Leões/Lions Awards 2013

First off, apologies.. I’ve been a badblogger for a while. Twitter’s just so much easier to pay attention to do. I don’t actually have to write things down. Besides, it’s been a rough season. It’s been the Sportingequivalent of Grave of the Fireflies.

Secondly, huzzah! It’s the second annual Leões/Lions Awards! There have not been too many things that were award worthy this year but I’ll try my best.

I realise there’s one more game left to play but.. what the hell!

Let’s kick things off then.

Goal of the Season: Ricky van Wolfswinkel (1st) vs. Braga (link) – Not to take away from the lovely diving header that finished the move but the cross from André Martins is what put this goal as my number one. Cédric hit the ball forward for André Martins to run onto and the cross was just a product of perfect technique and the finish capped off what was our best moves all season long.
Runners Up: Bruma vs. Gil Vicente (link), Cédric vs. Nacional (link), Ricky van Wolfswinkel vs. Guimarães (link)

Worst Signing of the Season: Khalid Boulahrouz – It’s been a pretty terrible period of signings from Sporting especially after the promise of the last year. Far from going from young-ish players with potential (Carrillo, Jeffrén, Capel, van Wolfswinkel) it seemed this season was a return to signing older players. Many of them did not do very well but I think Boulahrouz was perhaps the worst. Just remember him being sent off in the Benfica match at the Alvalade. It was a telling sign that Marcos Rojo only started to really improve when he was in central defence with Tiago Ilori instead.
Runners Up: Danijel Pranjic (how did he ever play for Bayern?), Gelson Fernandes (added nothing to the team, like Rinaudo without the energy)

Signing of the Season: Fabrice Fokobo – It’s been slim pickings to think of our best signings. Fabrice Fokobo has hardly played that much first team football for Sporting but on pure potential he looks like he could turn into a very good signing. The performance against Porto stands out and, of course, his goal against Tottenham Hotspur in the NextGen series. Wow.
Runners Up: Marcos Rojo (only started to settle near the end of the season), Zakaria Labyad (potentially a very talented player but has failed to show much of it so far)

Young (U-23) Player of the Season: André Martins – It took until Jesualdo Ferreira’s appointment for André Martins to really get much of a run in the first team but he has shown he’s one of our classiest players. Without him in the side the team look even less likely of ever creating a chance.
Runners Up: Eric Dier (just missed out on the award, looks like a great prospect), Tiago Ilori (really benefiting from first team football)

B-Team Player of the Season: Ricardo Esgaio – Adaptable and a great finish it seems Ricardo Esgaio’s development has massively improved thanks to the B-Team. Had he not been required for first team commitments he would have scored even more.
Runners Up: Eric Dier (that freekick vs. Benfica B, phwoar), Bruma (improving greatly but needs more time)

Player of the Season: Rui Patrício – As always, São Patrício. Please never leave us. Although he probably finally will this season after having just made his 250th appearance for the club it’s depressing to think where we would be without him. The only player who gives 100% every single week)
Runners Up: Diego Capel (has the knack of finding goals when they’re needed most and constantly runs his socks off), Fabián Rinaudo (all heart and all passion)

Godinho Lopes Award for Being Shit: Godinho Lopes. This award needs no explanation.
Runners Up: Godinho Lopes, Godinho Lopes


Sporting’s Europa League Group Stage Squad Announced

Sporting’s squad for the group stage for the UEFA Europa League has been announced on the UEFA website. The full squad with B team members is as follows:

Goalkeepers: Rui Patrício, Marcelo Boeck, Victor Golas, Luís Ribeiro
Defenders: Daniel Carriço, Xandão, Khalid Boulahrouz, Marcos Rojo, Cédric Soares*, Tiago Ilori*, Emiliano Insúa, Tobias Figueiredo*, Michael Pinto*
Midfielders: Stijn Schaars, Marat Izmailov, Zakaria Labyad, Fabián Rinaudo, Adrien Silva, Bruno Pereirinha, André Martins, Danijel Pranjić, Kikas*, Edelino Ié*, Filipe Chaby*, João Mário*, Luís Cortez*, Elias, Gelson Fernandes, Zezinho
Forwards: Jeffrén Suárez, Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Diego Capel, Valentín Viola, André Carrillo, Carlos Mané*, Iuri Medeiros*, Ricardo Esgaio*, Bruma*, Betinho*

