Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Portugal February 2016

Two games in Portugal including a visit to Coimbra to see Academica.

6th February Tondela 1 Vitoria Guimaraes 1  Primeira Liga  1,432 (c. 300 away)

I made the trip via Porto and Coimbra to the small, quiet, town of Tondela overlooked by the Serra do Caramulo.

CD Tondela are new to the top flight and they are generally finding it tough.

But on this very wet Saturday night they were perhaps a little unlucky not to get a valuable victory.
The underfoot conditions, with plenty of surface water on the artificial pitch, often served to thwart their chances.

It all began very well for the higher ranked visitors who went ahead after a couple of minutes after a left wing cross was diverted in by Luis Lica.
For a while it seemed Vitoria would score again but Tondela forced themselves into the match and eventually levelled when a shot from Nathan Junior went through the hands of Miguel in the away goal.

The half finished even though the home side might have been ahead if a couple of penalty area scrambles had fallen their way.

As the night turned chillier the rain continued and we witnessed a more fragmented second half of too many yellow cards and a few annoying, often spurious, injuries.
Vitoria threatened from some set plays and Tondela again lucked out.

So the largish number from Guimaraes, including the noisy (and soaked) ‘White Angels’ could travel home with a decent point in their quest for European football.

While Tondela itself would no doubt liven up considerably when the imminent ‘Carnaval’ comes to town.

7th February  Academica 2 Nacional 2  Primeira LIga   2,879 (c. 20 away)

Combra is an hour or so from Tondela and I made the bus ride on the Sunday morning before this afternoon game.

My last visit to this Euro 2004 stadium was when England beat Switzerland before around 28,000 ; considerably less watched this league game.

But nevertheless we saw some late drama.

Played in much better,dry,conditions than the previous evening the teams could develop passing moves in normal fashion.

It began with Academica doing most of the pressing and they tested Gottardi in the Nacional goal.
With the first half about to end the home side scored a fine goal.

A long crossfield pass was controlled by Plange and he drove in a great shot for the opener.

However the effective lead was only about a minute as right after the interval Nacional equalised.
The first of two own goals - this one diverted in via a right wing cross.

The second came a couple of minutes later following a great run by Bonilha.

That prompted much grumbling from the home crowd.

Nacional, like Academica badly in need of the points, should have wrapped things up but they probably thought they would get home anyway as the time moved towards to the final minute.

But a free kick was not properly cleared and home defender Joao Real prodded home the equaliser for 2-2.

Despair for the Nacional players.
Then they must score - Pedro Trigueira lost the ball - but the chance slipped agonisingly wide.

More Nacional guys slumped to the ground.

So plenty of final drama for this neutral but probably not too comfortable for the two coaches.

Afterwards I walked, mostly downhill, back to my central hotel.
The evenings entertainment being some bacalhau (cod), wine and Real Madrid on TV.

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