arabian title last year, but a 1-1 draw in the first leg at home with Al Wahda of United Arab Emirates leaves Vitória far from sure of progress to the quarter finals.
Already in the last eight of the ACL is Vítor Pereira, who coaches Chinese champions Shanghai SIPG. The former Porto boss, who is preparing to meet Japan’s Urawa Reds in the tournament later this month, saw his side held 0-0 at home by Tianjin Tianhai in the CSL to drift six points off top spot in China. Meanwhile in South Korea, José Morais and Jeonbuk Motors drew 3-3 at Gangwon and also lost ground on the leaders, slipping four points behind Ulsan in the K League 1.
Goals: Rafael Lopes enjoying life in Poland
Portuguese forward Rafael Lopes is adapting quickly to his new surroundings following a summer move from Boavista to Cracovia Krakow in the Polish Ekstraklasa. The 28-year-old has now scored three goals in his opening five games for his new club, with the latest coming in Cracovia’s 3-1 win at Rakow Czestochowa this weekend.
Elsewhere in Poland, João Amaral got his name on the scoresheet to help Lech Poznan to a 2-1 win away against LKS Lodz, while veteran striker Flávio Paixão received the second red card of his Lechia Gdansk career for dissent from the substitutes bench late on in their 2-1 win over Wisla Plock.
Royal Antwerp have made sensational start to the new Belgian season with two wins and eight goals from their opening two matches. Sunday’s 4-1 victory over Beveren included a goal for former Benfica defender Aurélio Buta (pictured), who has been with the club for three years. Finally, Beroe defender Pedro Eugénio continues his impressive goalscoring form in Bulgaria with the opener in their 2-1 win over Dunav, making it six goals in ten league matches for the former Farense man.
By Sean Gillen