Boavista FC went to the top of UEFA Champions League Group A with a narrow victory over FC Nantes Atlantique, Erwin Sánchez's fortuitous first-half strike the crucial difference between the two sides at the Bessa stadium.
Two points clear
FC Bayern München's 1-1 draw with Manchester United FC in Munich leaves the Portuguese champions two points clear at the top of the group. All is not lost for Nantes who may be bottom after this first game but are only a point off United and Bayern.
Both sides fire blanks
In a first half littered with niggling little fouls, there was little of note beside the goal itself. Indeed, neither side actually got a shot on target, Boavista directing an early effort wide, as much of the play broke down disappointingly in midfield.
Sánchez's stroke of luck
Bolivian international Sánchez, the Boavista captain, could hardly believe his luck when he conjured the 24th-minute winner out of nowhere. A long throw into the box was headed on by Elpídio Pereira towards Sánchez who was lurking unmarked on the edge of the penalty area. He hit the ball on the volley towards the goal and although Mickaël Landreau, the Nantes goalkeeper and captain, appeared to have the shot covered, the ball kicked up viciously off the ground just in front of the diving French international.
Crept inside the post
Landreau managed to push the ball away, but as it ran back across the goalmouth the spin on the ball was such that it rolled backwards and crept into the goal just inside the far post. It was one of the stranger and more fortunate Champions League goals. It did, however, prove sufficient to give Boavista all three points.
The rest of the tie was characterised by a high volume of fouls, with 49 committed in total - 27 by Nantes and 22 by Boavista. Nantes' best chance of an equaliser came from Frédéric da Rocha in the 55th minute. His searing 35-metre shot was heading just inside Ricardo Soares' post. The Portuguese stopper was alert to the danger, however, and flung himself to his left to make a fingertip save and push the ball round the post.
Pereira fails to capitalise
Pereira could have wrapped the tie up in the 92nd minute when, after a mistake in the Nantes defence, the ball broke to him three metres out. He struck the ball well but Landreau somehow kept it out. Despite diving the wrong way to make the save, Landreau's trailing legs diverted the ball round the post to keep the scoreline locked at 1-0.
Neither side impressed with this performance and both will need to improve ahead of 5 December. Nantes host Bayern on that date, while Boavista travel to Manchester to face the English champions. Both Bayern and United will be keen to take three points off this less-fancied pair so Matchday Eight should prove a sterner test of both sides' Champions League credentials.
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