NICK LEYDEN - Monday, February 6, 2012
A night to forget for Oguchi Onyewu and Sporting combined with Estoril's elimination means no Americans remain in the Taça da Liga.
Sporting CP 0 - 1 Gil Vicente
Sporting stumbled out of the cup by finishing third in their group behind Gil Vicente and second division Moreirense.
The critical result came on Saturday when they fell 1-0 to group winner Gil Vicente with Onyewu conceding the deciding penalty kick and receiving a red card.
The Lions controlled the early stages of the game and created dangerous chances through Matias Fernandez, Andre Carrillo and Ricky van Wolfswinkel. Their inability to finish, however, cost them early in the second half when Onyewu was whistled for a penalty.
Gooch clearly fouled Hugo Vieira in the 53rd minute, earning his second yellow card, though ardent Sportinguistas would argue the infraction may have occurred just outside the box.
Nonetheless, the referee pointed to the spot and Claudio capitalized with a slow strike right down the middle.
Sporting continued to attack after the expulsion, and came closest to scoring in the 65th minute when the Peruvian Carrillo sizzled a shot that hit the outside of the post.
But the numerical disadvantage and some fine goalkeeping by Adriano kept the hosts off the scoreboard and secured an historic win for the northerners.
Having fallen 13 points behind Benfica in the league standings, and now having crashed out of the Taça da Liga, Sporting's only real hope for a domestic trophy is to take home the Taça de Portugal in which they are pitted against Nacional in the semifinals.
Their next game, though, will be a battle for fifth place in the league against Maritimo on Saturday.
GD Estoril Praia 0 - 1 Paços de Ferreira
Tony Taylor made his first start after returning to Estoril but could not prevent Os Canarinhos from joining Sporting in elimination.
The result ended up being meaningless, as Porto's victory over Vitoria Setubal had clinched the group, but Taylor would have been anxious to re-establish himself at the António Coimbra da Mota Stadium regardless.
The attacker was at the center of a couple of Estoril's most dangerous moments, including winning a corner after a dangerous run in the 31st minute and striking a firm shot in the 47th minute that was saved by Antonio Filipe.
Taylor also created the host's best chance of the game when he teed up Fabrício in the center of the box in 56th minute only for the Brazilian to miss the net.
For all their chances, though, Os Canarinhos could not capitalize and succumbed to Josué's 48th minute penalty after Bruno Nascimento took down Michel Lugo.
The game also marked the Portuguese debut of MLS veteran Arturo Alvarez when the El Salvador international entered for Paços de Ferreira in the 77th minute.
Having been eliminated from both domestic cup competitions, league leading Estoril will now focus entirely on the promotion chase when they visit Portimonense on Sunday.