João Félix made his long-awaited competitive debut for Atletico Madrid on Sunday evening in La Liga, and the 19-year-old ensured his first Spanish match left an impression with a memorable moment in front of his new fans. Atletico beat Getafe 1-0 in the capital and Félix played for a little over an hour before being removed by Diego Simeone as a precaution.
Elsewhere, Jorge Jesus and Flamengo are edging towards overthrowing the leaders in Brazil following a 4-1 derby win over Vasco da Gama on Saturday. There is less to be positive about for the Portuguese contingent of coaches in France as André Villas-Boas, Paulo Sousa and Leonardo Jardim struggle for results, but on the goals front former Boavista forward Tomané enjoyed a match-winning full debut for Red Star Belgrade in Serbia and Pedro Santos scored again in MLS.
Félix lights up Madrid
Atletico Madrid’s club record signing of João Félix for a fee in the region of €126m back in July led to weeks of anticipation ahead of the Portuguese making his debut in La Liga. Félix scored three times during pre-season for Los Rojiblancos against Real Madrid, MLS All-stars and Juventus, but the meeting with Getafe at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano represented his first significant test.
The hosts scored the only goal of the game midway through the first half through Alvaro Morata, while events took an interesting turn when both sides received a red card before the break. For Félix the biggest moment came around ten minutes after the re-start, with the Seleção star picking up possession inside his own half and beating three players, demonstrating skill, strength and speed before winning a penalty.
A better quality video of João Félix’s nutmeg and run which led to the penalty.— Próxima Jornada (@ProximaJornada1) August 18, 2019
Absolute magic from Félix. pic.twitter.com/iOomWx6aGy
The run raised the noise levels among the 55,000 in attendance, although Morata was unable to convert the subsequent spot kick. Félix was withdrawn not long after, having completed 65 minutes on his debut, with coach Diego Simeone telling reporters after the match that the decision was merely a precautionary one.
"João Felix had cramp and we decided to take him off, he's fine," said the Argentine. "It's not easy to play your first game in this league, especially against such a good defensive opponent. He didn't have space in the first half, but in one individual action he showed what he can do. But he showed his power, and hopefully these situations appear more often. He has to keep improving."
Roller coaster afternoon for Oliveira; Semedo starts in Barca upset
There was an even more eventful, albeit less high-profile, afternoon for Portuguese defender Paulo Oliveira during Eibar’s 2-1 loss at Mallorca on Saturday in Spain. The former Guimarães and Sporting stopper found the net twice in the second half, but unfortunately for Oliveira the second came in the wrong penalty box as he cancelled out his equaliser by turning the ball past his own goalkeeper to give Mallorca the three points.
The opening weekend in Spain got off to a headline-grabbing start with Barcelona’s surprise 1-0 defeat to Athletic Bilbao on Friday evening. Nélson Semedo, regularly linked with a move away from Camp Nou due to inconsistent playing time, was handed a starting spot at right-back for Barca, who went down to a late goal from substitute Aritz Aduriz.
There was also a Spanish top flight debut to remember for Portuguese goalkeeper Rui Silva, who took part, alongside teammate Domingos Duarte, in newly-promoted Granada’s 4-4 draw away at Villarreal. The visitors trailed 4-2 heading into the last 15 minutes but late goals from Roberto Soldado and Antonio Puertas earned Granada a point.
Flamengo firing under Jorge Jesus
Portuguese boss Jorge Jesus is enjoying arguably the most positive period of his young career in Brazilian football after back-to-back goal-laiden wins have led to the Rio de Janeiro club closing in on the leaders spot in Serie A.
Flamengo recorded an emphatic 4-1 win at city rivals Vasco da Gama on Saturday evening to follow up last weekend’s 3-1 victory over Gremio at home. The wins, coupled with the dwindling results of Luiz Felipe Scolari’s champions Palmeiras and a defeat for contenders Santos on Sunday, means Flamengo are now up to second place and just two points off Jorge Sampaoli’s Santos.
