Euro watch: Sporting revival continues
- 28 February 2012 11:02
- Posted by Alex Rowen
City’s Round-of-16 opponents Sporting Lisbon continued their mini-revival this weekend with a narrow victory over struggling Rio Ave.
The result proved to be their third consecutive 1-0 win under new manager Ricardo Sa Pinto who continues to enjoy a 100% record as the Lions newly appointed boss.
Having won just two in 11 before Pinto took charge, Sporting followed up last week’s domestic scalp of Pacos de Ferreira with progression in the next round of the Europe League by seeing of Polish outfit Legia Warsaw.
The club’s third home game in a week proved equally as successful as Marat Izmailov’s solitary strike secured a much needed three points for the Lisbon club.
Though Rio Ave had just one win in seven to their name prior to this weekend’s meeting, former player-turned-manager Pinto will consider the win a vital one as his side go in search of Champions League qualification.
Sporting now sit fourth, level on points with fifth placed Maritimo and eight points adrift of Braga who occupy third. Though their hopes of claiming the title have been all but destroyed by their dismal start to 2012, next week’s trip to relegation-threatened Vitoria Setubal should prove the perfect opportunity to apply pressure on the sides above them and prepare themselves for the visit of Roberto Mancini’s side.
Lisbon may be eleven points behind City’s latest European victims Porto, but the Blues will have to be wary of the Lions and Mancini will undoubtedly make his side aware of the goal-scoring threat posed by Dutch striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel. The former Utrecht forward has seven goals to his name this season and will be hoping to stain Joe Hart’s impressive record at the back.
Injury to regular fixture and former Newcastle player Oguchi Onyewu could see the defender sit the next eight weeks out on the sidelines – news that should mean City’s strikers have an easier time of it than they may have expected.
While the Etihad faithful will also be relieved that former Blue Valeri Bojinov moved on loan to Lecce during the winter transfer window and so will play no part against his former club.