(* – Players with an asterisk are on the ‘B list’)

Sporting News Round-Up

It’s been a busy week for Sporting with a few games, the close of the transfer window, and the Europa League groups drawn so it’s time for another huge round-up of all the Sporting news.

First, we’ll catch up with Sporting’s last two games in which Sporting had varying success.

The first was a massively disappointing 0-1 defeat at home to Rio Ave. Edimar’s well worked goal in the 40th minute was enough for the visitors to secure the win. The game was typical of the first opening games for Sporting. Sporting had plenty of possession but failed to break through the Rio Ave defence and at times looked hugely out of ideas – and when they did make chances proceeded to miss them. In the second-half also saw the debut of the new Argentine forward Valentín Viola.

Sporting XI: Patrício; Cédric Soares (YC), Khalid Boulahrouz, Marcos Rojo (YC), Emiliano Insúa; Gelson Fernandes (YC) (Valentín Viola 72′), Adrien Silva (Zakaria Labyad 46′), Elias (André Martins 46′); André Carrillo (YC), Diego Capel, Ricky van Wolfswinkel
Subs Not Used: Marcelo Boeck, Daniel Carriço, Danijel Pranjić, Jeffrén Suárez

After the game Ricardo Sá Pinto was furious and promised a win and goals in the next game in the Europa League against AC Horsens. Last week the sides drew 1-1 and Horsens goalkeeper Frederik Rønnow stole the show.

Sá Pinto’s side truly delivered with a thumping 5-0 victory to secure a place in the Europa League group stages (draw to follow). Danijel Pranjić started ahead of Emiliano Insúa at left-back to make his full Sporting debut.

Ricky van Wolfswinkel, who had been misfiring in previous games, opened the scoring after 8 minutes with a lovely half-volleyed finish. Thomas Kortegaard was unfortunate to see a ball bounce cruelly off his knee and then into the net to put Sporting 2-0 ahead at half-time.

After the restart Ricky van Wolfswinkel got his second goal from close range after some poor Horsens defending from a corner. André Carrillo scored the goal of the game when his superb strike from the edge of the area hit the underside of the cross bar and went in before a good Elias strike finished the hammering.

Sporting XI: Rui Patrício; Cédric Soares, Khalid Boulahrouz, Marcos Rojo, Danijel Pranjić; Gelson Fernandes (Daniel Carriço 74′), Adrien Silva (André Martins 65′), Elias; André Carrillo (Jeffrén Suárez 65′), Diego Capel, Ricky van Wolfswinkel
Subs Not Used: Marcelo Boeck, Xandão, Emiliano Insúa, Zakaria Labyad

On Friday 31st August came the Europa League draw which saw Sporting drew in Group G alongside FC Basel, KRC Genk, and Videoton FC.

Interestingly, Hungarian side Videoton are managed by one-time Sporting player Paulo Sousa. As well as that Renato Neto is also on loan at the Hungarian club from Sporting and it is where former Sporting player Marco Caneira is currently playing.

Full fixtures:

20th September: SPORTING vs. Basel
4th October: Videoton vs. SPORTING
25th October: Genk vs. SPORTING
8th November: SPORTING vs. Genk
22nd November: Basel vs. SPORTING
6th December: SPORTING vs. Videoton

Before we move onto all the transfer news there will be Sporting players involved for Portugal over the next international window:

Portugal: Rui Patrício
Portugal U-21: Cédric Soares, André Martins and Pedro Mendes

Speaking of Rui Patrício. Patrício signed a new contract with the club keeping him at the club now until the end of the 2017/2018 season. On top of that Rui Patrício’s release clause has been increased to €40,000,000.

