RECAP: WEEKEND PORTUGUESE ACTION
Oguchi Onyewu marshaled Sporting's defense as they continued to climb the standings with a convincing win, while Tony Taylor and Caleb Patterson-Sewell both put in 90 minute shifts in Atlético's first loss of the season.
Sporting CP 3-0 Vitória Setúbal
For the second consecutive week Sporting were unstoppable in the opening stages, taking a two goal lead by the seventh minute with strikes from Dutch attackers Stijn Schaars and Ricky van Wolfswinkel.
But unlike their victory last week, which needed a late Onyewu goal after letting Rio Ave climb level, the Lisbon giants were able to put Setúbal away and dominate the entire game.
A second tally from van Wolfswinkel in the 15th minute gave the hosts a 3-0 lead at the break, but Sporting did not take their foot off the gas in the second half, playing energetic, attacking soccer throughout.
Only a string of outstanding saves by Setúbal's Brazilian goalie, Diego, kept the score from getting out of hand.
Gooch played an effective 90 minutes, solidifying his starting position after spending the first half paired with Alberto Rodriguez and the second half with Anderson Polga who replaced the Peruvian.
The Washington DC native also picked up a yellow card in the 75th minute, his second in as many games.
It was clearly the Lions' best performance of the year, and it will give the Sporting faithful hope that they might finally be able to compete with Porto and Benfica, who have dominated the league for several years.
Those two, along with Braga, are currently in a three-way tie for first place, but Sporting's recent run of form has moved them into fourth, just three points back.
Domingos Paciencia's men will face a decidedly stiffer test on Thursday when Lazio make the trip from Rome for a Europa League matchup.
Arouca 2-0 Atlético CP
Atlético could not avoid defeat for the fifth consecutive week, as the Liga Orangina leaders crashed 2-0 on the road at Arouca.
The hosts were up 1-0 at the half thanks to a 9th minute goal by Brazilian veteran Roberto, who finished off a nice sequence to beat Patterson-Sewell for just the second time all season.
Atlético had the better of the second half exchanges, especially after substitutes Tiago Caiero and Zezinho joined Taylor in the attack, but they were unable to get on the scoreboard.
Arouca iced the game with a stoppage time goal by Joeano, who had replaced his compatriot Roberto in the 65th minute.
Despite the defeat Atlético remain tied for first place with Leixões.
Taylor and Patteron-Sewell will look to begin a new winning streak at home against Naval on 10/1.