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Portuguese Pharaohs: Saleh Gomaa makes Nacional debut
To finish the Portuguese gameweek, the Madeira Stadium was the stage for the encounter between Nacional and Estoril, in which the winner would isolate itself in 4th place of the championship, well inside the Europa League qualification spots.
The match began very well for the boys from Lisbon, as Sebá scored the opening goal of the match. Following a corner and a clearance off the line, the Brazilian volleyed the ball from a tight angle and a slight deflection helped to put the ball past goalkeeper Gottardi.
Nacional tried to reply, but Estoril’s second goal came soon after, more specifically in the 18th, as Mexer’s defensive mistake gave Evandro the chance to work with Javier Balboa and the former took the final shot, which ended in the back of the net. 2-0 Estoril and things were looking very tough for the Madeiran squad.
Ali Ghazal was booked in the 25th minute and soon after that, coach Manuel Machado decided to try to improve his squad, by bringing in Saleh Gomaa for his debut. With 32 minutes on the clock, the former ENPPI midfielder who joined Nacional earlier this month replaced Ghazal.
Just two minutes after Gomaa’s entrance, Nacional’s luck began to turn. Rúben Fernandes tripped Nacional striker Djaniny inside the box and the referee promptly awarded a penalty and sent Fernandes to the showers, a decision which was somewhat harsh. Nevertheless, Claudemir stepped up and calmly beat Vagner to give Nacional a hope of recovery.
The second half began much like the first, with an early goal, but this time for the home side. Also on league debut, Mozambican striker Reginaldo connected with Candeias’ cross and gave Nacional the much-needed equalizer.
After that, Nacional tried hard to score a winning goal, but most chances went off target. Gomaa saw a yellow card on the 60th minute and was lucky not to be sent off after aggressively tackling an Estoril player. However, it was Mexer who ended up being sent off, as he saw two yellow cards in the space of four minutes, returning to the dressing room eight minutes before schedule.
With both teams down to 10 men, Estoril regained their control of the match, and were close to scoring via Sebá, but the ball went wide of goal. 2-2 was the final score, a match overshadowed by an under-par refereeing, but entertaining nevertheless.
KingFut.com‘s Ziad Ibrahim recorded that Saleh Gomaa made 8 interceptions and had 88% pass accuracy from 26 attempted passes.
Nacional are now 6th in the league, with 25 points, just one outside of the Europa League qualification spots, whilst Rio Ave are 8th with 21. On the 2nd of February, Rio Ave will face Vitória Setúbal, as Nacional go to Portugal’s birthplace to play against Vitória Guimarães.
On Sunday, Ahmed Hassan “Koka” featured as Rio Ave hosted Belenenses in a very wet pitch in Vila do Conde and came out with a 1-0 win, courtesy of a Luís Gustavo goal at the 90th minute.
A very aggressive match (13 yellow cards handed out in total) only saw Koka come on to the field in the 80th minute, in place of Sandro Lima. His most relevant action of the game was receiving the final yellow card of the match, as the match was drawing to a close.