Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo is nearing the top of the Serie A goalscoring charts after scoring his fifth goal – assisted by João Cancelo - in as many league games in Juventus’ 2-0 victory over AC Milan at San Siro on Sunday evening to underline his team's dominance in Italy.
Meanwhile, Nuno Espírito Santo was glowing in his praise of Wolverhampton Wanderers after their draw with Arsenal at the Emirates, but there was less to be positive about for José Mourinho, or indeed a raging Pedro Martins in Greece, while Bruno Alves, Hélder Barbosa, Flávio Paixão, Anthony Lopes and more are covered in this weekend's wide-ranging stories.
This win no mean feat - Ronaldo
Ronaldo’s goal for the Bianconeri was his first in Milan, having surprisingly failed to score in all of his previous five matches in the city. Mario Mandzukic put Juve ahead in the first half and the Croatian may have had a second after Ronaldo created a heading opportunity for him with superb wing play on the left, but it was left to the Portugal captain to seal the points from close range after João Cancelo’s run and shot was parried into his path.
The strike puts Ronaldo on nine Serie A goals, just one behind current leading scorer Krzysztof Piatek of Genoa. “I am very happy, especially for the team, because playing away to Milan is always very difficult,” Ronaldo told Sky Sport Italia. “Winning 2-0 at San Siro is no mean feat. It was important to win, because Napoli beat Genoa last night and we had to keep our distance,” he concluded, while urging the Italian authorities not to punish Milan striker Gonzalo Higuain who was sent off for abusive language.
Alves keeps going; No João Mario
Parma's veteran Portuguese central defender Bruno Alves shows no sign of slowing down with age as he continued his record of playing every minute so far in Serie A this season. Alves, who turns 37 later this month, took his place in the heart of Parma’s defence for their impressive 2-1 victory away at Torino, and the newly-promoted Gialloblu sit comfortably in mid-table on their return to the top flight.
Elsewhere in Italy, it was perhaps a surprise that João Mario did not feature for Inter after his recent upturn in form. The Portuguese midfielder was not selected for the line-up by Luciano Spalletti and remained on the bench as the Nerazurri’s recent run of good results came to a halt with a 4-1 defeat at Atalanta on Sunday lunchtime.
“Humble” Nuno: It’s a good point
In England, much of the media focus was on the Manchester derby, but from a Portuguese point of view the standout performance of the weekend came from Nuno Espírito Santo’s Wolverhampton Wanderers, who came close to earning what would have been a well-deserved three points away at Arsenal on Sunday.
Former Benfica man Ivan Cavaleiro gave the visitors the lead after just 13 minutes, playing a neat one-two with Mexican forward Raul Jimenez, before slotting past Bernd Leno. Wolves had several golden chances to seal the win in the second half, with substitute Diogo Jota drawing a good save from Leno late on, and Nuno’s men were punished when Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s attempted cross found the far corner to see the match finish 1-1.
Cavaleiro was joined in the Wolves starting line-up by Rui Patricio, Rúben Neves, João Moutinho and Hélder Costa. Speaking after the match, Nuno refused to be disappointed with just a point. “It’s a good point, that’s a good point,” he told BBC. “We are humble. We came last season from The Championship. It was a very good season but to come here and be disappointed with a point, I am not.
“I am very happy with the performance. I think we played very well and our fans should be proud of ourselves. Of course we could have won - let’s try it next season. What impressed me? We were organised, very solid, very brave in the way we defended and we had talent with the ball to create so much against a very good team. The credit is with the players – very well done.”
Bernardo’s City overcome Mourinho
For José Mourinho, a recent upturn in results with Manchester United ended with a 3-1 defeat against local rivals Manchester City. Although United remained in the game until the latter stages, the general reaction has focused on the gap in quality between the sides, with City dominating a match in which United rarely threatened, scoring from the penalty spot with their only shot on target.
“One thing is a bad performance; another thing is a performance with mistakes. I think our performance with mistakes. The three goals we concede are mistakes and goals I am not happy to concede. We were punished by that," a defiant Mourinho told the BBC.
“That’s football, and even more that is football when we have a week where we play three consecutive matches away: Bournemouth, Juventus and Man City. And City play three matches at home, winning big and enjoying the game, relaxing. Our last match against Juventus left some scars in the team. I could feel some of them not just physically but mentally were paying the price. For me, zero words against the players. I am with them and they are with me.”
The result leaves United in 8th place in the Premier League with a negative goal difference heading into the international break. For City, another outstanding performance from Bernardo Silva, who was constantly involved for the champions and provided the assist for the third goal by Ilkay Gundogan at the end of a 44-pass move for City.
Silva's Everton hold Chelsea
Marco Silva had been in optimistic mood ahead of his Everton side travelling to Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea this weekend, and the former Sporting boss was proved correct as the Toffees secured a point with a goalless draw. André Gomes played the full 90 minutes in midfield for Silva, who was impressed with his team.
“It was a tough match,” said Silva. “We showed very, very good things. Our aim is to challenge and have the belief to come away with three points. Today we made a good step. It’s the first time they haven’t scored at home this season. In the first half we were very, very good. Our shape was very good and our players did everything we asked.”
