A superb Sporting performance gave the Lions a 5-0 win at home to Vitória de Guimarães last night that will serve as a springboard for Thursday’s forthcoming match against Manchester City.
With that game in mind Ricardo Sá Pinto made changes to his squad leaving out Daniel Carriço and Emiliano Insúa with Evaldo Fabiano and Elias taking their place in midfield.
Ricky van Wolfswinkel opened the scoring after just 20 minutes with Sporting firmly on top after Matías Fernández fed the Dutchman. It was van Wolfswinkel’s first goal in open play in 2012 and the look of relief on the striker’s face was evident.
Sporting went into half-time one goal to the good and firmly on top of the game in what a half in which they dominated possession and should have had a larger lead going into the interval.
It took just 5 minutes for Sporting to grab a second after the interval when a poor clearance from Bruno Teles fell to the feet of Matías Fernández, the Chilean who has been in a rich run of form lately, slotted home to double Sporting’s advantage. Guimarães offered little going forward and the goal looked like it would kill the game off even with 40 minutes left to play.
Good play from Nuno Assis dispossessing Elias in his own half resulted in an excellent chance for Edgar to get the visiting side back into the game but Rui Patrício did well to save.
Nuno Assis’ next contribution was not so impressive as he foolishly tripped Ricky van Wolfswinkel in the penalty area. Marat Izmailov was the man to step up and smashed the ball straight down the centre to put Sporting 3-0 up.
Another highlight for Sporting was the excellent return for Jeffrén Suárez. The former Barcelona man came on in the 79th minute in place of Marat Izmailov and impressed everyone by scoring a late brace.
The first was a superb strike on the outside of the area after Jeffrén chested down from a corner to the outside of the box. The second a clever run and finish just under goalkeeper Nilson to make the score 5-0. It was a striking cameo and a reminder to Sporting fans just what a talent they signed back in summer.
The performance is perhaps the best of 2012 (excluding perhaps last week’s win over Manchester City) and will give Sá Pinto and the team confidence for their upcoming trip to Manchester for the second leg on Thursday.
SPORTING XI: Rui Patrício; João Pereira, Ânderson Polga, Xandão, Evaldo Fabiano; Stijn Schaars, Elias, Matías Fernández (YC) (André Martins 69′); Marat Izmailov (Jeffrén Suárez 79′), Diego Capel, Ricky van Wolfswinkel (Sebastián Ribas 83′)
Subs Not Used: Marcelo Boeck, Bruno Pereirinha, Daniel Carriço, André Santos