Michael and Brian Laudrup. Frank and Ronald deBoer. Niko and Robert Kovac. Romelu and Jordan Lukaku. Gary and Phil Neville. Eden and Thorgan Hazard. Ronald and Erwin Koeman. Aleksey and Vasili Berezutski. Jack and Bobby Charlton. Anyway, the streets of Almada may never have seen these brothers all drawing some silent and bloody science fiction, but there was a duo that didn’t lose sight of. André and Ricardo, the Hortas, shouted at each other, perhaps as they developed in childhood. The ball was an accomplice. The triangle closed: Ricardo’s sublime pass, André had aimed for it, then went around Vlachodimos and did the least difficult: goal for the empty goal, 2-0. The game would live in a feverish, festive and wild state, and would end 3-2 for the Minho.
The ball chose to spend more time visiting the boots of the men who came from afar, despite the discomfort that would be increasing. But those in the house, guided by Carlos Carvalhal, were organized, stealing space between the ideas of Rafa (freedom, the great unbalancer) and Gonçalo Ramos (a good game linker). Usually in 5-3-2, Sp. Braga was in 4-4-2 many times when Benfica tried (and managed many times, at the beginning) to start the move, it was Rodrigo Gomes who made this game of decisions, working between the 4 and 5 line. with David Carmo making good decisions and executing well – with those always available to touch André Horta, the lighthouse Al Musrati, Ricardo Horta, Iuri Medeiros and Abel Ruiz –, it was the most enlightened team, with a more fluid touch of the ball. That is, I found more solutions.
The first good move of Nélson Veríssimo’s team does not fail to define it. Rafa, dwelling in the midfield whitewash line, with his back, waited, received and at the same time turned to the game with a wonderful rotation. And he sped up, left behind the occasional professional colleague who wears another uniform, and played, to the right, for Yaremchuk. The Ukrainian, tempted to cross, chose to hit the nearest post, provoking a good save from Matheus. Benfica, who won in the last six trips to Pedreira, would thus live more from one or another individual attack than from a collective idea. They don’t all speak the same language.
Braga’s attack was conspiring against Vlachodimos’ goal, usually with more concrete, quick exits, without great hesitations as the times are not for that. Yuri was gaining preponderance. Horta, Ricardo, designed an adventure van bastiana and serene. Ruiz was making Vertonghen worried. Rodrigo Gomes, on the left, was showing good things. In the middle, VAR ruled out a goal by Jan Vertonghen for handball after an Everton corner.
And the home boys scored. Iuri Medeiros, with his left hand, hit a free-kick straight to the goalkeeper’s side, with the ball flying not far from the grass, and showed the world a facet that is not for everyone. The footballer trained at Sporting has, according to Playmaker do Zerozero, Benfica as the main victim (6) and, in this way, from a direct free-kick, he had even done it against this rival, for Boavista, a handful of years ago.
Uncomfortable and without great answers at the front, Veríssimo threw João Mário at half-time, perhaps to tickle Weigl’s soul, and Darwin Núñez, who first glued himself to the left and then answered the number on his back. Carvalhal threw in Vitinha, a young forward, boring and goalscorer. Shortly after, Medeiros would leave, played by Yan Couto.
The brothers’ goal came just over half an hour to the end, it was 2-0. And from there the game became unpredictable. Then came Seferovic, Paulo Bernardo and Diogo Gonçalves. A little earlier, Vitinha had threatened the 3-0, shot with his left foot, Vlachodimos’ legs blocked that beginning of scandal. Benfica, already with Weigl as centre-back, was not there, despite living more calmly when João Mário participated.
The visitors, dressed as someone who is not Benfica, reduced the penalty, after André Horta’s hand. Darwin, confirming that the goals are with him, took over and hit well. Three minutes later, after Seferovic’s crossing, Darwin, generous and confirming that he also knows how to offer rollheaded for the far post and João Mário left everything tied, 2-2. The Sp. Braga suffered with the name of the rival, with the intention, with the weight in front that was felt and was slightly lost.
But the more than 16,000 fans at Pedreira, some lamenting the recovery (they would celebrate the debut of 19-year-old Bernardo Couto), others dreaming of a somersault on the scoreboard, were entitled to another goal. After a corner, Musrati did what wasn’t in the script and, with his left-hander, offered a bonbon of glory and cloud candy to Vitinha, who signed the 3-2 that would put Sp. Braga to nine points of the rival. Benfica would insist until the end, but would lose again in the 10th game.
Now, after a physically and mentally exhausting game, recovery of the legs and spirit follows. After all, important matches with Liverpool and Rangers follow for another demanding European journey.