The form of his side is encouraging for Jesus ahead of their midweek Copa Libertadores quarter final showdown with Internacional. As one of South America’s biggest clubs but having failed to capture the trophy for 38 years, Jesus has admitted that the Libertadores crown is the priority for Flamengo this season.
Tomané the hero on full Red Star debut
Portuguese striker Tomané was a standout figure on his full Serbian league debut for Red Star Belgrade with an assist and a late winner to help his new team to a 3-2 win at Spartak Subotica. Red Star had to come from behind at the Gradski Stadium but Tomané’s good work to assist Veljko Simic early in the second half put the visitors 2-1 up and the former Tondela man later decided the game with a near post header.
Tomané moved to Red Star in July on a three-year contract from Tondela in a deal thought to be worth €800,000 following an impressive season with the Beirão club last year. The 26-year-old made his first appearance for the former European champions last week, coming off the bench in a 2-0 win over Mladost Lucani at home.
Speaking after Saturday’s match-winning full debut, Tomané said: “ I am extremely happy that I have already scored in my second game for Red Star, which is very important for a striker. Much of the work was done by Gajic who sent a great cross from the right, and I was able to reach the ball and hit the net with my header.
“It was an extremely important moment, we had less than ten minutes left. We attacked throughout the game, Spartak played well, so I'm glad the fans were able to enjoy a good football game.
“The atmosphere was fantastic, few teams have such great support on away appearances as Red Star. A packed away stand and a song that didn't stop carried us on the field. They really gave us the strength to come back and get out of the match as winners.”
Next up for Red Star is Wednesday’s crucial Champions League play-off first leg against Young Boys in Switzerland. “We know that a good away game would give us an easier second leg in front of our fans and that is why we will be focused as much as possible on preparing for that game,” Tomané said. “The team has welcomed me very well, we are doing well in training and I hope to shake the net soon in Europe also.”
“It’s not enough” – Sanches disappointed with Bayern cameo
Renato Sanches again caused a stir over his situation with Bayern Munich by reiterating his displeasure over his role in Niko Kovac’s squad. Although the Bundesliga season is only one round underway, the five-minute cameo afforded to the former Benfica man during Bayern’s 2-2 draw with Hertha Berlin is an all too familiar scenario for Sanches.
Sanches was issued just four starts in the Bundesliga last season, despite assurances over game time heading into the campaign, with all of his full appearances coming before Christmas. As a result, the 21-year-old attempted to leave the club in January, only to be refused a move and again told by Kovac he would be given minutes during the second half of the season.
With both promises going unfulfilled, Sanches announced his displeasure at the end of the season. However, with Bayern adamant they would not part with their €35m signing, Sanches was convinced to stay and play a bigger role in the German champions’ defence of their crown.
Friday evening’s draw with Hertha, which saw Sanches introduced on 85 minutes, has cast doubt over the extent to which the midfielder’s situation has changed. “It’s not a good situation for me,” he said. “It’s the second time I asked to leave and the club won’t let me. Five minutes is not enough for me.” After hearing the comments, Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge responded by insisting Sanches will not leave the club and urged the Portuguese to “calm down”.
French struggles continue for AVB, Jardim and Sousa
Leonardo Jardim’s Monaco have made a disastrous start to the new Ligue 1 campaign in France with two 3-0 defeats both coming after being reduced to ten men during the first half. Jardim’s side were thrashed 3-0 by newly-promoted Metz on Saturday, mirroring their 3-0 opening day loss at home to Lyon in which they also incurred a red card when 1-0 down.
Jardim, who lost Rony Lopes to Sevilla last week, selected Gelson Martins in attack and introduced Gil Dias for the last twenty minutes at the weekend. “It's a tough record,” admitted the former Sporting boss. “We were quickly punished with a penalty after ten minutes and then the red card after half an hour. Our goal is to work more and more to overcome these difficulties and quickly have a competitive team.”
There was also frustration for André Villas-Boas after a controversial incident in Marseille’s 0-0 draw at Nantes, which leaves the Portuguese with one point and no goals from his opening two matches in charge. Marseille missed a first-half penalty when usual taker Dimitri Payet allowed new arrival Dario Benedetto to assume duties and the Argentine blazed over the crossbar.
