Sporting were defeated 1-0 in the Lisbon derby by rivals Benfica, who finished the match with ten men. Javi García’s header was enough to give Jorge Jesus’ side all 3 points in a match in which Óscar Cardozo was sent off.
Domingos Paciência made one change from the team that defeated Braga 2-0 in the Taça de Portugal last week with Daniel Carriço taken the defensive midfield position of André Santos. Jorge Jesus selected Óscar Cardozo in front of Rodrigo and Jardel in the injured Luisão’s place.
Sporting started off the brighter of the two teams and it was Ricky van Wolfswinkel who had the game’s first chance when his header from a Diego Capel cross went over.
Nicolas Gaitán went close in the 12th minute for Benfica. His long range shot smashing the inside of Rui Patrício’s post. Sporting were on the attack soon after as the even game become more stretched, this time Stijn Schaars firing his shot just wide of Artur’s right hand post.
There was a worry for Sporting mid-way through the first half when Matías Fernández picked up what looked like a hamstring injury and had to be replaced. The lively André Carrillo came on for the Chilean who, with Jeffrén and Izmailov both injured, would be missed.
Benfica started to get into the game more after that change and grabbed the only goal of the game in the 42nd minute. Pablo Aimar’s corner found Javi García who headed well past Patrício to give Benfica the lead.
After the break Óscar Cardozo was denied a goal by Rui Patrício after the Paraguayan did well to get the ball past two Sporting defenders.
Sporting though perhaps had the best chance of the half in the 59th minute when André Carrillo did well to find space to put in a cross for Elias. Elias was free in the box but his header was stopped by a superb save from Artur.
The game’s biggest controversy happened just four minutes later when Óscar Cardozo received his second yellow card for dissent and was sent off leaving Benfica a man down. Cardozo had been booked just after the start of the second half along side Ricky van Wolfswinkel as they tussled in the build up to a freekick.
The sending off prompted a dramatic change in what had been an end to end encounter up to that stage. Benfica dropped deep wary of their numerical disadvantage.
Sporting almost managed to take advantage of it soon after when Ricky van Wolfswinkel managed to get onto the end of a loose ball and set up Elias, but the Brazilian shot wide in what was a guilt-edged chance.
Benfica though were set up well defensively and Sporting found it hard to break them down. Near the end of the game both Rodrigo and Elias had superb chances but both failed to convert leaving Benfica with the points and Sporting knowing next time out they must take their chances.
SPORTING XI: Rui Patrício; João Pereira, Ânderson Polga, Oguchi Onyewu, Emiliano Insúa (Valeri Bojinov 80′); Daniel Carriço (YC) (André Santos 66′, YC), Stijn Schaars (YC), Elias (YC); Matías Fernández (André Carrillo 27′, YC), Diego Capel, Ricky van Wolfswinkel (YC)
Subs Not Used: Marcelo Boeck, Evaldo Fabiano, Santiago Arias, Diego Rubio