João Palhinha produced the moment of the weekend in the Portuguese Abroad section with a dramatic late equaliser to give Marco Silva’s Fulham a memorable 2-2 draw at Arsenal on Saturday.
Also in the Premier League, Bruno Fernandes was a driving force as Manchester United came from 2-0 down to beat Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford. Elsewhere, Xande Silva scored his first goal on his home debut for Atlanta United in MLS, while Cristiano Ronaldo hit a hat-trick in Saudi Arabia, where Jota proved a point with champions Al-Ittihad.
João Palhinha made his first start of the season for Fulham in the Premier League, making a welcome return for the Cottagers as they looked to bounce back from a 3-0 home defeat to Brentford. Marco Silva’s side headed to the Emirates to play Arsenal, who were protecting a 100% record against their London opponents.
Fulham ended up taking a share of the spoils with a 2-2 draw, secured by Palhinha’s dramatic 87th-minute equaliser, which made just minutes after his side were reduced to ten men when Calvin Bassey was sent off. Palhinha swept in the leveller from a corner, putting the shine on a first start of the season following a pre-season shoulder injury.
“It was an amazing, great game for us,” the former Sporting man said. “We fought until the last minutes. The effort that this team gave for the 90 minutes was amazing, even with a player less. With the help from our fans. We feel really happy with this result.
“[The ball] was in my zone. I tried to kick the ball well to score the goal and I feel really happy to score. It’s my first game since returning from injury. I’m really happy to return and help my teammates achieve good things. I know we will achieve more good things, like we did last season. “
Fernandes key to United comeback
Manchester United avoided a second consecutive defeat in the Premier League thanks to a comeback from two goals down to beat Nottingham Forest 3-2 at Old Trafford. The Red Devils, who deployed Diogo Dalot at left-back due to a shortage in the position, found themselves 2-0 down inside four minutes during what manager Erik ten Hag labelled a “horror start” at the Theatre of Dreams.
Crucial to the fightback, unsurprisingly, was captain Bruno Fernandes. United halved the deficit when Fernandes’ shot was shovelled wide by Matt Turner before the ball found its way to Marcus Rashford, who beat Serge Aurier and crossed for Christian Eriksen to score from close range. Fernandes should have registered an assist shortly after when his corner somehow carried through to Casemiro, but the Brazilian managed to miss when scoring appeared routine.
The pair did combine to get United level early in the second half. Fernandes worked a wonderful one-two routine with Marcus Rashford, finding the England forward outside the box before making a run into the danger area and nodding Rashford’s return into the path of Casemiro, who this time converted.
United’s hopes of a winner were boosted when Forest were reduced to ten men midway through the second half. Casemiro sought Fernandes with a throughball and before the Portuguese could consider a finish, defender Joe Morrall tripped the United skipper to concede a free-kick as well as a numerical disadvantage. Fernandes almost set countryman Dalot up for a clear chance from the set-piece, but the full-back had failed to read the intent and was caught on his heels.
It would be Fernandes’ responsibility to complete the comeback after Rashford drew a foul from Brazilian youngster Danilo and United were awarded a 76th-minute penalty. Fernandes stepped up to brilliantly slot his shot into the bottom left corner for his first goal of the season, ensuring a dysfunctional United returned to winning ways ahead of next weekend’s trip to Arsenal.
Xande Silva makes his mark in MLS
Former Portugal youth international Xande Silva had a home debut to remember in the United States with Atlanta United on Saturday. Having signed for the club earlier this month on a loan deal from French club Dijon, Silva made his first appearance in last week’s 2-0 win at Seattle Sounders, but his home debut in Georgia saw the forward introduce himself to his new fans with a goal and an assist against Nashville.
Atlanta ran out 4-0 winners and Silva was involved in both the opening goals. First the 26-year-old connected with a fabulous ball from Thiago Almada with a crispy low volley to open his account for Atlanta and put the hosts ahead; then Silva turned provider for Almada with a neat reverse pass from which the Brazilian coolly doubled the lead.
Silva was replaced on the hour as his side added two more goals for a comfortable victory. With two spells in England under his belt at West Ham United and Nottingham Forest, as well as a brief stay in Greece at Aris before he headed to France, Silva has been searching for the right setting to explore his potential since breaking through at Vitoria Guimaraes. In Atlanta, he may have found the perfect spot and building on a strong start will be the focus for the Lisbon native.
Portuguese forward Xande Silva opened his MLS account in style at the weekend on his Atlanta United home debut. What a finish! He got an assist too pic.twitter.com/r8QE8uKhdb— Sean Gillen (@SeanGillen9) August 28, 2023
Jota opens Saudi account amid reports of early departure
Former Benfica and Celtic forward Jota has endured a strange start to life in Saudi Arabia following his summer move from the Scottish giants. Having signed for Nuno Espirito Santo’s champions Al-Ittihad in July, the forward recently saw his name linked with an almost immediate exit from the club as speculation grows over an audacious move for Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah.
The rumours of Salah arriving at the club continue, while Jota remains confined to a surprising role of substitute in the early stages of the season. On Monday, Jota came off the bench to score his first goal for the club in a 3-0 victory at Al Wehda in Mecca, scoring the second having replaced Karim Benzema in the first half.
Jota has his first goal in Saudi Arabia pic.twitter.com/W557VYqjcP— Sean Gillen (@SeanGillen9) August 28, 2023
The rest: Samú Costa strikes in La Liga
Portugal U21 midfielder Samú Costa is a new arrival at Spanish side Mallorca, having made the switch from fellow La Liga outfit Almeria during the summer. Often heralded as a star of the future, the 22-year-old has already made an impression on the Balearic Island by scoring in their 3-2 defeat at Granade this weekend. Not renowned as a goalscorer, Costa’s strike means he has already equalled his tally from the whole of last season at Almeria.
The Luso goals continued to come in Spain’s second tier, led by former Seleção international Dyego Sousa who struck for his new team Alcorcon in their impressive 2-0 win at Real Valladolid. Real Zaragoza are the early leaders in the Segunda Division with a 100% record maintained by Portuguese defender Jair Amador, who got the only goal in a 1-0 win at Tenerife.
In the Middle East, Ricardo Gomes is a new arrival at Qatari side Al Shamal, where he signed in a high-profile deal from Serbian giants Partizan Belgrade. On Monday, the ex-Nacional man from Praia scored his first goal on his second appearance, converting a penalty in a 2-2 draw away against Al Wakra. In Israel, veteran defender Hélder Lopes scored as Hapoel Be’er Sheva beat Hapoel Hadera 3-0 at home.
Former Casa Pia forward Gonçalo Gregório is enjoying a strong start with Romanian giants Dinamo Bucharest. The 28-year-old scored for the second match running and his 3rd of the season, as his team were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Petrolul. Further south in Cyprus, Hélder Ferreira scored for Anorthosis as they went top of the First Division with a 2-0 triumph at Othellos.
Finally, there were goals this weekend in some of the less-heralded world leagues, including former Farense midfielder Tavinho continuing his good start in Indonesia with RANS Nusantara with his 4th goals in 9 appearances. In the Scottish Championship, there was a goal for João Baldé in Arbroath’s 3-0 win at Greenock Morton; Nuno da Silva scored for Aarau in the Swiss Challenge League in a 2-2 draw at Schaffhausen; finally in Sweden Rui Modesto’s goal helped AIK to a 3-0 win over Varberg.
By Sean Gillen