RECAP: ESTORIL PRAIA 5 - 2 FC AROUCA
Tony Taylor notched the victory clinching goal as Estoril completed a remarkable second half comeback against visiting Arouca.
In the midst of a three game losing streak, Estoril welcomed the league leaders to Estádio António Coimbra da Mota on Sunday afternoon.
After conceding two goals in the opening half it appeared as though Vinícius Eutrópio's squad had condemned themselves to a fourth consecutive loss. But a five goal explosion, aided by the dismissal of Arouca's only ‘keeper, saw Os Canarinhos claim all three points in unbelievable fashion.
Goals by the northerner's attack-minded fullback Kiko, in the 16th minute, and midfielder Helder Silva, in first half stoppage time, had staked Arouca to a two goal halftime lead.
But the wheels began to come off for the visitors midway through the second stanza.
Luis Leal and Taylor, who had replaced midfielder Steven Vitória at the interval, had begun to pose a greater threat to Arouca's net.
And it was Leal who, while making his first Liga Orangina start, finally created the breakthrough in the 67th minute when Pedro Soares took him down in the box.
Estoril's leading scorer, Alex Afonso, converted the resulting penalty to halve the deficit. But more importantly the tackle had earned Soares his second yellow card of the match.
With no other netminders on the bench, Henrique Nunes was forced to put reserve defender Fernando between the sticks for the final 23 minutes.
For the makeshift ‘keeper and his teammates it proved to be five minutes too long.
In the 79th minute Luciano Bebé took advantage of the situation sending his long distance free kick directly on goal, beating Fernando to level the score.
Arouca's struggles became considerably more difficult just three minutes later when stalwart midfielder Diogo was also sent off for a second bookable offense.
With nine men, including a fullback in goal, it was simply too much to ask for Arouca to hold on to the tie.
Taylor scored his fourth of the season in the 87th minute to ice the game. And Afonso struck twice more in added time, becoming the first player to tally a hat trick in the league this season.
The result knocked Arouca from first to third in the standings, while Estoril climbed to ninth.
Parity reigns in the Liga Orangina, however. Only three points separate Os Canarinhos from first placed Feirense, so Estoril are certainly still alive in the promotion race despite sitting in the bottom half of the standings.
Taylor and company next take the field on the road against Freamunde on Tuesday December 28th.