ISAAC HEATH - Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Freddy Adu's debut with Belenenses was spoiled as he was unable to spark any late fireworks in a substitute role against their hosts Rio Ave in the Group E opener of the Portuguese League Cup.
The young American, seeing his first action for the Lisbon-based club since his loan from Benfica, had a promising showing as his 64th minute entrance into the game at left midfield helped create a plethora of dangerous opportunities for his teammates.
Momentum was going the visiting team's way for much of the first half before Chidi stunned Belenenses with a goal against the run of play just before the halftime whistle. Evandro hit a well struck shot that was blocked by a diving Mourtala Diakité, permitting Chidi to pound home the rebound for Rio Ave giving them a 1-0 lead in the 45th minute.
Belenenses had several chances to level the score in the second half, with three of the best opportunities being set up by Adu. Yonchta failed to convert a clever pass from Adu in the 66th minute, and then Lima launched a well placed Adu cross over the net just 10 minutes later.
The youngster served up another quality cross in the 84th minute that bounced around dangerously in front of the Rio Ave net, but neither Lima nor Mano could take advantage of the opportunity for a late equalizer.
The round-robin format of the Portuguese League Cup will see Belenenses host Second Division club Gil Vicente in late October, needing a win to harbor any hope of winning Group E and passing to the later rounds of the competition.
Adu will hope his good play will earn him more playing time with Belenenses much sooner, however, when they take on Nacional in league play this weekend.