Boavista FC's slim hopes of progress from UEFA Champions League Group A have disappeared.
FC Nantes Atlantique 1-1 Boavista FC
Boavista FC's faint hopes of progress from Group A foundered in a 1-1 draw at FC Nantes Atlantique, although the efforts of substitutes Martelinho and Erwin Sánchez very nearly rescued Jaime Pacheco's side.
Trailing 1-0 to Viorel Moldovan's 43rd-minute goal, Martelinho came on at the beginning of the second period and, 12 minutes from time, he drew the Portuguese champions level. Cue some frantic goalmouth action as Boavista pressed forward seeking the second goal that would have lifted them within two points of Manchester United FC and FC Bayern München at the top of the group. Instead their failure to claim a single road win in this season's UEFA Champions League sealed their demise, leaving Boavista four points off the top with just one game to play.
Nantes, whose own elimination was confirmed a fortnight ago, rested several regulars - notably Nestor Fabbri, missing his first Champions League match this season - with an important league match at the weekend in mind. The result was a tepid opening half hour.
Only as half-time loomed, and this without either side attaining any real fluency, did the spectacle begin to improve. After 37 minutes the linesman's flag, waved for offside, spared the blushes of Pierre-Yves André when he turned Olivier Quint's cross-shot, from a neat Moldovan lay-off, into Ricardo's arms with the goal at his mercy. Quint's excursions down the left were one of the better features of the half. Two minutes later, meanwhile, Alexandre Goulart flashed a shot across the face of goal at the other end, after Mickäel Landreau could only flap at the ball following a Boavista corner.
Now we had some action and, on 43 minutes, Moldovan, back in the Nantes side after missing the Matchday Ten defeat in Manchester, broke the deadlock with his second European goal of the season. As befitted a half short on inspiration, the goal followed a mistake in Boavista's defence. Jorge Silva's clearance rebounded off team-mate Pedro Emanuel and into the path of the Romanian who shrugged Silva aside before carrying the ball into the box where he shot, via Ricardo's despairing hand, into the net.
Vahirua comes on
The second half nearly opened with a bang. Patrick Vahirua, a Nantes substitute, finding space in the Boavista box and testing Ricardo with a low drive. After André had twice tested the netting around Ricardo's goal, however, Boavista, prompted by Sánchez, gradually gained the upper hand.
On the hour, Petit carried the ball into the Nantes area and a deflection set up Sánchez to sting Landreau's fingertips with a fierce strike. The final 15 minutes brought more of the same. An opportunity went begging when Sánchez and Martelinho produced a neat combination inside the opposition box but failed to get in a shot.
No such mistake three minutes later, however, when Martelinho latched on to a long pass from Petit to score. Ateba Biliyi's failure to challenge left him with just Landreau to beat, which he did with a finish that, if lacking power, crept neatly inside the far post. It was so nearly two after 80 minutes when Martelinho raced through on to a Sánchez pass. He stumbled under a defender's challenge only for Márcio to put the loose ball into the empty net. However, it was neither a goal nor a penalty, only offside.
Miss of the match
As Boavista tore forward in search of a winner, Frédéric da Rocha should have sealed it for Nantes on the counter. Instead he side-footed his shot wide of a gaping goal after Vahirua, who had raced clean through, had unselfishly played him in.
Duda so close
It could still have been Boavista's night. Duda beat Landreau to a long ball and, from a tight angle, rolled a shot across the goalline, agonisingly beyond the reach of Márcio. Then, in injury time, from a Petit cross, Duda was free to volley goalwards but connected only with thin air.