So now to the transfers.

Sporting completed only one transfer in to the club and that was of Júlio Alves (brother of Bruno Alves) joining Sporting B on loan for the season from Turkish club Beşiktaş.

There were plenty of moves out of the club though, albeit almost all loan deals…

Florent Sinama Pongolle cancelled his contract with Sporting meaning he is now a free agent. Pongolle spent last season on loan at Saint-Étienne and will be widely remembered as being one of Sporting’s most wasteful signings.

Wilson Eduardo will be spending next season on loan at Académica after almost making it into the first team this year.

Valeri Bojinov, who was certainly never going to play for Sporting again, has moved on loan to Hellas Verona. Bojinov had long been rumoured to be joining Torino but ended up at Hellas instead.

B-Team defender João Gonçalves will join Vitória de Guimarães on loan.

Another B-Team defender, Atila Turan, will be in Turkey next season playing for Orduspor. He’ll be playing alongside former Sporting player Miguel Garcia.

And finally, in the most surprising move, Oguchi Onyewu will be playing for Málaga next year. Onyewu did little wrong last season with Sporting but his loan deal will mean he get more first-team football. The arrivals of Rojo and Boulahrouz made his departure more likely.

So there you have it! The B-Team are facing Marítimo B later today with a report to follow later.

Sporting News Round-Up

It’s been a good while since our last news round-up so here we are again. Where do we even start?

Transfer News:

Last time we checked Alberto Rodríguez was on his way to be yet another Sporting player at Deportivo de La Coruña. This deal in fact never was completed and in a complete turn around instead Alberto Rodríguez’s contract with the club was bought out and he was free to go. He then signed for Nuno Espírito Santo’s Rio Ave.

Luis Aguiar joined San Lorenzo on a 2-year deal after having failed to make a single appearance for the club. In fact his only appearance at all for the club was a 3-0 friendly defeat to Valencia at the Alvalade last year.

Matías Fernández completed his transfer to Fiorentina after 3 years with Sporting. Matías was an excellent player during his time at the club and we wish him the best of luck. Fiorentina paid €3,500,000 for the attacking midfielder with the possibility of further money from additional add-on clauses.

Renato Neto, who featured frequently in the second-half of the season for Sporting has been given another loan move after his previous spell with Cercle Brugge. Neto has joined Hungarian club Videoton FC until the end of the season. Videoton incidentally is where former Sporting defender Marco Caneira now plays.

It’s not all players going out though. On July 29th Racing Club in Argentina confirmed that Valentín “Titín” Viola was set to join Sporting. There had been interest from various European clubs for the forward with Benfica in particular also interested. Although Viola has not yet been unveiled as a Sporting player the official announcement is expected soon with the player already in Lisbon as we speak.

In various other transfer news: Diogo Rosado (who had been expected to sign for Genoa) now looks likely instead to join Blackburn Rovers will the deal being reported to be completed shortly. Juary Soares who was released from the club this season has signed for União de Leiria. Nuno Reis has joined Olhanense for a season-long loan deal. After spending last year at Genk, Leandro Grimi is now having a loan at Argentinian club Godoy Cruz. Amido Baldé will also be on loan with Vitória de Guimarães. Finally, Fabrice Fokobo has joined Sporting B from Njalla Quan Sport Academy. Fokobo had previous had a loan spell with Panathinaikos.

Fixture News:

Last Friday saw the draw of the Europa League qualifying stage. Sporting will face yet another Europa League trip to Denmark this time to take on AC Horsens who finished 4th in the Danish Supaliga last season as well as runners up to FC København in the Danish Cup. Full details will be found the the Results / Fixtures page.

Abel’s U-19 side also found out their opponents for this year’s NextGen Series group stages. Sporting have been draw in a group with Aston Villa, Celtic and PSV Eindhoven. The first game will be away to Aston Villa on Wednesday 15th August.

