Loan watch: First starts for Felipe Anderson and Xande Silva
Three West Ham United loanees were in action over the weekend, with two of them – attackers Felipe Anderson and Xande Silva – making their first starts for their adopted clubs.
For the Brazilian winger Anderson, who joined FC Porto on loan until the end of the season last month, there was a chance to impress from the start as the Dragões travelled to Campeonato de Portugal outfit GD Fabril to begin their defence of the Portuguese Cup.
Starting on the left, much of the early attacking momentum came down Anderson’s flank as Porto’s No28 linked up well with his teammates to set up opportunities for Mehdi Taremi and former Hammer, Toni Martinez.
The defending champions understandably dominated against the third-tier side but when their breakthrough finally arrived on the stroke of half-time, it did so in spectacular fashion: a stunning bicycle kick from Martinez.
Five minutes into the second half, Anderson registered his first assist in a blue and white shirt after showing good control to bring down a bouncing ball and play in Taremi, who blasted the ball through the keeper's gloves.
The Brazilian was withdrawn soon after but could be satisfied with his side’s afternoon's work, a comfortable 2-0 win seeing them safely into round four of Taça de Portugal.
Following an impressive debut off the bench prior to the international break, 23-year-old forward Xande Silva was handed his first start for Aris Thessaloniki FC, who maintained their sensational run of form to see off Panetolikos 1-0 on Sunday afternoon.
Deployed on the left wing, Silva made plenty of early running and provided the through-pass which saw Dimitri Manos barged over inside the penalty area after a quarter-of-an-hour; Bruno Gama stepped up to the mark and duly converted.
The visitors – and Manos in particular – enjoyed plenty of chances to stretch their lead, but were forced to settle for a 1-0 win at Panetolikos Stadium.
The victory means that Aris continue to lead the way in Super League Greece this season, sitting level on points with Olympiakos after six wins from seven games played.
Finally, Winston Reid and Sporting Kansas City endured a dramatic Sunday night in the 2020 MLS Playoffs, but came out on top on penalties following a 3-3 draw with San Jose Earthquakes.
Having helped his side finish in top spot in the Western Conference, New Zealand defender Reid started the quarter-final match for Sporting and saw his side get off to a bright start with a fourth-minute near-post header from Roger Espinoza.
The Quakes caused some tremors at a sunny Children’s Mercy Park, however, as two close-range goals from Carlos Fierro and Shea Salinas saw them take the lead prior to half-time.
Sporting equalised within two minutes of the restart from a corner flicked home by Ilie Sanchez, with Reid’s close attentions at the back post ensuring that the ball eventually crossed the goal-line.
The home team pushed forwards and must have thought they’d clinched progression when Ginaluca Busio blasted home following a neat flick to put Sporting back in front in the first minute of injury time.
But San Jose refused to lie down, and equalised in remarkable fashion through Chris Wondolowski’s header, which arrived in the seventh minute of additional time at the end of the match.
After a goalless 30 minutes of extra-time, Sporting keeper Tim Melia was in imperious form during the penalty shootout, stopping all three of the visitors’ attempts to see his side through 3-0 on spot-kicks.
Reid and Sporting will now host fourth seeds Minnesota United FC in the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs on either Tuesday 1 or Wednesday 2 December.