A goal by Ghilas, 87 minutes in, allowed FC Porto to beat Estoril by 2-1 and move on to the semi-finals of the Portuguese Cup, where they will be facing Benfica. After a bad first-half, which ended tied (1-1), the Dragons completely dominated the opponent – Estoril is fifth in the League table and is known as a dangerous opponent in away games – in the second-half, reaching the goal when extra time was in the horizon.
Considering the predictable inclusion of Fabiano in the starting team – the usual “owner” of the white and blue goal for the cup games –, the biggest news ended up being Mexican, for two reasons. Reyes and Herrera started the match, as did Licá, who took the spot that belonged to Varela in the game against Marítimo, last Saturday. Herrera ended up being one of the men of the match, especially in the second-half, as he showed plenty of stamina, speed and ability to find space.
As expected, Estoril came in with a well-populated midfield and three speedsters on the offence: Balboa, Sebá and Carlitos. Adopting a strategy of counter-attack, the visitors had the best goal situations in the first-half, whereas the Dragons only dominated in the first 15 minutes. The rest of the time, the white and blue football always seemed disconnected.
27 minutes in, on the second occasion where a visiting player was alone in front of goal – the first one was Sebá, 20 minutes in – the first goal was scored, with Babanco with a volley over Fabiano. By then, Carlos Eduardo had already been forced to be replaced by Josué, due to injury.
With effort, FC Porto did reach the tie before the half-time break. Quaresma pushed the ball in, 43 minutes in, but what should be highlighted is the combination between Herrera and Jackson, and the tackle for penalty by Gonçalo on the Colombian striker, who couldn’t reach the ball. The tackle should have been awarded a card (yellow, at the very least).
The second-half was quite different, as Estoril didn’t have the same capacity for the counter-attack and FC Porto was more aggressive and dominating, moving up a couple of meters. There is no record of any clear situation for the team from Cascais, who started thinking of extra time too soon. Danilo – tireless on his wing – was the first to shoot for goal, 56 minutes in, but the first great opportunity for the Dragons to score the second goal belonged to Jackson, who beat Vagner in the air, 69 minutes in, but the ball went outside the post.
The pressure and the belief remained intense – there were times of deep suffocation on the opposing box, with cross after cross –, but the goal only came when Paulo Fonseca sent in a second striker, Ghilas. After the hundredth cross from the left, the Algerian striker deflected the ball to the far post, following a cross by Alex Sandro, and beat the wall Estoril built. The road to the Cup final now has a double stop on the way, with the games opposing Benfica scheduled for March 26th and April 16th.