Quaresma's fury, Pepe's released, Anthony Lopes' heroics, Guerreiro's goals - and MORE: a review of Portugal this week across the continent
As is always the case, a great deal of football took place this week as both domestic and continental fixtures dominated the headlines, and there was Portuguese involvement aplenty across the board.
The Champions League
Starting in Europe’s most illustrious competition, there was plenty to cheer about for fans of Portuguese football. First off, both domestic representatives in Benfica and Porto secured victory, with Porto’s Moussa Marega continuing his stunning goalscoring form, finding the back of the net in the Champions League for the fifth match in a row.
But outside of the Portuguese representatives, there was more action to be excited about for fans of the Selecao, as Raphael Guerreiro found the back of the net in the Champions League for Borussia Dortmund yet again, giving him his 4th goal in as many Champions League appearances this season.
In fact, he has now averaged a goal every 55 minutes in Europe’s most illustrious competition, having scored twice against Atletico Madrid and twice against Monaco, a truly stunning record from his left midfield position.
It also makes him the highest scoring Portuguese player in the Champions League this season.
There was further joy for Portuguese players in the competition as well, as Anthony Lopes pulled off a stunning save to top off an excellent day in the office for the Portuguese goalkeeper, who ensured that Lyon maintained a 1-1 scoreline against Shakhtar Donetsk that saw them advance to the second round of the Champions League.
That was, however, bad news for Paulo Fonseca, who ended up only securing 3rd place in the Champions League group, the Shakhtar boss requiring victory over Lopes’ side to make the final 16, and as such have, like Benfica, dropped into the Europa League.
There was also misery for Portugal in the Young Boys-Juventus match, where Cristiano Ronaldo’s side suffered a surprise 2-1 defeat, the 5-time Balon d’Or winner at fault for not earning his side an unnecessary point, making an attempt to header a goalbound effort from an offside position, therefore causing what was an inevitable goal to be disallowed.
And Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United failed to capitalise on the slip up from The Old Lady; had they earned victory in their own match against Ruben Vezo’s Valencia, The Red Devils would have topped their Champions League group, leaving them with what would have surely been an easier round of 16 match.
But, United fell to a disappointing 2-1 loss, featuring a comical own goal by defender Phil Jones, and they had to settle for 2nd spot, the pressure on Mourinho increasing further.
Bernardo Silva also featured in Manchester City’s victory over Hoffenheim, but did not find the back of the net.
The Europa League
While it was a day to forget for both Mourinho and Fonseca in the Champions League, in the Europa League Pedro Martins secured an outstanding result and, with it, an excellent achievement.
The former Guimaraes manager needed to see his Olympiakos side come out victorious against an AC Milan team that knew a draw, or even a loss by a one-goal margin, would be enough to secure safe passage into the round of 32.
It was a tough ask for the Greek outfit, particularly with the score still 0-0 at half time, but two goals in the space of 10 minutes meant that they were heading through at the expense of Gattuso’s side.
However, just 2 minutes after Olympiakos’ second, Cristian Zapata broke Olympiakos hearts by finding the back of the net, a goal that put the Greek’s on the brink of elimination. The game was in the balance though, Olympiakos knowing that one more goal would be sufficient to advance, and indeed they succeeded, getting the ball across the line with just 9 minutes to go.
It was a terrific result, which earned Martins hero status among many of the Olympiakos fans.
There was less good news in Turkey tough, where Besiktas knew that even a point against Malmo would be sufficient to qualify for the next round of Europe’s secondary competition.
It was therefore of great concern when they went 1-0 down courtesy of Marcus Antonsson in the 51st minute.
There was plenty of time to recover though, one goal all that was required to salvage the situation, but Portuguese international Ricardo Quaresma did not help the cause, producing an ugly challenge on Malmo’s Franz Brorsson that ultimately earned him a red.
Down to 10 men, Besiktas failed to recover, unable to find the goal they so desperately needed, seeing the Turkish side crash out of Europe.
Across the continent
With regards to the rest of the overseas action, three Portuguese managers were in action in the English top flight - Marco Silva’s Everton kicking things off with a defeat to high-flying Manchester City.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves were also in action, defeating Bournemouth 2-0 to see the Portuguese-filled outfit hop up to 7th place in the league. If relegation was ever a concern, Wolves now sit 15 points above the drop zone, closer to 4th in the league and a Champions League spot than the bottom three.
And it was Benfica loanee Raul Jimenez that got the first goal, with Diogo Jota firing in the assist, before two more Portuguese boys got in on the action, Helder Costa and Ivan Cavaleiro linking up to finish off the game.
And Cavaleiro wasn’t the only Portuguese goalscorer in the English top flight; 19-year Domingos Quina, only starting his second top-flight match, rifled home a beautiful first-time effort from outside the box to get Watford’s third. A delightful finish from the teenage central midfielder who surely has a very bright future indeed.
Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United took on a high-flying, unbeaten Liverpool side and ultimately lost 3-1, Diogo Dalot playing 45 minutes of the fixture.
Across the continent, there was more disappointment for Portuguese football, as Pepe had his contact with Besiktas terminated, meaning that he is currently without a club. The news of his release was sudden and somewhat unexpected, but with Besiktas currently going through some financial difficulties, high-paid players such as Pepe were deemed too costly to keep hold of. It has also been reported that he has helped pay the wages of other staff at the club too, a great gesture from the veteran defender.
There was more bad news for an experienced Portuguese centreback in Europe, with Lille’s Jose Fonte sent off for cursing at the linesman after a throw-in was incorrectly given in favour of Nimes. It was a somewhat bizarre incident, with Fonte briefly showing his frustration at the linesman before getting on with the game, but the referee felt whatever was said was worthy of a red card.
On the positive side, Lille still went on to win the match 3-2, with Raphael Leao finding the back of the net for the French side, putting them in front in the opening 5 minutes, and Edgar Ie also played 70 minutes of the match.
And Portugal’s other high profile veteran centreback, Bruno Alves, played the whole 90 minutes for Parma yet again in their league clash with Sampdoria, although it was a less memorable day for the 36-year old than last weekend’s fixture - where he scored an exquisite free-kick to earn his side a point - and instead came away with nothing, losing 2-0.
At the other end of the pitch, Cristiano Ronaldo got the only goal of the match in Juventus’ 1-0 victory over Torino, converting from the penalty spot.