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Thursday, 05 August 2010 22:55

Nervy Sporting grab late winner

Sporting 2-1 Nordsjaelland (Sporting win 3-1 on aggregate)

Maniche celebrationsIt was a classic game of two halves at the Alvalade tonight. A bright opening period and a Helder Postiga goal seemed to set Sporting on their way to a comfortable Europa League victory.
But Danish opponents Nordsjaelland came back strongly, equalised through Lawan and threatened to pull off a shock until Maniche’s stoppage time pile-driver made the game safe for the hosts.
Paulo Sergio took his place on the bench for his first official home game as Sporting coach in front of just under 30,000 fans on a balmy Lisbon night. After surviving an early scare when Nicki Nielson raced through on goal and blasted over from a tight angle the Lions were soon into their stride.
On the left flank Valdes and Evaldo were combining well, as were Joao Pereira and Vukcevic on the opposite wing, while Liedson and Postiga buzzed in and around the box with intent. Vukcevic did well to wriggle past his marker before firing into the side-netting in the 18th minute.

Postiga finds his mojo

Shortly afterwards the two strikers combined well to give Sporting the lead. Postiga showed good footwork to put Liedson through, whose initial shot was saved by Hansen. Liedson’s follow-up effort ballooned over the goalkeeper and fell perfectly for the onrushing Postiga to nod into the net.
It has thus taken the former Portugal international just two matches to match his total goal tally of last season, and the former FC Porto man is playing with confidence once again. This was never so evident as in the 38th minute when Postiga picked up the ball on the halfway line, looked up, saw Hansen off his line and immediately hit a sweet shot that the scrambling goalkeeper had to tip over the bar to prevent an early contender for goal of season.
Valdes and Vukcevic also went close and Sporting will have felt they deserved more than a one-goal lead as they trotted off the pitch at the break.


The second half saw a complete transformation, as Sporting lost their shape and Nordsjaelland gradually grew in confidence. Patricio flapped at a cross but did well to recover and save acrobatically from Mikkelsen, while moments later Nielsen fluffed a glaring chance as he completely missed his kick from point-blank range.
By this time Sporting’s attacking threat was limited to a series of long-range shots from Maniche, and the visitors made the home side pay for their lethargy in the 78th minute as a ball over the top caught out Sporting’s defence and Lawan raced through to dink the ball past Patricio.
Suddenly it was panic stations at the Alvalade. The supporters let their discontent show as they knew one more goal from Nordsjaelland would put the modest Danish outfit ahead in the tie, and Nielsen was inches away from scoring it in the dying minutes with a cross-shot that beat Patricio and sped just past the post.

Maniche thunderbolt

Only in stoppage time were Sporting able to breathe easy thanks to former Benfica and Porto star Maniche. Matias Fernandez released Evaldo with a neat pass. The left-back raced towards the bye-line before sliding an intelligent low cross into the path of the veteran midfielder, who smashed the ball into the top corner with the outside of his right foot.
Sporting, along with Maritimo and FC Porto, will find out their play-off opponents tomorrow, but Paulo Sergio will have learned that the Lions have plenty of improving to do if they want to enjoy a successful season.
by Tom Kundert
Rui Patrício, Joao Pereira, Daniel Carrico, Polga, Evaldo, Andre Santos, Maniche, Vukcevic (Yannick Djalo, 61), Valdes (Matias Fernandez, 71), Helder Postiga, Liedson
Yellow Cards: Liedson
Hansen, Kildentoft, Parkhurst, Daniel Jensen, Bengtsson, Patrice Bernier (Matti Neilsen, 67), Adu, Stokholm, Mikkelsen (Granskov, 84), Andreas Laudrup (Lawan, 63), Nicki Nielsen
Yellow Cards: Adu
[1-0] Postiga, 23
[1-1] Lawan, 78
[2-1] Maniche, 91
Comments (9)
Porto - Europa Group Stage
9 Friday, 06 August 2010 13:52
Correction....UEFA Champions League Play-off losers also directly qualify for the group stage.
Porto - Europa Group Stage
8 Friday, 06 August 2010 13:45
Mateus- Only the defending Champions Atletico Madrid are directly in the Group Stage. All others need to qualify.
7 Friday, 06 August 2010 12:59
Congratulations to Sporting.
They've looked better this preseason, but the key is to advance.
I don't think that the old legs they are counting on will be able to hold up, but this isn't the forum for it.

I wish them the best. The further they go, the better the Portuguese League will be.
6 Friday, 06 August 2010 04:58
Why doesn't Porto have auto entry into the Europa group stage?
Despite the Win, Sporting Need To Step It Up
5 Friday, 06 August 2010 03:23
I'm glad Sporting won the game, but this game shouldn't have been a struggle for them considering their lowly opposition. They definitely should have scored more goals (although Maniche's goal was a beauty). What Sporting needs is a pure striker who is physically imposing. Although Postiga is in good form right now, I don't see it lasting throughout the season. Liedson is great, but cannot play as a lone striker and he is becoming rather inconsistent (completely understandable though, given his age). It would be great to see Sporting make a swoop for Makakula from Benfica. They could probably get him for under 4 mil.
4 Friday, 06 August 2010 03:03
Nice job Sporting as well as Maritimo. Lets keep moving along. Still 74 teams left. I also like to mention Quaresma scoring for Besiktas.. was a beauty. The 2 year misery is over. He even changed his look. I'm sure he'll be back for the euro qualifiers.
3 Friday, 06 August 2010 01:46
Liedson made Postiga known this game. Other than that I don't think he's anything special I don't expect him to be called up for the national team this September.
2 Friday, 06 August 2010 00:10
Helder postiga had a very poor season, but when he is in form and isn't injured, he can be a very classy striker. He also has played very well in big games for portugal. If he continues his good form, I wouldn't mind seeing him get called back to the seleccao. Other than almeida and maybe makukula, I cant really think of any decent portuguese strikers in their prime.
Geriatric goals
1 Friday, 06 August 2010 00:06
Ha Ha, the old boys still got it!!!!

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