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Monday, 19 September 2011 22:28

Sporting scrape past Rio Ave

Rio Ave 2-3 Sporting

van WolfswinkelSporting clocked up a third successive victory in a highly entertaining clash in Vila do Conde tonight. Two goals in the opening three minutes from Schaars and Wolfswinkel seemed to set the Lions up for a comfortable win against the Liga ZON Sagres basement dwellers. But Rio Ave showed tremendous spirit to storm back and level the scores, thanks to goals from Christian and Yazalde. Giant American centre-back Onyewu then crashed in a 73rd-minute header to give Sporting all three points.

Sporting made the best possible start. After only 90 seconds a corner hit low by Elias was smashed into the net by Stijn Schaars, the Dutch midfielder scoring his first goal for his new club. Just seconds after the restart and Sporting were at it again. This time a floated Diego Capel cross fell to the feet of Ricky van Wolfswinkel, and the other Sporting Dutchman made no mistake from close range.

Things soon got even worse for Rio Ave after a clash between Oguchi Onyewu and Joao Tomas. Onyewu’s trailing foot caught the forward’s nose, and the veteran forward had to be replaced by Christian Atsu. To their credit, Rio Ave did not let the disappointing start affect the way they went about the rest of the half. As the half drew on the home side got into the game and started to create chances.

Allied to the fact Sporting took their foot of the pedal, some moments in particular will be a cause of concern for Domingos Paciencia, especially two mix-ups involving Rui Patricio, who had a poor game by his high standards. A miscommunication between the goalkeeper and Joao Pereira almost gave Christian Atsu the chance to score, and when Patricio wildly missed his opportunity to claim the ball, he was grateful to see Tarantini’s free header fall just wide of the left-hand post. As the players trooped off at half time, in spite of the hosts’ terrible opening five minutes, Carlos Brito’s side had ended the half on top.

Rio Ave started the second half brightly too, and in the 49th minute substitute Christian Atsu pulled one back for the home side. His shot from a tight angle on the left hand side of goal should have been parried away by Rui Patricio, but the Sporting goalkeeper failed to get a strong enough hand to it and it flew past him to give Rio Ave hope.

Onyewu let-off

Shortly afterwards Oguchi Onyewu and Sporting could count themselves very lucky that the giant centre-back was not sent off. Already on a yellow card, Onyewu fouled Christian Atsu when the lively forward was in a good position on the edge of the penalty box. Referee, Hugo Miguel, who had been happy to book players throughout the game, surprisingly did not produce a second yellow for the American.

Domingos Paciencia could see that Rio Ave were now having the better of the game and reacted by making his first change, bringing on the more defensive-minded Bruno Pereirinha for Andre Carrillo. Rio Ave continued to push forward at every opportunity, pressuring the Sporting players high up the pitch, with Sporting trying to grab a third goal through pacey counter attacks. Paciencia’s side went close when Ricky van Wolfswinkel’s shot was well blocked by the Haitian right back Jean Sony.

In the 63rd minute Rio Ave got a well-deserved equaliser and this time Patricio was not to blame. Christian Atsu again did well on the left to get the ball past Bruno Pereirinha and fizz in a low cross that Yazalde was quicker to reach than the Sporting defence, beating the goalkeeper from close range.

Conceding the equaliser meant Sporting had to push forwards and the visitors were unlucky not to retake the lead just two minutes later when Joao Pereira sent in a low cross that Ricky van Wolfswinkel only marginally failed to make contact with. Diego Capel was next to go close for Sporting, with goalkeeper Paulo Santos doing well to turn his shot around the post in the 74th minute. Capel took the resulting corner and Oguchi Onyewu rose above the Rio Ave players to powerfully head home and restore Sporting’s lead.

It went from bad to worse for Rio Ave minutes later when Jean Sony was given his second yellow card of the match for a dive. Carlos Brito reacted to Sony’s sending off by bringing on midfielder Braga for Kelvin. Just seconds after the sending off came a moment that summed up Rui Patricio’s night. A simple back pass towards the goalkeeper took a huge bobble off the Estadio do Rio Ave pitch leaving Patricio kicking thin air. Sporting were lucky this happened just wide of the goalmouth and Patricio avoided further embarrassment.

Late chances

Rio Ave were less of a threat to Sporting whilst down to 10 men but in the dying moments of the game they created two chances to grab an equaliser. Firstly, Tiago Pinto found himself in room on the left hand side and fired a hard shot at goal but Patricio redeemed himself somewhat by making a fine save to turn the ball round the post. With the last throw of the dice Tarantini went close as he just missed out on connecting with a cross, but it was not to be and Sporting returned to Lisbon with the three points.

