Semi-final line-up decided
The four Portuguese Cup quarter-finals over the last three days produced 21 goals and plenty of exciting football.
Rio Ave, Braga, Sporting and Nacional da Madeira were the teams making to the last four of the competition.
Rio Ave gunning for another final
The goal glut got underway on Tuesday night as Rio Ave thumped struggling Gil Vicente 5-2. Goals from Diego Lopes and Ukra early in each half appeared to set up Pedro Martins' side for a comfortable win, but two goals in quick succession from João Vilela and Slimy made it all square going into the final 15 minutes.
The Vila do Conde side upped the pace once again, and strikes from Pedro Moreira, Lionn and Hassan ensured Rio Ave continued their incredible form in Cup competitions over the past two seasons. Having reached the final of both the Taça (Portuguese Cup) and the Taça da Liga (League Cup) in 2013/14, Rio Ave are now just one opponent away from reaching Jamor for a second successive season.
Carrillo on fire
However, to do so they will have to overcome Sporting. The Lisbon side clocked up a 5th successive win in all competitions as they knocked out 3rd-tier Famalicão comfortably at the Alvalade on Wednesday. After Murta had brilliantly saved a Montero penalty, it took a spectacular volley by the outstanding Carrillo to break down the northerners' resistance and give the Lions an interval lead.
Second-half goals from João Mário, Paulo Oliveira and Montero followed as the difference in class told. Sporting coach Marco Silva will be particularly pleased with impressive contributions from two players given a rare start - young centre-back Tobias Figueiredo and Japanese striker Tanaka. Both did their chances of further playing time no harm with fine individual performances.
Braga hit seven
Earlier in the evening Braga enjoyed a surprisingly one-sided tie as they hit seven goals past hapless Belenenses at the Quarry - with seven different scorers. Anderlan Santos, Rafa Silva and Rúben Micael scored and Belenenses striker Deyverson was sent off, all before the half-time whistle had blown, to effectively end the match as a contest.
Sérgio Conceição's men added further goals through Pardo, Éder, Alan and Tiba, making it a miserable night for Belenenses, for whom Fábio Nunes scored a consolation. "It was one of those games when everything clicked," said Conceição.
Penalties galore in Funchal
Nacional came out on top in a hard-fought Madeira derby in Funchal. Hosts Marítimo, with their splendid new stadium at last close to completion and almost full, took the lead on 19 minutes as Bruno Gallo converted a penalty.
Nacional equalised in the second half, also from the penalty spot, Marco Matias making no mistake. Nacional's new Brazilian acquisition Christian Fiel almost won it in the closing minutes as his free kick drew a spectacular save out of Salin, who pushed the shot onto the underside of the bar before it capriciously bounced down and out.
Thirty minutes of extra time brought no further goals and a long penalty shootout ensued, with Manuel Machado's team eventually coming through after 16 penalties had been taken, Gottardi making two superb stops to first save a penalty that would have taken Marítimo through, then keeping Ramsteijn's effort out to trigger wild celebrations among the Nacional players and fans.
Braga vs. Rio Ave
Nacional vs. Sporting
First legs played on 4 March, second legs on 8 April.
by Tom Kundert