Sporting registered the 31st consecutive game without losing in Liga NOS. In their visit to Rio Ave, the “lions” beat Rio Ave 2-0 and are very close to winning the title of national champions, for the first time since 2002 – and have already guaranteed their presence in the 2021 Champions League group stage / 22.
Alvalade’s team was always superior, created the best moves of the match and scored by Pedro Gonçalves in the first half, from a penalty shootout, and by Paulinho, a great goal shortly after the hour of play. With this outcome, Rúben Amorim became the first coach with 31 games in a row without losing in the same edition of the championship. The Vila-Condenses, these, remain just above the “water line”.
The game explained in numbers
- Four changes in the “lion” for this game. António Adán returned to goal instead of Luís Maximiano, Gonçalo Inácio surrendered Luís Neto, João Pereira replaced Pedro Porro e João Mário was launched in place of Daniel Bragança. As for those in the house, we highlight only the departure of Costinha and the entry of Ivo Pinto.
- At seven minutes, Sebastián Coates headed and the ball hit the iron of the Rio Ave goal, following a corner, at 13, Nuno Santos shot hard for Pawel Kieszek’s tight save. From the corner, it was the turn of João Palhinha heading the post. A breakthrough entry by the “lion” who, in the first 15 minutes, had 66% of the ball possession, made four shots, one framed, two to the irons and recorded seven ball actions in the Vila-Condense area. On the other hand, nothing to report in offensive terms.
- At half an hour everything was still the same, with the Sporting on top of his opponent, counting six shots, three framed. Until the referee scored a penalty by Ivo Pinto’s arm on the ball in the penalty area. The VAR decision still took time, but Pedro Gonçalves (34 ′), in the conversion of the maximum punishment, did not forgive and reached his 18th goal at the time.
- Despite the “Pote” goal, it was João Palhinha the MVP in the 35th minute, with a rating of 6.0. The midfielder had two shots, one at the post, and had already won two offensive aerial duels, not showing any significant defensive numbers, given the little offensive accuracy of the home team – the first Vila-Condenses shot, and soon framed, appeared only at 41 minutes for Júnior Brandão.
- Break Sporting’s more than fair advantage at rest. Almost only gave “lion” in the first 45 minutes, especially in the offensive moments. At 55% of possession, the Lisboners gathered ten shots, four framed, 22 actions with ball in the opposite area and expected goals (xG) that even gave more than the lone goal, scored by Pedro Gonçalves, from penalty. The best in the field at this stage was João Palhinha, with GoalPoint Rating from 6.4, the result of two shots, one at the post, four right progressive passes, four recoveries of possession and three offensive aerial duels won (100%).
- Rio Ave came in better in the second half, due to the intensity put on the field by the recently launched Carlos Mané. But the goal came from the other side. At 63 minutes, Paulinho stopped in the chest still outside the area and got a fantastic kick for a great goal, the best time of the night.
- At 65 minutes, despite the reaction of the home team, Sporting continued to be the owner and master of the game, now with two goals ahead. Possession was less pronounced, but in overall terms it remained at 52%, and at the end it was at 13, and already with 30 ball actions in the opposite area. Also in the corners, there was total superiority, with eight, only one for the hosts.
- Looking only at the numbers of the second half, at the 75th minute Rio Ave had 58% of possession, three shots, none framed, the “lion” five shots, one with good direction, that gave goal. By air it was (almost) everything from Sporting especially in defensive duels, with 70% of them won.
- O Rio Ave tried well, but showed why he only scored two goals in the last eight games. Team with the ability to have the ball, to circulate it, but totally insipient in offensive terms, so Sporting, the best defense in the league, didn’t have any difficulty maintaining their inviolate goal until the end.
The best in the field GoalPoint
Has Paulinho’s release from the pressure of scoring arrived? We don’t know, but the truth is that the Sporting striker scored a flag goal from outside the box, demonstrating an above-average shooting technique.
The ex-Braga’s goal was his second with the “lion” jersey and contributed decisively to being elected the best in the field, with a GoalPoint Rating from 7.2.
Paulinho made two shots, one framed, and worked hard, adding five ball actions in the opposite area, two complete dribbles in three attempts, both in the last third, and won two out of five offensive aerial duels.
- João Palhinha 7.1 – Another huge game of Palhinha. The defensive midfielder was again dominant, with a shot at the post, 84% pass effectiveness, seven possession recoveries, four tackles, three interceptions and three offensive aerial duels won in four.
- Pedro Gonçalves 6.8 – Good game of “Pot”, always very active in his role as “tramp” in front of attack. In addition to the goal he scored, if he took a penalty, he framed two of three shots, made three passes to finish and added the maximum number of actions with the ball in the opposite area, no less than seven. The blatant missed occasion affects his final grade.
- Fábio Coentrão 6.2 – The veteran left-back is in good shape and, against one of his old teams, he was the best on the field on the Vila-Condense side. Coentrão made two passes for submission, eight straight progressive passes, won two out of four defensive aerial duels, regained possession eight times and made three interceptions.
- Sebastián Coates 6.1 – A pendulum, as it has always been. Like Palhinha, the central hit the post once, won two of four defensive aerial duels and made four clearances and three tackles.
- Matheus Nunes 5.9 – The midfielder entered the second half, at a time when Rio Ave was gaining superiority in the midfield and was approaching the Leon goal with some danger. The truth is that, from then on, the home team continued with the ball, but never again caused chills. Matheus completed ten of the 11 passes he made, added four actions with the ball in the opposite area and recorded six recoveries of possession.
- Gonçalo Inácio 5.8 – Competent return of the young center, who recovered possession seven times, added three defensive actions in the opposite midfield and three interceptions.