Betis conquer Camp Nou; André Silva returns
One of the standout results of the weekend saw Real Betis beat Barcelona 4-3 at Camp Nou on Saturday. With William Carvalho – who is becoming an ever present for the side – in midfield, Betis took a 2-0 lead in the first half and, despite a brace from Lionel Messi, secured a memorable win at the home of the champions. Nélson Semedo was an unused substitute for Barca.
There was also positive news from the other side of the Andalusian city as Portuguese forward André Silva returned to action for Sevilla this weekend following a brief injury. The youngster joined Daniel Carriço in the line-up as Sevilla beat Espanyol 2-1 at home to cut Barca’s lead at the top of La Liga to just one point.
Portuguese trio steal the show in Turkey
Hélder Barbosa, Miguel Lopes and Josué were key protagonists in Akhisarspor’s 2-1 win over Antalyaspor in the Turkish Super Lig on Sunday. Experienced winger Barbosa opened the scoring with a superb finish for what was an excellent team goal, and with the scores level at 1-1 in injury time, former Braga midfielder Josué found ex-Sporting man Miguel Lopes, who calmly found the net to seal all three points for the visitors.
Paixão keeps Lechia top in Poland
Lechia Gdansk increased their lead at the top of Poland’s Ekstraklasa this weekend to three points with a third straight league win, beating Cracovia Krakow 1-0 at home. Ex-Benfica defender João Nunes featured in the Lechia starting line-up, but once again veteran Flávio Paixão was the hero, heading in the winning goal ten minutes from time.
The goal was the 34-year-old’s fourth in his last five league games and now sees him top the goal-scoring charts in Poland. The weekend was made better for Lechia as their lead at the summit of the league grew to three points, after Ricardo Sá Pinto’s Legia Warsaw were beaten 2-1 at Pogo Szczecin. Former Sporting midfielder André Martins scored a stoppage-time consolation for Sá Pinto’s side, who slip to 3rd place.
Martins fumes at officials after Greek derby draw
Portuguese coach Pedro Martins escaped what would have been a costly defeat for his Olympiakos side at home to rivals Panathinaikos on Sunday afternoon. Olympiakos, for whom Martins selected José Sá and Daniel Podence, trailed 1-0 heading into the dying moments before Pape Cisse struck with a 95th-minute leveller.
Following the match, Martins raged at the performance of the Swiss referee after his side emerged on the wrong end of several of the official’s decisions. “Such games could be beautiful for Greek football, as we see the quality and the rivalry,” he said. “Unfortunately, we also see what is wrong. We have seeing officiating errors today.
“We said that with foreign referees we would not see these mistakes. I cannot understand the decisions. Our players are sad because they gave everything; they fought like warriors and tried until the end. Unfortunately, the result would be different if we did not have these decisions.
“I cannot understand how the foreign referee can referee for 90 minutes and ignore so many fouls that put our players at risk. There were no yellows until the end, no justice for our players. It has nothing to do with being an outsider. Of course it’s a bad result after the way we played. We gave our soul and are disappointed not to have three points.”
Lopes error not punished; Quaresma assist in vain
Anthony Lopes’ blushes were spared in France this weekend as he gave away a penalty which was converted in Lyon’s match away at Guingamp. The Portugal goalkeeper dived at the feet of Nathael Julan, with Marcus Thuram converting the spot kick. However, Lyon ensured the mistake was not critical by running out 4-2 winners over the hosts, who had former Benfica man Pedro Rebocho in defence.
In Turkey, Ricardo Quaresma created the opening goal in Besiktas’ game with Sivasspor with an excellent free-kick delivery for Guven Yalcin to head home. However, the visiting side turned the game around and ran out 2-1 winners to leave Besiktas floundering in 7th place in the Super Lig with one win from five league games.
Remaining goals round-up
There were also goals this week for Portuguese in Cyprus, Romania and Holland. Diogo Salomão scored from the penalty spot for Dinamo Bucharest in the capital city derby match with Steaua Bucharest, which ended 1-1. Veteran midfielder Filipe Texeira, 38, was in the Steaua starting line-up.
Elsewhere, former Maritimo midfielder Alex Soares scored the winning goal for Omonia in their 2-1 win at Doxa in the Cypriot 1st Division. Meanwhile, 20-year-old striker André Vidigal is finding his feet in the Dutch Eredivisie after scoring ten league goals in the second tier last season with Fortuna Sittard. Vidigal came off the bench to score a consolation in Fortuna’s 3-2 defeat at VVV, registering his second goal in his last four appearances. Perhaps a young forward to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
Red cards round-up!
On the final weekend of action in the Chinese CSL, champions Shanghai SIPG ended with a rare defeat, as Vítor Pereira’s men went down 3-2 at Tianjin Quanjian. Meanwhile, Ricard Vaz Tê, who has played a key role in helping Henan Jianye survive relegation with 11 goals from just 21 appearances, was sent off for two bookable offence in the first half as his team were thrashed 4-0 by Jiangsu Suning.
Also sent off this weekend was Tiago Lopes of Kayserispor, who received his marching orders late on as his side went down 3-2 to Galatasaray in Turkey. Completing the trio of reds was former Belenenses defender Dinis Almeida, who came off the bench for Xanthi in Greece only to be sent off for two yellow cards in quick succession in their 1-0 defeat at home to Panionios.
By Sean Gillen