RECAP: WEEKEND PORTUGUESE ACTION
Oguchi Onyewu and Sporting continued their league struggles while Tony Taylor and Caleb Patterson-Sewell each picked up points a division below.
CS Marítimo 2-0 Sporting CP
With Gooch back in the lineup after serving his red card suspension Sporting dropped a disappointing decision against Europa League challengers Marítimo.
After defeating Nacional in the Portuguese Cup semifinals on Wednesday, the Lisbon giants were hoping for another positive result in their second game of the week on the Atlantic island of Madeira, but goals from Selim Benachour and Danilo Dias condemned them to defeat.
The hosts opened the scoring in the 21st minute when Benachour hit a long drive following a headed clearance by Onyewu.
Rui Patricio, who made several strong saves throughout the game, was screened by his defense and did not have sufficient reaction time for an effective save.
Instead, the Portuguese international ‘keeper could only push the Frenchman's shot into the air behind him and watch it come down into the net.
Domingos Paciencia tried to change Sporting's fortunes by replacing Bruno Pereirinha and Andre Carrillo with Stijn Schaars and Marat Izmailov at halftime, but the substitutions could not reverse the scoreline.
In the 60th minute the Sporting defense contrived to leave Danilo alone in front of the net and the Brazilian midfielder tucked his shot past Rui Patricio to double Marítimo's lead.
Despite controlling possession for the remainder of the game, Sporting could not find the net.
It was the first time Onyewu started alongside Xandão, who transferred from São Paulo in January. While the two form what is likely the tallest centerback duo in Portugal, the performance will leave Paciencia wondering if they are truly his best combination.
Gooch picked up a yellow card one minute before the opening goal for a tackle on Heldon just outside the box, and was also out of position on the second goal.
The three points mean Marítimo has drawn level with Sporting for fourth place and Portugal's final Europa League spot.
It also means Sporting still has not won a league game on the road since the day before Halloween.
The Lions will try to get back on track on 2/19 against Paços de Ferreira.
Portimonense SC 0-2 GD Estoril Praia
Tony Taylor came on in the 65th minute to help Estoril strengthen their grip on the Liga Orangina's top spot with an away win against Portimonense.
For the promotion chasing Canarinhos it was their sixth consecutive road victory and moved them seven points clear of their nearest challenger.
The hosts actually enjoyed greater possession and created several clear scoring opportunities, but were let down by poor finishing.
Estoril on the other hand took advantage of limited chances to grab all three points.
Licá opened the scoring for the visitors in the 17th minute after cutting inside from the corner of the box and then curling his shot into the far side netting.
It was his league leading 10th goal of the season.
Brazilian attacker Fabrício iced the game in stoppage time with an easy tap in after being set up by Diogo Amado on a three on one breakaway.
Taylor entered for Guinean forward Gerso Fernandes with 25 minutes remaining, perhaps a sign that he will return to his 2011 role as Estoril's primary attacking sub.
The first place team will be at home against Freamunde on 2/18.
Atlético CP 0-0 CD Santa Clara
In other Liga Orangina action Caleb Patterson-Sewell picked up another shutout as Atlético and Santa Clara played out a scoreless tie in Lisbon.
João de Deus has had to shuffle his lineup significantly in recent weeks after the suspension of captain João Meira and the departure of several key contributors in the winter transfer window, including Tony Taylor.
But Patterson-Sewell continues to be a mainstay in net, earning his ninth clean sheet of the season.
The hosts controlled the first half but could not find the opener, while Santa Clara enjoyed the better of the second period and pinned Atlético in Patterson-Sewell's half of the field to no avail.
The tie keeps Atlético in fifth place.
They will travel to struggling Trofense on 2/19.