RYAN GAULD suffered a weekend of disappointment after being axed from the first-team squad at Sporting Lisbon and seeing his hopes of marking his first season in Portugal with a championship title suffer a hammer blow.

The 19-year-old played almost half-an-hour of Sporting's 2-0 Primeira Liga win over Gil Vicente last weekend after coming off the substitutes' bench and had been hoping for some involvement in their biggest match of the campaign so far away to FC Porto.

However, he was left out of the 21-man panel for this evening's trip to the Estadio do Dragao and spent his Sunday afternoon playing for the B team in front of less than 1000 people in a goalless draw with little-known SC Freamunde in the Segunda Liga.

The former Dundee United midfielder picked up a yellow card during the 90 minutes in the northern municipality of Pacos de Ferreira and later saw the first-team slump to a costly and wholly deserved 3-0 defeat, carved out by an excellent Cristian Tello hat-trick, in nearby Oporto.

Sporting now lie a distant third in the Primeira Liga table, eight points behind second-placed Porto with 12 separating them from the leaders, Benfica, after 23 games.

Sporting started the match reasonably well against a backdrop of relentless rain with Joao Mario putting an effort wide from a good position inside the area after just 14 minutes, but Porto began to exert a stranglehold on proceedings around the midway point of the opening period.

Jackson Martinez flashed a shot just wide a couple of minutes later and Yacine Brahimi, a rumoured target for Manchester City, forced a save from Rui Patricio before Hector Herrera put a great chance over the crossbar from inside the area after doing well to create space.

Sporting finally buckled in the 31st minute. Martinez produced a magnificent piece of skill when chesting the ball down with his back to the opposition goal and backheeling it over the top of a static defence.

Tello, on loan from Barcelona, sprung the offside trap and raced clear before sidefooting the ball past Patricio from 12 yards.

Martinez and Tello linked up again on 58 minutes to put the game beyond the reach of a Sporting side looking progressively more disheartened and overrun. Martinez played a beautiful pass through the heart of the rearguard and Tello took a touch before rifling a delightful effort to Patricio's left and into the roof of the net.

The Spanish forward completed the scoring with seven minutes to play when catching the Sporting defence sleeping again and sliding home a cool finish after moving onto an incisive pass from Herrera.

Gauld had described the match as a "must-win" affair for Sporting in an exclusive interview with Herald Sport last week and the sight of his side's title aspirations almost certainly disappearing over the horizon amid such an impotent and inadequate display will have been hard to take in the wake of his demotion back to the B team.

However, the Scotland Under-21 internationalist accepts, despite having been drafted into Sporting's Europa League squad for their midweek aggregate defeat to German side Wolfsburg, that he is in an "in-between stage", trying to make his progression from the reserves to the A team a permanent arrangement.

And he remains philosophical when addressing the decision of his head coach, Marco Silva, to continue fielding him with the B side when he feels it is in his best interests.

"Lately, I have been more involved with the A team," said Gauld. "However, if I am not needed for one of the games, I can still go and play with the B team to get minutes under my belt. The most important thing is that I am not just sitting rotting away.

"The good thing from being at such a big club is that the B squad exists. You are always going to be playing no matter what. Being involved with the first-team a wee bit more lately shows that I am making good progress and I just hope that I can keep that up."

Gauld remains of the firm opinion that he is developing well as a player in the more technical world of Portuguese football and has revealed that he would be happy to remain there for at least the remainder of his six-year contract, which contains an incredible €60m buy-out clause, despite having only made two substitute appearances in the Primeira Liga so far along with a handful of outings in the cup.

"I have settled really well and I am just looking forward to staying here for the rest of my contract," he said. "I have not got any desires to go anywhere. I would be more than happy to see out the whole of my contract. Who knows what can happen then?"

BT Sport shows multiple live games from Portugal's Primeira Liga every week as part of a European football line-up including UEFA Europa League, Germany's Bundesliga, France's Ligue 1 and Italy's Serie A.