NICK LEYDEN - Monday, January 3, 2011
Greg Garza made his first appearance for Estoril in the League Cup but was unable to prevent a disappointing loss to Penafiel.
Having already defeated their fellow Liga Orangina opponents earlier this season, Estoril welcomed Penafiel to the Estádio António Coimbra da Mota on Sunday afternoon in the opening game of the League Cup's third stage.
In a hard-fought, physical game in which neither team created consistent scoring opportunities the Penafiel breakthrough came via the penalty spot in the 40th minute.
Guilherme Cascavel converted the penalty after his strike partner, Wesllem, had been fouled in the act of shooting by Estoril's Erick Cruz, earning the Brazilian a yellow card.
To begin the second half, Vinícius Eutrópio removed lumbering Brazilian forward Clodoaldo for Luis Leal, who has been Estoril's most dangerous striking option of late. But the swap did little to alter the flow of the game.
Eutrópio made two more changes in the 65th minute, hoping to invigorate the attack by introducing Garza along with Alex Afonso, Estoril's leadings scorer, in the places of defender Marco Silva and Cruz.
With time and space in the box Paulo Sergio had an opportunity to level for Os Canarinhos in the 79th minute, but the Brazilian pushed the host's final clear opportunity just wide, sending Penafiel to the top of Group D with the triumph.
Os Canarinhos knew a victory over the northerners would be crucial in advancing to the next round, as their other two games, a visit to first division Naval and a home game against Portuguese powerhouse Sporting, will pose serious challenges.
The substitute appearance was Garza's first since joining Estoril from Sporting over the summer. With the January transfer window now open the cameo perhaps demonstrates the club's desire to keep the Texas native in Estoril.
Fellow Yanks Tony Taylor and Bryan Arguez did not make the gameday roster.
Taylor is currently unavailable through injury, while transfer rumors are swirling around Arguez, who has not appeared since August.
Estoril will next see action when they host first place Feirense in Liga Orangina action on Saturday.