"I told the players that this was the first and last time this happens,” said Villas-Boas. “I said it at the break. Payet takes penalties well. I realise there is a positive intention and Dario took them at Boca and usually scored. But I didn't like it and first chance I got I communicated that.”
The three Portuguese coaches in Ligue 1 have just two points between them from the opening two rounds of action after Paulo Sousa’s Bordeaux were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Montpellier. However, for the increasingly criticised Sousa (2 wins from 12 matches in Ligue 1) the match brought some positives as his half-time substitute Josh Maja earned the hosts a point and led to praise for the decision.
Debuts, goals and assists across the world
Pedro Santos is developing into a fine goalscoring midfielder in the United States' MLS after another goal for Columbus Crew this weekend. The former Braga man scored in his side’s 2-2 draw with Toronto to move him onto 9 league goals from 24 appearances, making it already the best goalscoring return of the 31-year-old’s career. Nani was also on target in MLS this weekend, with his penalty for Orlando in their 1-1 draw at Minnesota his first goal in over two months.
Ivan Cavaleiro scored his first goal for Fulham since his move from Wolverhampton and it was a crucial one for the London club. The 25-year-old’s goal ten minutes from time gave Fulham a 2-1 win at Huddersfield on Friday evening. Also in the Championship, Leonardo Lopes came off the bench to assist Hull City’s goal in their 1-1 draw at Brentford, while Tiago Silva came on during the second half and set up Nottingham Forest’s third in a 3-0 win over Birmingham City.
There was no debut for João Cancelo at Manchester City or Pedro Rebocho at Besiktas as both players watched from the substitutes bench, but Edgar Ié did make his first appearance for Dutch side Feyenoord as a half time substitute in their 1-1 draw with Utrecht, while Miguel Veloso’s first match with Verona saw them knocked out of the Coppa Italia on penalties by Cremonese.
Daniel Candeias’ debut for Genclerbirligi saw them beaten 1-0 at home by Rizespor, on a Turkish opening weekend marked by defeat for all of last season’s top three. Champions Galatasaray lost 2-0 at a Denizlispor side containing new recruit Tiago Lopes, while Ricardo Quaresma played for an hour in Besiktas’ heavy 3-0 defeat to Sivasspor.
There were also goals this weekend for Elton Monteiro, who scored for Lausanne in a 4-0 win over Kriens in Switzerland, as well as Filipe Nascimento who struck for Levski Sofia in Bulgaria as they beat Vitosha Bistritsa 4-0. Finally, in Romania David Caiado came off the bench to assist a 95th-minute winner for Hermannstadt Academica Clinceni.
Portuguese Bosses: Morais takes top spot in Korea as Gomes earns big Reading win
José Morais and Jeonbuk Motors assumed leadership of the South Korean KL 1 after 26 rounds of action. Morais’ side are unbeaten in 15 league matches and moved one point clear of Ulsan after beating their title rivals 3-0 at home on Friday.
In England, José Gomes’ Reading strolled to an impressive 3-0 win over Cardiff City on Sunday afternoon. Gomes had Portuguese forward Lucas João in attack for their first victory of the season. Also in second tier action, Pedro Emanuel's first game in charge of Almeria brought a 3-0 win over Albacete in Spain and Rui Almeida's Caen were held 0-0 by Chambly in France. In the top tier in England, there was a 1-0 win for Marco Silva’s Everton in the Premier League over Watford, with André Gomes taking his place in the line-up after a minor injury concern last week.
Luís Castro’s Shakhtar Donetsk maintained their 100% record in the Ukrainian Premier League with a 2-0 win at Lviv. Also finding form are Pedro Caixinha and Cruz Azul in Mexico thanks to a 3-1 win at Atlas, representing back-to-back wins in Liga MX. However, a disappointing week for Rui Faria ended with his Al Duhail side losing the Qatari Super Cup 1-0 to Al Sadd, just days after being knocked out of the Asian Champions League by their domestic rivals.
By Sean Gillen