Carlos Brito will be happy with what he saw. It was certainly Rio Ave’s best performance of the season and the manager will feel that his team should be able to earn their first win in the not too distant further. Sporting, on the other hand, appear to have not quite turned the corner yet. Domingos Paciencia will be displeased with the attitude of his players after having gone 2-0 up early in the game, letting Rio Ave get back to 2-2, and he knows there is plenty of room for improvement as the team continues to gel together.

Rio Ave:
Paulo Santos, Jean Sony, Gaspar, Jeferson, Tiago Pinto, Wires, Tarantini, Vitor Gomes (Dinei, 85), Kelvin (Braga, 77), Joao Tomas (Christian, 6), Yazalde.

Rui Patricio, Joao Pereira, Rodriguez, Onyewu, Insua, Elias (Andre Santos, 79), Rinaudo, Schaars, Diego Capel (Matias Fernandez, 85), Carrillo (Pereirinha), Wolfswinkel
[0-1] Schaars, 2
[0-2] Wolfswinkel, 3
[1-2] Christian, 49
[2-2] Yazalde, 63
[2-3] Onyewu, 73
by Richard Cole
Comments (4)
4 Tuesday, 20 September 2011 18:53
Yes, NJ, I'm glad there was no knee-jerk reaction by the ref. I am happy for Gooch, it is good to see a starter for the American NT playing in Portugal. I really hope he keeps adapting and playing. I love the fact that he is a very tall and imposing CB, who is a huge aerial presence. I mean, he already broke Joao Tomas' nose! The rest of the league is going to have to get used to dealing with him.
Oops, I erred!
3 Tuesday, 20 September 2011 13:48
I mistakenly wrote that Pereirinha started the match when he indeed came on for Carillo who actually got the start. I forgot that Carillo was the starter because I clearly am so enamored with Pereirinha!
Nice job
2 Tuesday, 20 September 2011 13:06
Bubba thanks for the additional insight.

I saw that 4,308 were at the game, so it's nice to see an uptick in Sportings traveling fans. They should be drawing on the raod much better than they are, but it should increase as the season wears on.

I too was happy to see Gooch score. Sporting could also see a big uptick due to Gooch. The US is still an untapped football market, and fans are beggining to follow their US Int'l squad players more and more.
As per example, Chievo (Serie A) has seen their web traffic increase 325% since they signed Michael Bradley. Imagine what could happen if he actually does something.

The revenue possibilities for Sporting should increase. Granted, him playing and the team winning will cure everything.

The question I pose, is where's Sporting's president after the match congratulating the ref for not making a knee jerk decision and send off Gooch?
All was good thsi weekend?
Fun Game to Watch
1 Tuesday, 20 September 2011 00:51
Two goals by Sporting in the opening three minutes, can't ask for a better start to the game. Schaars and Wolfswinkel are a nice Dutch duo, and both played the whole game and did well.

First the negatives. Again, the CB's are still getting their kinks out, and it is evident in their play. They shouldn't have been out of position when they basically allowed Rio Ave's second goal to occur. Rui Patricio looked a bit tentative and was out of position, as he was a bit too far out when Rio Ave scored their first goal. The CB's and the goalkeeping has been the biggest concern so far, but with time and familiarity with playing with each other, I expect this to be remedied.

On the positive side, the offense and midfield has been playing really well. I love that as soon as Postiga and Djalo were sent packing, the goals have been hitting the back of the net. Since they left, Sporting have scored 8 goals in three games and have won all three games in a row. I love that Paciencia has put his trust in Wolfswinkel, as he has been playing really well and Elias was a great signing, I think he will keep showing more and more.

Again, Pereirinha was given his third consecutive start, and had another good game. Pereirinha provides Paciencia much flexibility and he is a good option on the field because his natural position is right midfield but he can play right back or right wing, and Paciencia has been starting him as a right winger. While Izmailov deals with his nagging injuries and Matias Fernandez is getting match ready and Jeffren is recovering from injury, Pereirinha adds crucial depth to the squad and he is doing something right as Paciencia is starting him. I really like his play.

I absolutely loved Gooch's header that resulted in Sporting's third goal from a corner kick. He is a towering behemouth, and his height advantage will pay further dividends as the season progresses. There was no way Rio Ave's keeper could have stopped that missle of a header. I hope he keeps adapting and playing well. His joyous celebration after scoring was nice to see.

It was great to see all of the travelling Sporting supporters cheering the team on. Three in a row and now we have Vitoria de Setubal on Saturday. Let's keep on rolling, one game at a time.

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