Sporting will return from Coimbra with just one point after a disappointing draw away to Académica. Elias’ 80th minute strike equalised after Éder’s first half goal meaning Sporting will end 2011 6 points behind Porto and Benfica.
The game looked like it would be a tight affair early on in the game when both teams struggled to retain possession and the game lacked any real flow to it. Credit must go to Académica’s defence, which included Cédric Soares, who fought well at the back.
Indeed, it was Académica that opened the scoring when Diogo Valente’s cross found Éder free in the box and he put the home side ahead after just 28 minutes.
The goal seemed to wake Sporting up more and Ricky van Wolfswinkel will know he had at least two excellent chances in the first half to put his team ahead. One, well saved by the French goalkeeper Romuald Peiser, and the other a poor air shot from close range in what was perhaps the worst performance of the Dutchman since his arrival.
For the second half Domingos Paciência immediately made a more attacking change with André Carrillo coming on in place of Bruno Pereirinha.
Again not longer after the restart Ricky van Wolfswinkel had a good chance to equalise but his shot just crept wide of Peiser’s right hand post. As time ticked by Domingos made another chance this time bringing on Valeri Bojinov for Daniel Carriço to add further attacking impetus for Sporting.
Académica were the team to have the next big chance though as former Sporting youth player Marinho forced a top save out of Rui Patrício.
Domingos Paciência’s final change was a strange one bringing on the left-back Evaldo Fabiano on in place of Diego Capel and pushing Emiliano Insúa up to the left-wing position.
Just five minutes after that substitution though Sporting had by far their best chance of the game. André Carrillo’s strike forced a good save out of Peiser who could only palm the ball away into the path of Oguchi Onyewu. The defender, with time and space, snatched at his shot and blazed the ball way over the bar. It seemed like it was going to be one of those days for Sporting.
The equaliser finally did come on the 81st minute when the impressive André Carrillo crossed low and hard forcing Peiser again to save. This time the Académica goalkeeper could only push the ball away into the path of Elias to finish from close range.
Elias though was sent off just 8 minutes after scoring his goal for two yellow-cards. Both tackles were the result of defensive work as Sporting had given the ball away after over-committing going forward though the Brazilian certainly should have been less inclined to tackle in the manner he did for the second yellow card knowing full well he was already on a booking.
It was then a disappointing end to 2011 in the league with Sporting now 6 points behind Porto and Benfica and now knowing they will be missing Elias for the forthcoming match with Porto at the start of the new year. The next focus now though is the tricky Taça de Portugal tie with Marítimo on Wednesday.
SPORTING XI: Rui Patrício; João Pereira, Ânderson Polga, Oguchi Onyewu, Emiliano Insúa; Daniel Carriço (Valeri Bojinov 57′), Stijn Schaars, Elias (Scored 80′, YC x2); Bruno Pereirinha (André Carrillo 46′), Diego Capel (Evaldo Fabiano 63′), Ricky van Wolfswinkel
Subs Not Used: Marcelo Boeck, Santiago Arias, André Santos, André Martins