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Gomaa and Ghazal impress as Nacional draw in Taça de Portugal semis
Nacional have never reached the final of the Taça de Portugal in their 105 year history as Aly Ghazal recently alluded to, and after this evening’s draw with Sporting, that run is likely to continue as the team conceded a late equaliser just ten minutes after Sporting were reduced to ten men.
The first half was very even, with both sides having good chances, the first of which fell to Nacional’s Luís Aurélio, who headed inches wide from a Marco Matias cross after 10 minutes.
Just thirteen minutes later, and with Sporting progressively easing their way into the game, Japanese international Tanaka found himself 1-on-1 with Gottardi, but the 27-year-old shot straight at the goalkeeper, and the ball was eventually cleared cleared for a corner which was played short to André Martins who crossed and found the head of Paulo Oliveira, but the defender’s header was stopped by Gottardi and cleared by Ghazal.
Not for the last time in the game, Marco Matias was flagged for offside by the linesman as the half hour mark approached, but upon seeing the replay, he appeared to be half a yard onside and clean through on goal. Nacional were unsurprisingly incensed whilst Sporting were riding their luck playing such a high line.
As the half progressed, the chances started coming thick and fast and but for an amazing header off the line by João Aurélio from André Carrillo’s close-range shot just after the half hour mark, Sporting could well have taken a lead into the interval.
The final chance of what was a thoroughly entertaining half fell to Nacional’s Tiago Rodrigues, who seen his 25-yard drive come crashing off the woodwork just a minute before the break.
Goals seemed inevitable in this game, and the second half certainly didn’t disappoint.
Just five minutes after the restart, Nacional took the lead when Luís Aurélio capitalised on a howler from Sporting’s goalkeeper Ruí Partrício to tap in from close range. The Portuguese goalkeeper is normally quite reliable, but this frango will undoubtedly make the headlines tomorrow morning in the press.
Sporting hit back within minutes when Jefferson’s 25-yard free-kick was met by the head of Tobias who glanced it past Gottardi to level the score at 1-1. Sporting were right back in the game, but only for four minutes as Lucas João quickly restored the hosts’ lead with a header of his own following a cross by Marçal.
With lots of fouls throughout the game, a red card seemed inevitable, and with twenty minutes to go, Sporting’s Miguel Lopes was shown a second yellow following a rash challenge on Zainadine Junior.
Nacional were now a goal up, and a man up but any hopes of seeing the game out to give themselves a lead to bring to the Alvalade were soon dashed as Carlos Mané’s close-range curling effort found the back of the net eight minutes from time to make the game 2-2.
After an entertaining game which was full of drama and action, a draw was probably a fair result. Both of Nacional’s Egyptians worked hard in midfield, with Gomaa in particular playing his best game in 2015.
The second leg of this tie will be played in a month’s time, while Nacional’s next league game is on Monday evening against Koka’s Rio Ave.