In-form CSKA have a vital away goal but Sporting are ahead on aggregate after a fast paced and highly entertaining game at the Alvalade to make Jorge Jesus 3 for 3 as Sporting manager.Colombian
Teófilo Gutíerrez put Sporting ahead early on before Rui Patrício saved a penalty. Seydou Doumbia equalised for CSKA but Islam Slimani grabbed the winner as Sporting left it late again ahead of tough second leg.
Sporting haven’t had the best of times in Champions League qualifying rounds, having not progressed from shtiks stage since the 1997. Not to mention, Sporting’s terrible record against Russian opposition and, of course, that UEFA Cup final 10 years ago.
Jorge Jesus named the same starting XI that featured in the games against Benfica and Tondela so far this season. Leonid Slutsky gave a first start to the returning Seydou Doumbia for the Ivorian’s second stint at the club. The forward had returned to the club in CSKA’s recent derby win over CSKA.
The home side, in front of an atmospheric Alvalade, began with rapid aggressive football and got their reward early on when Bryan Ruiz’ excellent pass found André Carrillo. The Peruvian found Téofilo Gutiérrez to scramble the ball home to give Sporting the best of starts.
CSKA responded well though and their pace going forward with Zoran Tosic and Ahmed Musa was a great threat to Sporting’s full backs as they tried to unlock the Jesus offside trap.
It was Zoran Tosic who won a penalty for CSKA after 26 minutes when he was brought down by Jefferson. Seydou Doumbia stepped up to score his first goal for CSKA since his return but Rui Patrício did excellently well to palm away.
The game opened up even more with exciting fast football coming from both sides. Islam Slimani had an excellent chance to double Sporting’s lead but fired wide and Ahmed Musa had a powerful shot fizz just wide of Patrício’s post.
Sporting’s offside trap was broken in the 41st minute to give CSKA the equaliser, Doumbia finding himself almost entirely alone in the Sporting half and then cooly rounding Rui Patrício and slotting into give CSKA what could be a vital away goal.
There was a similar energy in the second-half as i the first, though CSKA sat deeper, looking to counter attack when possible.
Bryan Ruiz felt he should have had a penalty when he was fouled in the area. Indeed, there were similarities with that incident and the original penalty from CSKA. This proved to be the last contribution from Bryan Ruiz as Jorge Jesus brought on Alberto Aquilani for the Italian’s debut.
Sergei Ignashevich almost gave CSKA a second goal in the 68th minute when he had a free header from a corner, but the Russian defender’s effort when just wide.
Sporting were aggrieved to have another penalty not given, when Vasili Berezutski used his hand to prevent Slimani a headed effort on target. Again Cüneyt Çakir waved away the protests, though this was the clearest penalty incident of the night.
Jorge Jesus threw his last roll of the dice bringing on home grown youngsters Carlos Mané and Gelson Martins for Teófilo Gutiérrez and João Mário to try and grab another goal.
The plan almost back-fired when CSKA again found space behind the Sporting defence, this time Rui Patrício preventing Doumbia from heading the Moscow side ahead.
Sporting were the team looking most likely to score though, with plenty of possession but finding CSKA a tough nut to crack. That changed in the 83rd minute when Alberto Aquilani chipped the ball forward to Slimani, who controlled well, playing a one-two on the edge of the area with Carrillo before finishing past Igor Akinfeev.
Sporting held on to what could well be a tight lead before facing CSKA in Moscow. Though, with their vastly improved rapid attacking movements may fancy themselves to score against CSKA once again. Jorge Jesus’ transformation of the teams system and playing style is becoming all the more evident.
Sporting XI: Rui Patrício; João Pereira (YC), Naldo, Paulo Oliveira, Jefferson (YC); Adrien Silva, João Mário (Carlos Mané, 76′); André Carrillo, Bryan Ruiz (Alberto Aquilani, 65′); Teófilo Gutiérrez (Scored 12′, YC) (Gelson Martins, 76′), Islam Slimani (Scored 82′, YC)
Substitutes Not Used: Marcelo Boeck, Tobias Figueiredo, Ricardo Esgaio, Fredy Montero