Sporting put in arguably their best performance thus far in pre-season in Toronto, winning 2-1 against the Italian giants Juventus. The scoreline probably didn’t reflect the superiority that Sporting showed – especially in the first half.
The weather in Toronto was hardly ideal with heavy rain and blustering winds, and yet it seemed to have little effect on the football. Sporting once again went with the same shape as in their past few games under Domingos Paciência – a sort of 4-1-3-2, with Fabián Rinaudo as the destroyer and Stijn Schaars playing the ball around.
Schaars and Rinaudo in fact were two of the stand out players for Sporting, but in the first half the star of the show was Yannick Djaló.
Yannick opened the scoring after 13 minutes when a Stijn corner was headed down by the American Oguchi Onyewu into the past of Yannick. His close range finish gave Sporting a deserved lead.
In the 36th minute Yannick beat two Juventus players before rifling an effort that left even Gianluigi Buffon helpless to stop it. Yannick proved what he can, on his very best, be capable of producing.
After the half-time break Juventus changed almost their entire squad, only Giorgio Chiellini remained from the Juve team that began the match. Sporting made a substitution of their own with Marcelo Boeck coming on for Rui Patrício.
Like with many other friendlies like this, the quality of the game dipped in the second half. Regardless Sporting still looked lively and showed great passion to win back possession should it be conceded. Rinaudo especially stood out as the main man in the centre of the field.
With 63 minutes gone Juventus looked to be back in the game. Substitute Luca Toni headed home but the goal was disallowed for offside – a decision with replays proved to be the correct one.
As the 67th minute passed it was now Sporting’s turn to ring in a large amount of changes. Diego Rubio, André Santos, André Martins, Tiago Ilori and Ânderson Polga all entered the fray. The substitutions lead to Sporting no longer as secure with their lead – as Juventus desperately tried to crawl one back.
When Juventus did score, it was a brilliant one. Alessandro Del Piero beat the offside trap to bringing the ball forward and chip Marcelo Boeck with an absolutely beautiful lob. It was a sensational goal from a player who despite being a couple of months away from 37, has still remained a fantastic football player.
Juventus threatened Sporting again later on in the match that left for a slightly nervous finish for Sporting. In the end though, the Leões took what was their most impressive win so far since the beginning of pre-season and will be hoping to do well again in their next match against Valencia.
SPORTING Team (4-1-3-2): Rui Patrício (Marcelo Boeck 45′), João Pereira (João Gonçalves 82′), Daniel Carriço (Ânderson Polga 67′), Oguchi Onyewu (Tiago Ilori 67′), Evaldo; Fabián Rinaudo; Bruno Pereirinha (André Santos 67′), Stijn Schaars, Yannick Djaló (Scored 13′ & 36′) (Valeri Bojinov 82′); Ricky van Wolfswinkel (Diego Rubio 67′), Hélder Postiga (YC) (André Martins 67′).
Subs Not Used: N/A