Recent Results:

Sporting 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday (22/07/12)
Goals: André Martins (11′), Ricky van Wolfswinkel (69′)
Sporting XI: Marcelo Boeck (Victor Golas 88′); Bruno Pereirinha (Cédric Soares 46′), Daniel Carriço (Khalid Boulahrouz 46′), Xandão (Oguchi Onyewu 46′), Emiliano Insúa (Danijel Pranjić 46′); Stijn Schaars (Adrien Silva 46′), Gelson Fernandes (YC) (Elias 46′), André Martins (Matías Fernández 60′); Jeffrén Suárez (André Carrillo 46′), Diego Capel (Wilson Eduardo 81′), Ricky van Wolfswinkel (YC) (Diego Rubio 81′)
Subs Not Used: Nuno Reis

In the Pepe Supercup mini-tournament contested in shorter games between Sporting and local clubs Atlético Clube de Portugal and Belenenses Sporting won via penalty shootout victories after two goalless draws with each team.

Sporting 3-1 Saint-Étienne (28/07/12)
Goals: André Carrillo (35′, 59′), Ricky van Wolfswinkel (71′)- Bakary Sako (75′)
Sporting XI: Rui Patrício (Marcelo Boeck 46′); Cédric Soares (Bruno Pereirinha 46′), Khalid Boulahrouz (Daniel Carriço 46′ (Oguchi Onyewu 69′)), Marcos Rojo (Xandão 46′), Danijel Pranjić (Emiliano Insúa 46′); Stijn Schaars (Gelson Fernandes 46′, YC), Elias (Adrien Silva 46′), André Martins (Fabián Rinaudo 61′, YC); André Carrillo (Jeffrén Suárez 61′), Diego Capel (Wilson Eduardo 77′), Ricky van Wolfswinkel (Diego Rubio 77′)
Subs Not Used: Nuno Reis, Marat Izmailov

Getafe 1-0 Sporting (03/08/12)
Goals: Diego Castro (59′)
Sporting XI: Rui Patrício; Bruno Pereirinha, Khalid Boulahrouz, Marco Rojo, Danijel Pranjić; Stijn Schaars (Adrien Silva 61′), Elias, André Martins (Jeffrén Suárez 61′); André Carrillo, Diego Capel (Wilson Eduardo 76′), Ricky van Wolfswinkel (Diego Rubio 22′)
Subs Not Used: Marcelo Boeck, Daniel Carriço, Xandão, Fabián Rinaudo, Gelson Fernandes

Sporting 3-1 Moghreb Tétouan (04/08/12)
Goals: Daniel Carriço (42′), Ricky van Wolfswinkel (66′), Mourtada Fall (72′ OG) – Moussa Traoré (55′)
Sporting XI: Marcelo Boeck; Cédric Soares, Xandão, Daniel Carriço (Oguchi Onyewu 67′), Emiliano Insúa; Fabián Rinaudo (André Martins 65′), Adrien Silva, Gelson Fernandes; Jeffrén Suárez (Bruma 82′), Wilson Eduardo (Danijel Pranjić 76′), Ricky van Wolfswinkel (Iuri Medeiros 87′)
Subs Not Used: Rui Patrício, Macros Rojo, Stijn Schaars, Diego Rubio

Sporting News Round-Up

So, since it’s been a while since the last Leões/Lions post (yes, it’s been a really long while) here is a round-up of all the transfers and other pre-season news so far. As you know, there is always something happening at Sporting so there is a lot to write about.

Transfers in:

Zakaria Labyad was a deal done way back during the season but he has now officially become a Sporting player. Labyad will be in London over the summer representing Morocco at the Olympics. PSV Eindhoven, Labyad’s former club, are now seeking financial compensation for the deal.

