Porto strike first blow in the title race by beating Sporting CP 3-0 at the Dragão

Porto defeated Sporting CP 3-0 in the first Clássico of the young Primeira Liga season. Hidemasa Morita hit the post early for the visitors, chances were hard to find before Evanilson gave the opening goal in the 42nd minute.

The Lions came close just before half-time, but their chances were shattered in the 75th minute when Pedro Porro was sent off for saving Galeno’s header on the line. Mateus Uribe and Galeno converted penalties to seal the deal, with Sérgio Conceição’s side scoring the first shot in the title race.

of Portugal Matthew Marshall Reports from the Estádio do Dragão.

FC Porto 3-0 Sporting CP

It was a cautious start as Sporting ran narrowly in the 11th minute. Pote got past Pepe and charged into the box, the ball being cleared to Hidemasa Morita who knocked his left footed shot off the post.

Manuel Ugarte was the first player booked for a high tackle against Otávio, who was frequently fouled and involved in collisions.

Porto created the first chance in the 18th minute when Zaidu Sanusi ran down the left wing after a clever play by Mehdi Taremi and the ball caught João Mário, who had to save his shot.

Opportunities were few and far between, however, with both teams canceling each other out. Pedro Porro’s bad pass was caught by Pepê Aquino, Porro was able to foul the Brazilian and Bruno Costa fired the free-kick into the wall.

Referee Nuno Almeida was not busy before tempers flared with 10 minutes remaining. Matheus Reis had become public enemy number one in dragão, warned by Almeida after bursting into a ball boy.

Pepe and Reis fought a heated head-to-head before being booked, with Luís Neto, Sanusi and Morita all having separate incidents within the space of two minutes.

Dragons go ahead

Just as it looked like a rather uneventful first half was about to kick off, the game came alive in the 42nd minute as the Dragons took the lead.

A dangerous cross from João Mário found Taremi, who narrowly put Antonio Adán on the ball. Both players were eliminated, Evanilson took the gift and turned it into an empty goal. The Brazilian striker had another chance minutes later but failed to find an Aquino cross.

Sporting missed two chances to equalize in added time and Reis cleaned and met Trincão, who forced a save from Diogo Costa. Costa was brought in from the resulting corner, saving Gonçalo Inácio’s header and smothering the ball while Sebastián Coates waited to strike.

João Mário found Bruno Costa who had the first chance of the second half, the midfielder firing over the bar from a good position.

The game returned to a war of attrition when Rúben Amorim came on on the bench in the 70th minute, with Nuno Santos and Rochinha replacing Luís Neto and Hidemasa Morita.

Sérgio Conceição reacted by substituting Stephen Eustáquio and Galeno for Bruno Costa and Mehdi Taremi.

Porro’s sacking ends Sporting’s chances

The game took a big turn in the 75th minute when the Lions were reduced to 10 men. Stationed on the line, Porro temporarily mistook himself for a keeper, making a great save to deny Galeno, which saw the right-back sent off.

Reis was cautioned for inciting a melee while Mateus Uribe waited to execute the penalty, the Colombian eventually stepping forward and slamming it home.

Amorim got Reis out of the line of fire with Jeremiah St. Juste, the ineffective Marcus Edwards making way for Issahaku Fatawu.

Fatawu didn’t have to wait long to get involved, skipping Zanusi and Iván Marcano but unable to beat Costa, who came off his line to thwart the 18-year-old.

The home crowd was in full voice and had more to celebrate in the 86th minute as Porto left the result beyond doubt. Galeno charged into the box which sent Adán into a moment of madness as the goalkeeper knocked out the winger who advanced and converted the penalty.

Conceição emptied his bench, Adán deflected a cross from Galeno’s Gabriel Veron but it was a job for the Dragons, who clinched three straight victories in their bid to retain their Primeira Liga title.

Postage has work to do

Porto left late last week to win at Vizela, barely threatening Antonio Adán in the opening 40 minutes against Sporting CP.

Pedro Porro’s dismissal and two penalties added some glamor to the goal-line, but Sérgio Conceição will be aware his side still have a long way to go to defend their title and compete in the final stages of the Champions League be able.

Sporting CP’s squad planning leaves a lot to be desired

Sporting did their best to knock out the Dragons and it could have been a different story had Hidemasa Morita converted his early efforts. They were generally well organized and were unlucky to concede the opening goal.

Regardless, the recent sale of Mateus Nunes to Wolves for €45m significantly reduces the strength of their team. Coupled with Paulinho, the only recognized forward in the squad, it’s hard to see how they could face a serious title challenge.

Getting that game out of the way early could be an advantage for Rúben Amorim’s side who should still have little trouble beating the other mediocre sides in the Primeira Liga.

Amorim has proven to be a first class manager who gets the best out of his players but his comments in the pre-match press conference were predictable and insightful.

When asked about the sale of Nunes, he said: “Obviously I’m not happy, Matheus Nunes is a player who will be greatly missed. I didn’t expect to lose him but now it’s time to play the next game to prepare.”

Clearly upset at the timing of the sale, particularly following the sale of Tabata, he also took aim at the club by saying “I’m just an employee of the club”. Regarding the loss of Tabata and Nunes, he said: “We sold Tabata because Matheus Nunes didn’t want to leave at the time. I said Tabata was important but since I couldn’t stay with everyone it had to be. Certainly the inconsistency is not on the coach’s side”.

I think there is no doubt that Amorim and his agent will test the waters in the coming months to see which clubs are interested in his services.



FC Porto (4-3-1-2): Diogo Costa – João Mário, Pepe, Iván Marcano, Zaidu Sanusi (Wendell 87) – Bruno Costa (Stephan Eustáquio 72), Mateus Uribe, Otávio – Pepê Aquino (Gabriel Veron 87) – Evanilson (Toni Martínez 88), Mehdi Taremi (Galeno 72′)

Unused Substitutes: Cláudio Ramos, David Carmo, André Franco, Danny Namaso

head coach: Sergio Conceicao

Athletic CP (3-4-3): Antonio Adán – Luís Neto (Nuno Santos 70′), Sebastián Coates, Gonçalo Inácio – Pedro Porro, Manuel Ugarte (Ricardo Esgaio 91′), Hidemasa Morita (Rochinha (70′), Matheus Reis (Jeremiah St. Juste 79′) – Francisco Trincão, Marcus Edwards (Issahaku Fatawu 79′), Pote

Unused Substitutes: Franco Israel, Mateus Fernandes, Rodrigo Ribeiro, Flavio Nazinho

head coach: Reuben Amorim


[1-0] – Evanilson 42′

[2-0] – Mateus Uribe 78′ P

[3-0] – Galeno 86′ P

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