NICK LEYDEN - Monday, May 7, 2012
Oguchi Onyewu was sent off in what will be his final league game this season, while Tony Taylor started in a promotion clinching victory for Estoril.
FC Porto 2 - 0 Sporting CP
Sporting came into the game knowing that a win would keep alive their hope of finishing in third place and earning Portugal's final Champion's League spot.
But the northerners, whose entire roster entered the Estádio do Dragão with hair and beards dyed blue, were anxious to kickoff their own championship celebrations for the eighth time in the past ten years.
Onyewu started in the center of Sporting's defense alongside Anderson Polga, though both would see Pedro Proença's red card in what would prove to be a disappointing second half for the Lisbon team.
Sporting started brightly, threatening Helton's goal within the opening minutes. Though with the exception of the occasional Daniel Carrillo attack, Porto proved to be the more dangerous team throughout the first half including a 43rd minute attack which culminated with Gooch possibly blocking Varela's shot with his arm.
The second half played out in much the same pattern with Sporting creating the early danger but the hosts finishing with their foot on the gas.
Polga nearly opened the scoring in the 51st minute with a bomb that struck the woodwork, but Sporting's night would soon become even more frustrating.
In the 65th minute Onyewu was shown a yellow card for clipping Hulk's heels just outside of the box as the Brazilian was pulling away.
Combined with his 21st minute yellow for a soft foul on João Moutinho the Washington D.C. native was banished to the locker room despite making minimal contact on both fouls.
Sporting survived the ensuing onslaught until the 82nd minute.
Hulk raced onto a long ball down the left flank before cutting it back to Marc Jancko. The Austrian striker's one-timer was well saved by Rui Patricio but the rebound fell to an unmarked James Rodriguez in the center of the box.
In a desperate lunge Polga took out Rodriguez, earning both a direct red card and a penalty kick.
Hulk tallied the resulting spot kick, and also added a second in the 89th minute on the smoothest of breakaways against a defense that was lacking both central defenders.
The result guarantees that Sporting will finish fourth, as they are six points behind Braga, who will visit Sporting on the season's final weekend. The Lions' two archrivals, Porto and Benfica, are also guaranteed to finish first and second respectively.
Gooch will miss the final matchup with Braga due to his expulsion, though he can look forward to the final of the Portuguese Cup on May 20.
Leixões SC 0 - 1 GD Estoril Praia
Estoril's 1-0 victory away to Leixões guaranteed that Tony Taylor and Os Canarinhos would be Liga Orangina champions.
Their 56 points is five more than nearest challenger, Moreirense, with only a single game remaining for both teams.
Taylor continued his recent role as a starting striker alongside Licá and was replaced by Carlos Eduardo in the 69th minute.
The promotion sealing tally was actually a 79th minute own goal by Brazilian defender Marcelo, but for the Estoril faithful it was the most beautiful goal since their last promotion to the top flight in 2003-2004.
Estoril was immediately relegated back to the second division a year later in 2005, but from club president Tiago Ribeiro to the players themselves everyone at the Traffic Sports operated club believes their stay alongside Sporting, Benfica and Porto will last considerably longer this time.
Os Canarinhos will take on Arouca on Sunday in the final game of the season in what will surely be a celebration to remember at the Estádio Coimbra da Mota.
Atlético CP 1 - 1 CF União da Madeira
For the seventh consecutive game Caleb Patterson-Sewell and Atlético were held without a win, despite playing the entire second half with a man advantage.
The Lisbon club are, however, guaranteed to finish in the middle of the Liga Orangina pack so the result will not have a tremendous impact on the standings.
Leandro Pimenta opened the scoring for Atlético in the 19th minute, pouncing on a defensive mistake and beating União's British goalkeeper Matt Jones, who played collegiately at Sacred Heart University.
The visitors plight was further complicated in the 45th minute when Brazilian winger Alexsandro was shown his second yellow card.
Despite the numerical advantage Atlético were unable to put away União, and the team from Madeira equalized through substitute Nuno Silva in the 72nd minute.
Patterson-Sewell will complete his first Portuguese season on Sunday against Oliveirense.