Sporting’s next signing was Gelson Fernandes on the 4th July. Fernandes came from French side Saint-Étienne after having spent the second half of 2012 on loan to Udinese. Gelson’s deal is a 4-year contract with a buyout clause of €25m.

9 days later and Sporting completed another signing by signing former Bayern München player Danijel Pranjić. The Croatian has had his injuries in recent times but will reinforce Sporting in midfield was well as occasionally on the left-hand side in defence or attack.

The signings didn’t stop there as Khalid Boulahrouz joined the club for free just 4 days after that on the 18th July. The Netherlands and ex-Chelsea defender has been at VfB Stuttgart until his contract expired. Boulahrouz can play at both right-back and centre-back and has been handed a two-year contract.

Most recently Sporting completed the signing of Marcos Rojo the Argentinian left-back / centre-back from Spartak Moscow. The former Estudiantes player had been rumoured to join Benfica months ago but in the end chose Sporting instead.

Transfers out:

As already ported on the blog João Pereira has moved onto Valencia. Ânderson Polga left the club too and is still yet to find a new team. Long-time servant Tiago also retired.

Deportivo de La Coruña signed André Santos on loan as well as being able to keep Diogo Salomão for another season. More recently both Alberto Rodríguez and Evaldo Fabiano have also joined the newly promoted Spanish team.

Jaime Valdés officially became a Parma player after he was on loan there last season.

Edgar Ié and Agostinho Cá were all set to join Internazionale last month. Indeed, the deal had been reported as completed by various media outlets. Since then it emerged that the deal had in fact not gone through and now the pair have joined Barcelona instead and will play for the B team next season.

Other Sporting players have been released and found new clubs such as Diogo Rosado (Genoa), Mexer (Nacional), André Marques (FC Sion), Mateus Fonseca (FC Chiasso), and Rodolfo Simões (Marítimo).

As well as the following players leaving the club on loan: William Owusu (Westerlo), William Carvalho (Cercle Brugge), and Miguel Serôdio (Varzim).

Pre-Season Games:

Sporting opened Pre-Season with an 11-0 win over minnows Atlético Clube do Cacém. The Sintra club were unsurprisingly soundly beaten thanks to goals from Iuri Medeiros, Filipe Chaby, Emiliano Insúa, Adrien Silva, André Martins, Ricky van Wolfswinkel (x2), Diego Rubio (x2), and Wilson Eduardo (x2).

Last Thursday Sporting ended up losing 1-0 to Charlton Athletic in a game played at the Municipal de Lepe, the home of lower league side San Roque de Lepe. A last minute goal from Johnnie Jackson game the London club the win.

Sporting’s team for the game was:

Marcelo Boeck; Bruno Pereirinha (Cédric Soares 46′), Daniel Carriço (YC) (Nuno Reis 59′), Xandão (Oguchi Onyewu 59′), Emiliano Insúa (Danijel Pranjić 59′); Fabián Rinaudo (Gelson Fernandes 46′), Adrien Silva (Stijn Schaars 59′), Elias (André Martins 46′); Jeffrén Suárez (Wilson Eduardo 46′), Diego Capel (André Carrillo 56′), Ricky van Wolfswinkel (Diego Rubio 59′)

Sporting next face Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow night with kick off at 20:30.

Matías Fernández and Ricky van Wolfswinkel to Be Offered New Contracts

According to the newspaper Record, Sporting are set to offer new contracts to Matías Fernandez and Ricky van Wolfswinkel.

Ricky van Wolfswinkel had an excellent debut season for Sporting finishing up with 25 games in all competitions and is still only 23 years of age. Sporting intend to offer the Dutch striker, who has been linked with a large amount of other European clubs, a new contract with an increased wage and an increased termination clause. Currently van Wolfswinkel’s contract expires at the end of the 2016/2017 season and it’s unlikely that the contract will be more than a season longer but that the terms are more beneficial for the striker as a reward for his efforts.

