Cup action

news: Cup action

Last week saw the quarter finals of the Portuguese Cup. The only non-Superliga representatives remaining in the competition, Estrela de Amadora, overcame Belenenses in a nail-biting encounter that put the Liga de Honra side into the semis. No goals were scored during normal or extra time and penalties were needed to decide the issue on a freezing night in Amadora. With the score at 8-7 to the home side, it fell to veteran Belenenses defender, Wilson, to become the first main to fail, goalkeeper Paulo handing his team victory by the most slender of margins.

Boavista, away to Marítimo, enjoyed an easier passage. Milhazes established an early advantage after only three minutes, and the home team chases a lost cause with the dismissal of two players after 36 and 65 minutes. Zé Manuel then made it 2-0 with the last attack of the game to see the Porto club safely into the last four.

More dramatic was the duel between Vitória de Setúbal and high-flying Sporting Braga. Bruno Moraes surprised the visitors with a goal after only 15 minutes, and his striking partner Meyong doubled Setúbal’s advantage only minutes after the restart. But Braga came back strongly with first João Tomás and then Wender restoring parity. The game seemed to be heading for extra time when substitute Igor struck with only three minutes remaining on the clock to send the home side through to the next round.

The only remaining “Big Three” side, Benfica, were drawn at home against crisis club Beira-Mar who, nevertheless, enjoy a giant-killing reputation. João Pereira was put through by a great Nuno Gomes’ ball after 28 minutes and put the Eagles one up. The freezing conditions seemed to paralyse all concerned thereafter and a disappointing remainder of the game ensued that often saw the ball being passed around endlessly without a hint of danger to either goal.

Elsewhere, too, cup action was the order of the day. In England, four premiership clubs reached the F.A. Cup quarter finals after replays against lesser opposition.Southampton overcame a spirited Brentford 3-1 to earn a home tie against Manchester United and Blackburn beat local rivals Burnley 2-1, Leicester providing the next round opposition. Sheffield United took a young Arsenal side all the way to the wire, but then lost out 2-4 on penalties. The Gunners now travel to Bolton. Lastly, Nottingham Forest held out a further 45 minutes against Tottenham at the City Ground before the London club struck three times in the second half. Spurs now continue their quest for more Cup glory at Newcastle.

The French competition has also reached the quarter final stage, with some notable casualties. Runaway league leaders and Champions League successes, Lyon, travelled to tiny second division Clemont and were beaten 4-3 on penalties. Wilford had kept the Champions hopes alive with an equaliser in the last minute of normal time, but then failed to convert his spot kick. Fallen giants, Paris Saint Germain, continued their miserable season against Auxerre despite leading 2-0 after 23 minutes. Kalou reduced the deficit on the half hour and two second half goals in the space of two minutes handed Auxerre victory. Still in the hat for the draw last Sunday were Monaco, Rennes and Sochaux from the top flight.

There were no surprises in Germany, as all four semi finalists came from the top half of the Bundesliga. Bayern Munich were firing on all cylinders as relegation threatened Freiburg were put to the sword 7-0. Claudio Pizzaro scored four himself in the slaughter. Joint division leaders Schalke also convinced with a 3-1 victory over Hannover, and Bremen overcame Bayern’s amateur side 3-0. Bielefeld completed the line up after beating Rostock 1-0.