Oguchi Onyewu’s 87th minute goal cancelled out João Tomás’s early goal to give Sporting a draw against Rio Ave. Marcelo Boeck will be more than pleased with his contribution, providing 3 outstanding saves in the dying minutes of the game.
On his 42st birthday Domingos Paciência chose his full strength side that showed his intentions were to take the Taça da Liga seriously this season even with the large fixture list. The only notable exclusion from the first eleven was Marcelo Boeck being chosen ahead of Rui Patrício in goal.
The home side had the better of the opening period of the game and managed to find a goal after just 16 minutes. Jorginho’s freekick was saved away by Marcelo Boeck but the Brazilian goalkeeper’s punch could only found the head of the Rio Ave’s 36-year old striker João Tomás to easily head home.
Going behind seemed to be a kick in the bum for Sporting as they started to increase their possession and begin to threaten Paulo Santos’ goal.
Elias had Sporting’s first real opportunity of the game, a good cross on the left from Diego Capel found the midfielder in space in the box. The resulting shot was poor and Elias blazed over the bar from close range.
Rio Ave could have doubled their lead soon after then when excellent play from Yazalde found João Tomás through on goal. The experienced striker though decided to try and chip Marcelo Boeck but his attempt when miles over the bar when he should have done better.
Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Emiliano Insúa both had good chances for Sporting before the interval but failed to convert, Sporting going into half-time 1-0 down.
The restart followed the same pattern as much of the later period of the first half did with Sporting have most of the possession.
Rio Ave’s defence proved a strong force to breakdown and Sporting found it hard to create. In reaction to this Domingos brought on the returning Matías Fernández in the place of André Santos to try and add extra spark to Sporting’s play.
It wasn’t until 61 minutes had gone though that Sporting had their first real chance of the second half. Young defender André Dias played a suicidal back pass that fed in Diego Capel 1-on-1 with Paulo Santos. The goalkeeper did well to stay big and forced Diego Capel out wide and being able to save the Spaniard’s shot. It was though a guilt edge chance for Capel to draw his side level.
Once again Domingos Paciência tried to change the game through a substitution taking off Diego Capel and bringing on Marat Izmailov to play his first game since September. That change later followed by bringing on André Martins for the largely ineffectual Elias.
With Sporting pushing to equalise Rio Ave started to become a greater threat on the counter-attack. Christian Atsu found himself against Marcelo Boeck but the goalkeeper pronounced another fine save with his feet to deny the forward on loan from Sporting’s next opponents, Porto.
Sporting finally managed to equalise after 87 minutes when Oguchi Onyewu converted João Pereira’s low cross to bring the away side level. Onyewu’s second goal against Rio Ave after scoring against them in the league earlier this season.
The game was certainly not over then, especially when referee Cosme Machado decided on an extra 5 minutes of stoppage time.
It was Rio Ave though who could have done on to win the match in the final moments of the night if it had not been for some last minute heroics from Marcelo Boeck. The Brazilian superbly saved twice against Yazalde from point-blank range before another smart save from a corner to ensure Sporting at the very least gained a point.
Sporting XI: Marcelo Boeck; João Pereira (YC), Oguchi Onyewu, Ânderson Polga (YC), Emiliano Insúa; André Santos (YC, Matías Fernández 54′), Stijn Schaars (YC), Elias (André Martins 73′); André Carrillo, Diego Capel (Marat Izmailov 64′), Ricky van Wolfswinkel
Subs Not Used: Rui Patrício, Evaldo Fabiano, Bruno Pereirinha, Valeri Bojinov