Matías Fernández on the other hand is free to join a new club should he not sign a new contract at Sporting before January. His current deal expires at the end of next season and Sporting are keen to offer him a new contract before he can freely move away. A new deal for Matías is likely to come about just before the start of the upcoming season.

Leões/Lions Awards 2012

Welcome to the first Leões/Lions awards! I’ll be handing out a couple of awards to Sporting players who I think deserve them. It may not be exactly the end of the season with the Taça de Portugal final still to come but I think I’ve seen enough to hand them out just that little bit early.

Goal of the Season: Marat Izmailov vs. Rio Ave (Link): Izmailov’s goal against Rio Ave is an excellent example of some of the magic that the Russian midfielder can produce. Izmailov beats to Rio Ave players before smashing a shot past the goalkeeper from 25 yards away. Superb goal. (Judging goals is usually based purely on taste, so if you think there’s anything I missed that should be a contender then feel free to share.)
Runners-Up: Matías Fernández vs. Manchester City (Link), André Santos vs. Legia Warszawa (Link), Fabián Rinaudo vs. Nacional (Link)

Worst Signing of the Season: Valeri Bojinov – That penalty incident, you know the one I mean against Moreirense in the Taça da Liga. Not only that Bojinov rarely looked too much like his former self and for such a talented player it’s clear the several injuries in his career have affected him. It was no surprise to see him go on loan to Lecce on January and he won’t be expected back – he’s even been an issue at Lecce too.
Runners-Up: Luis Aguiar (yes, he’s a Sporting player), Elias (average performances for a large transfer fee after a bright start)

Signing of the Season: Stijn Schaars – €850,000 was the transfer fee for AZ captain Stijn Schaars. In a world where fellow midfield man Elias cost more than 10x that it has been Schaars who had been the better of the  two. Stijn has been central to a lot of the rhythm of Sporting’s play as well as being an important part in defensive work and set-pieces. Should Schaars play against Académica in the Taça de Portugal final it will be his 50th appearance for Sporting this season – a sure sign of his importance to the team.
: Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Emiliano Insúa

Young Player (U-23) of the Season: Ricky van Wolfswinkel – It’s hard to believe that Ricky van Wolfswinkel only just turned 23 back in January (meaning he was 22 at the start of the season and eligible for this award). €5,400,000 brought the Dutch striker from FC Utrecht to Sporting and van Wolfswinkel has managed impressively to fill the void that Liédson’s departure left us. With 24 goals in 45 appearances made all the more impressive by the fact he was frequently up front all on his own with some at times very little service to live on. Perhaps the most telling stat is that in the Primeira Liga this season Ricky van Wolfswinkel is the player to have scored the most winning goals that have produced victories for a season. His goals are frequent and frequently important.
Runners-Up: André Martins, André Carrillo

Player of the Season: Rui Patrício – There’s little that can be said about São Patrício besides… please never leave. Once again Patrício has been world class this season having saved Sporting’s skin on a gigantic amount of occasions. There’s growing speculation that this may finally be Portugal goalkeeper’s last season and should he leave he deserves to go for a massive price tag. He will be vital for any club he arrives at. Had it not been for Patrício then where would Sporting be?
Runners-Up: Stijn Schaars, Ricky van Wolfswinkel

Disagree with anything? Feel free to comment

Match Report: SPORTING 5-0 Vitória de Guimarães

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

Match Report: SPORTING 1-0 Paços de Ferreira

>Sporting picked up their first win under new manager, Ricardo Sá Pinto, with a 1-0 home win over Paços de Ferreira.

Sá Pinto made just one change from the side that earned vital away goals against Legia Warszawa last time out with Elias taking the place of Matías Fernández.

Immediately Sporting enjoyed great possession in the game but were without any creation in midfield and in fact it was Paços de Ferreira who had the best chance early on.

Michel found himself in lots of space behind the Sporting defence and found himself 1-on-1 with Rui Patrício but his shot went just wide.

There was more cause for concern for Sporting when Oguchi Onyewu injured himself in a challenge and had to be replaced by Daniel Carriço.

