By CHRIS WRIGHT
Olhanense have reached the last eight of the Portugal (FA) Cup for the first time in 16 years.
Second Division Estoril, who dumped the Algarve side out of the BWIN League Cup only three weeks ago, looked to be heading for another victory when João Coimbra gave them the lead after just 16 minutes.
Olhanense failed to clear a corner and the midfielder’s shot from the edge of the box went in off the post. Three minutes later and Dady limped off to be replaced by Djalmir.
Shortly afterwards the veteran Olhanense striker had the ball in the net but his effort was correctly ruled out for being marginally offside. Estoril were the better side and it was only when club captain Rui Duarte replaced Mateus in the 63rd minute that the visitors started to show some punch.
Both keepers, Vagner (Estoril) and the highly rated Fabiano Freitas (Olhanense), were in sparkling form. With time running out and deep into stoppage time a cross from the left was handled in the penalty area by Estoril’s Steven Vitória.
The former Olhanense player, who helped them to gain promotion in 2009, was distraught. Up stepped ‘Captain Marvel’ Rui Duarte to calmly slot the ball home to take the tie into extra-time.
Midway through the first period Fabiano Freitas made a world class save as Estoril pressed for the winner. Five minutes later and the visitors were in front. Substitute Yontcha, in a packed penalty area and fifteen metres from goal, swivelled sharply and volleyed the ball high into the top corner. A cracking goal to give the Algarveans the lead.
More drama was to ensue with the end of extra-time only seconds away. A throw-in from the right was headed into the area where Steven Vitória’s former despair was turned to joy as his looping header dropped into the net via the bar. So once again it was down to penalties. Rui Duarte again took responsibility for the decisive penalty to give Olhanense a 4-2 victory and a quarter-final tie away at 2nd Division Oliveirense later in the month. Benfica suffered their first defeat of the season as they went down 2-1 away to Maritimo (Madeira).
With FC Porto and SC Braga eliminated in the previous round the Taça de Portugal is up for grabs. Olhanense will never have a better chance of reaching the final, something they have only done once before 66 years ago. The only higher ranked teams left in the competition are Sporting and Maritimo who meet in the quarters.
Academica on monday
Sixth placed Olhanense return to league action on Monday – kick-off 8.15pm – when they entertain tenth placed Academica (Coimbra).
‘Os Estudantes’, from one of Europe’s oldest university towns, had a shock 3-0 win over FC Porto in the Portugal Cup 4th round. The following Monday (December 19) Olhanense are at home to SC Braga. Kick-off 8.15pm.
The Algarve’s only Premier League football team play at the Jose Arcanjo Stadium, Olhão (behind McDonalds on the EN125).