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Photo by José Lorvão

Sporting CP through to semifinals of Taça de Portugal

By Sporting CP
09 Feb, 2024

A 0-3 victory over UD Leiria earns progress in the cup

Sporting Clube de Portugal secured a place in the semifinals of the Taça de Portugal with a 0-3 win away to II Liga side UD Leiria.

Nine days after their last match, due to the postponement of the game against FC Famalicão last weekend, Os Leões returned to action. Goals from Viktor Gyökeres (x2) and Pedro Gonçalves allowed the team to progress in the cup competition they last won in 2018/19.

UD Leiria had not made it to the quarter finals since 2003, and were playing Sporting CP for the first time in almost 12 years. The Estádio Dr. Magalhães Pessoa was filled with 20,310 fans for the game, with a large number of away fans making the trip.

Coach Rúben Amorim made three changes - all in defence - from the 8-0 rout of Casa Pia AC. Cup goalkeeper Franco Israel returned to the starting lineup, while Geny Catamo and Matheus Reis were included in place of Ricardo Esgaio and Gonçalo Inácio .

Furthermore, Hidemasa Morita returned to the squad after representing Japan in the Asian Cup, and winter reinforcement Koba Koindredi featured on the bench. Conversely, striker Paulinho dropped out at the last minute due to an injury to his right foot.

If the idea in Leiria was to immediately increase the pace, as Amorim had mentioned in his press conference, it almost brought with it a goal. Gyökeres, after four minutes, was only denied by the post. After the first ten minutes had passed, with the action exclusively in the Leiria midfield, Marcus Edwards took a gamble with a solo move, but ended up shooting into the hands of Pawel Kieszek.

The first time UD Leiria entered the area, as a result of a throw-in, they created a lot of danger with a header from defender Bura. The trend of the match, however, remained the same, with Sporting CP in charge and taking the initiative with the ball.

Francisco Trincão found space off a loose ball in the area, but his reflex shot was saved by Kieszek, and a penalty for Os Leões was given and then subsequently overruled by VAR.

Right after, from a corner, Sporting CP broke the deadlock. Nuno Santos curled a ball towards the near post and Gyökeres rose to open the scoring with a beautiful header.

Just five minutes later the score was 0-2, as Gyökeres ran down the left and crossed low for Pedro Gonçalves to respond with a first time shot into the net. He moved up to 12 goals for the season.

UD Leiria then received several yellow cards and had more difficulties in holding off the momentum. Trincão had an effort off target and was also denied a strike from a rebound, as the game went into the interval.

Upon the restart, Lucho Vega and, above all, Jair Silva, provided serious threats, but the Sporting CP response was another chance for Trincão.

After Franco Israel blocked a one-on-one with Lucho Vega, Sporting CP settled things down and began to build for future chances with patience. Following a free kick, Nuno Santos subtly clipped the ball into the area. Eduardo Quaresma was denied by Kieszek, then it was a defender who prevented Trincão from scoring with a clearance off the line.

Morita, Inácio and Esgaio were all brought on, before Gyökeres forced Kieszek to save a strong strike for a corner. Finally, it was the Swede, who dealt the final blow to UD Leiria's dream: Inácio knocked the ball towards the near post and Gyökeres headed in again, for his 26th goal this season.

Up next in the Taça de Portugal are either FC Vizela or SL Benfica, in a two-legged semi-final. Sporting CP return home to the Estádio José Alvalade this weekend, hosting SC Braga on Sunday.

Sporting CP: Franco Israel [GK], Geny Catamo (Ricardo Esgaio, 72'), Eduardo Quaresma (Luís Neto, 87'), Sebastián Coates [C], Matheus Reis (Gonçalo Inácio, 72'), Nuno Santos, Morten Hjulmand (Daniel Bragança, 80'), Pedro Gonçalves, Marcus Edwards, Francisco Trincão (Hidemasa Morita, 72'), Viktor Gyökeres.