Carriço soon had a big part to play in Sporting’s goal. A Stijn Schaars freekick from the left was crossed into the box and missed by goalkeeper Cássio. Carriço challenged for the ball with Ricardo and it was the Paços player who had the last touch that resulted in Sporting taking the lead.

The game took the same picture after half-time when once again Sporting were in control but still finding it hard to create. Once again it was Paços with the first change of the half when Manuel José forced Rui Patrício into a good save early on.

After 63 minutes Fabián Rinaudo seemed to take a bit of a knock and was replaced with the man who scored the equaliser in the last game, André Santos. The two injuries could be a cause for concern for Sá Pinto before the second leg.

Sporting earned a penalty after 68 minutes with Ricardo was judged to handball in the area. The decision was harsh on Ricardo who was trying to keep his arms away from the ball.

The Paços players were incensed by the decision and continued to argue with the referee for a few minutes before Ricky van Wolfswinkel stepped up to the take the penalty. The Dutch striker, usually clinical from this range, hit his penalty poorly and Cássio saved well. Cássio did move far off his line to save it but either way it was a poor penalty from van Wolfswinkel.

The team managed to sit the rest of the game out without much incident, except a bloody (and perhaps broken) nose for Ricky van Wolfswinkel. Earning Ricardo Sá Pinto his first win as Sporting coach and will perhaps help to give the side confidence before the big second leg against Legia.

Sporting XI: Rui Patrício; João Pereira (YC), Ânderson Polga, Oguchi Onyewu (Daniel Carriço 27′), Emiliano Insúa; Fabián Rinaudo (André Santos 63′), Stijn Schaars, Elias; Marat Izmailov (Bruno Pereirinha 59′), André Carrillo (YC), Ricky van Wolfswinkel
Subs Not Used: Marcelo Boeck, Evaldo Fabiano, Matías Fernández, Diego Rubio

Match Report: Nacional 1-3 SPORTING (3-5 agg.)

Sporting progressed through to the final of the Taça de Portugal to face off against Académica after beating Nacional 3-1 (5-3 agg.).

The game saw the return of Fabián Rinaudo to the Sporting team after he picked up his bad injury in the Europe League game against FC Vaslui back in November. Domingos Paciência also gave a debut to Brazilian central-defender Xandão on loan from São Paulo.

In truth it was Nacional who began the better side but after just 19 minutes Fabián Rinaudo marked his return with his first ever goal for the club. Rinaudo’s strike from outside the area hit Vladan Giljen’s left-hand post and went in.

Nacional to their credit continued with the best of the game but were unable to find an opening to goal.

Things though went from bad to word for Nacional as Mario Rondón received a red card for his second bookable offence after a foul on the returning Rinaudo.

After the break though Pedro Caixinha’s did finally manage to score. A mix up in defence between Rui Patrício and Ânderson Polga allowed Diego Barcellos to head-in the equaliser for the home side after 64 minutes which would have meant Nacional would go through on away goals.

Sporting took the lead again when Claudemir pulled down Emiliano Insúa in the penalty area to concede a penalty. Ricky van Wolfswinkel confidentially slotted home to put Sporting ahead.

With the extra man advantage Sporting were able to take control of the game and, in stoppage time, João Pereira’s superb run and finish finished the game off for Sporting.

Sporting will have Académica at the Estádio do Jamor on Sunday 20th May for the Taça de Portugal. It is a welcome reprise from the shabby start to 2012.

SPORTING XI: Rui Patrício; João Pereira, Xandão (YC), Ânderson Polga (YC), Emiliano Insúa; Fabián Rinaudo (Sebastián Ribas 71′), Elias, Matías Fernández; André Carrillo (YC), Diego Capel (Evaldo Fabiano 52′, YC), Ricky van Wolfswinkel (Daniel Carriço 82′)
Subs Not Used: Marcelo Boeck, Renato Neto, André Martins, Marat Izmailov