Porto with one foot in Jamor

With European play to resume shortly and crunch Primeira Liga games (Benfica-Porto & Sporting-Benfica) to look forward to within the next month the Portuguese season is entering a pivotal period. 

Nevertheless, the big story this week has been about a transfer that will only take effect next season, with Sporting's contract rebel André Carrillo signing for cross-town rivals Benfica. 

Meanwhile the first legs of the Portuguese Cup semi-finals were played this week, with FC Porto and Braga earning advantages against Gil Vicente and Rio Ave respectively. PortuGOAL rounds up the latest news. 

 

Benfica snap up Carrillo 

After months of speculation concerning Sporting winger André Carrillo, much of it suggesting the talented Peruvian would sign for FC Porto, he has instead put pen to paper on a long-term contract at Lisbon rivals Benfica. 

The Portuguese champions made their move for Carrillo when it became evident there was no way to repair the bitter breakdown in relations between the president of Sporting, Bruno de Carvalho, and the player's agent, Elio Casareto. Casareto's personal payment demands were apparently the main stumbling block, and it is reported that Benfica paid the agent €2.5m up front to make the 24-year-old a Benfica player, on top of a €2m signing-on fee for Carrillo himself and a big salary. 

The numbers involved are huge by Portuguese standards, but should Carrillo fulfil his potential it will no doubt prove a lucrative investment with Benfica receiving a big transfer fee 2 or 3 years down the line. Carrillo's fabulous talent has never been in doubt, but only this season did he add consistency to his game under Jorge Jesus. The Peru international was Sporting's best player in the opening weeks of 2015/16, before being frozen out as he refused to sign a contract extension.

 

Portuguese Cup semi-finals

Porto all but booked their place in the Portuguese Cup final at Jamor in May after winning 3-0 away at second-tier Gil Vicente in the semi-final first leg on Wednesday. 

The Dragons have shown clear signs of improvement in the last two matches under new coach José Peseiro, and the result was never in doubt once Rúben Neves gave Porto the lead on the stroke of the half time with a firm shot from the edge of the area that fizzed through a sea of legs and into the corner of the net. 

Two more goals in the second half from South Korean striker Suk and midfielder Sérgio Oliveira, both men scoring their first goals for the club, gave Porto a 3-0 cushion to defend in the second leg at the Estádio do Dragão. 

On Thursday evening Braga and Rio Ave locked horns at the Quarry.

Remarkably it is the third successive season in which the two clubs have met at this exact same stage of the competition. Rio Ave won in 2013/14, Braga came out on top last year, and this season it looks set to be a close-run thing.

In a game of few chances, Braga eked out a 1-0 victory thanks to an early penalty from Pedro Santos. All to play for, therefore, when the two teams meet again for the second leg in Vila do Conde. 

 

Luisão blow

Benfica captain Luisão has been out of action since breaking his arm in the Portuguese Cup defeat against Sporting in November.

The talismanic centre-back was thought to be close to a comeback, but news on Thursday night broke that he has re-fractured his arm and has undergone a second operation.

It is not known how long the Brazilian will take to recover, but Portuguese daily Record suggests he could miss the rest of the season. 

by Tom Kundert 

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"Singing the national anthem at the end was so beautiful - it was brutal. This communion is brutal. We will try to give more joy to the Portuguese people because they deserve it."

Fernando Santos
(Portugal coach in post-match press conference after win Switzerland)

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