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Photo by José Lorvão

3-3 draw with Rio Ave FC

By Sporting CP
26 Feb, 2024

A back-and-forth game ends with the spoils shared

Sporting Clube de Portugal drew 3-3 with Rio Ave FC in a Sunday night showdown on Matchday 23 in Liga Portugal. Sebastián Coates scored the equaliser for the team, who had previously overcome a deficit to go ahead through Morten Hjulmand and Viktor Gyökeres. 

Facing a team in an uncomfortable 16th place, Rúben Amorim made five changes to the Sporting CP starting XI. Coates, Geny Catamo, Nuno Santos, Hidemasa Morita and Pedro Gonçalves all came in while Eduardo Quaresma, Ricardo Esgaio, Matheus Reis, Daniel Bragança and Marcus Edwards were on the bench – striker Paulinho continued to be an absentee due to injury.

Vila do Conde's Estádio dos Arcos was a daunting place to go. Rio Ave FC hadn't lost in six games at home, since October of last year, and had only conceded three goals in those matches.

Three minutes into the game, the forecast rain and wind arrived, bringing with it a Rio Ave FC goal. From the first attack of the match, a long pass to the left was followed up by Umaro Embaló cutting inside, sending a shot into the net. The disadvantage did not last more than six minutes, however, as off a corner kick, Morten Hjulmand appeared in the area to strike low and restore parity.

A double opportunity to score came shortly after, but Rio Ave's Jhonatan denied Viktor Gyökeres off his hit from outside the area and, on the rebound, he did the same to Francisco Trincão. After the 20th minute, Gyökeres once again aimed for goal, but without success.

Rio Ave FC not only survived this tough phase but also responded with danger. First, with Embaló shooting over the bar when Adán was still getting into position, then Fábio Ronaldo hitting the post off a fast attack.

In a crazy end to the first half, a poor backpass was latched onto for Gyökeres to score his 30th goal for the club -and the team's 100th in 2023/2024. On the next move, in stoppage time, Yakubu Aziz converted a penalty given due to a foul by Nuno Santos.

In between the goals, Trincão was injured, being replaced by Marcus Edwards. At halftime, Amorim made another change by introducing Eduardo Quaresma for Gonçalo Inácio – Diomande occupying the centre back spot on the left.

Upon the restart, Sporting CP's intentions became clear. Miguel Nóbrega needed to cut out a clinical pass by Gyökeres for Edwards in the best opportunity early on. After an hour of play, Gonçalves went down in the area, with the penalty appeal ignored, and Amorim made further substitutions, introducing Matheus Reis for Nuno Santos.

A penalty was given against Sporting CP, as Adán committed a foul in the box. Aziz converted to put Rio Ave FC ahead for the second time.

Sporting CP's reaction was not long in coming, captain Coates appearing when he was most needed. Gonçalves crossed into the area and the Uruguayan central defender rose highest to head in, making it 3-3. He then stayed up front with Gyökeres for the closing quarter-hour. They looked for a winning goal until the end, but both Edwards and Gonçalves shot well over. There was a late sending off for Rio Ave's Pantalon, but no change on the scoresheet.

With this draw in Vila do Conde, Sporting CP were unable to take advantage of FC Porto's own draw in Barcelos and are now in second place with 56 points, two behind SL Benfica. Their local rivals are their next opponents, but in the Taça de Portugal semifinals on Thursday.

Sporting CP: Antonio Adán [GR], Geny Catamo, Ousmane Diomande, Sebastián Coates [C], Gonçalo Inácio, Nuno Santos (Matheus Reis, 61'), Morten Hjulmand, Hidemasa Morita, Francisco Trincão (Marcus Edwards, 44'), Pedro Gonçalves, Viktor Gyökeres.