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Portuguese Pharaohs: Gomaa features in Nacional win, Shika’s Sporting draw, Koka’s Rio Ave lose
Round 17 of the Liga Zon Sagres saw different fortunes for all of the Egyptians playing in Portugal, as Ali Ghazal and Saleh Gomaa’s Nacional claimed an important win, Shikabala’s Sporting Lisbon stumbled and Ahmed Hassan Koka’s Rio Ave were defeated.
Vitória Setúbal 2-0 Rio Ave
On Saturday, Koka’s Rio Ave visited Vitória Setúbal and it took just 46 seconds before the home team took the lead, via Rafael Martins, who slotted the ball past the goalkeeper to put the home side in the lead early on. Setúbal kept their high pressure throughout the entire first half, not giving Rio Ave any chances to attack and try to equalize the match.
The pressure paid off, as Marcelo played the ball with his hand inside the box in a harmless play. Rafael Martins converted the penalty and doubled Setúbal’s lead 30 minutes into the game.
For the second half, Rio Ave coach Nuno Espírito do Santo, used all of his substitutions at the same time, one of which being Koka, who replaced Sandro Lima. Rio Ave managed to apply more pressure, but the tide turned quickly, as two red cards in quick succession helped define the course of the match.
On the 69th minute, Nuno Lopes received his second yellow after a rough challenge and at the 71st, it was Edimar who was told to take an early shower.
Setúbal proceeded to control the match and guarantee a comfortable win over a very unstable Rio Ave side.
Sporting Lisbon 0-0 Académica
On Sunday, Sporting Lisbon had a very good chance of isolating themselves in the lead of the championship, following Porto’s loss and Benfica’s draw, but they were halted by a solid Académica side to a 0-0 draw.
Before the match, Shikabala was introduced to the fans, along with Sporting’s other winter transfers and watched the game from the stands. He can be selected for next week’s big derby match against Benfica.
Sporting saw their chances being constantly thwarted by the Académica defense and goalkeeper Ricardo, who provided several excellent saves and kept the visiting side in contention, even though they never really threatened Sporting’s back four. A stalemate was the final result and Sporting are still two points behind Benfica coming into next week’s derby.
Vitória Guimarães 1-2 CD Nacional
Finally, on Monday, Nacional visited Vitória Guimarães in a clash important for the Europa League qualification spots. With Ali Ghazal suspended and Saleh Gomaa on the bench, the game started well for the Madeiran side, as Djaniny was tripped by Paulo Oliveira to concede a penalty. Claudemir converted it cleanly to give Nacional an important early lead.
Nacional kept threatening the home side, but it was Guimarães who found the back of the net, after David Addy took advantage of a seemingly lost ball, entered the box and served Tomané who tapped the ball into the back of Gottardi’s goal at the 32nd minute. Guimarães gained some momentum in the following minutes and into the second half, but failing to create goal-worthy opportunities.
With Gomaa on the pitch, Nacional began to fight back. After Mário Rondón failed to score in an one-on-one situation with goalkeeper Douglas, the Venezuelan managed to score at the 87th minute, but thanks to a very poor intervention from Douglas, giving Nacional a very important win.
Sporting are now second in the standings with 38 points, Nacional climb to fourth with 28 and Rio Ave drops to ninth with 21. Next week, Nacional faces off against Belenenses at home, Rio Ave play hosts to Arouca and Sporting will face off against Benfica, in the Lisbon derby, a match which may be crucial for the championship and may see Shikabala make his debut.