Euro watch: Sporting hit peak form
- 13 March 2012 12:51
- Posted by Alex Rowen
Sporting Lisbon prepared for their visit to the Etihad on Thursday by steamrolling rivals Guimaraes 5-0.
A five-star performance helped Ricardo Sa Pinto’s club claim an emphatic victory over a side that only three weeks ago conquered then-League leaders Benfica – the first team all season to do so.
Yet, the visitors rarely threatened and it proved a simple victory for City’s Round-of-16 opponents.
Ricky van Wolfswinkel’s 21st-minute strike opened the scoring for the hosts, but the Lions were unable to add to their tally before half-time.
Only five Portuguese clubs will qualify for next season’s European competitions and with just nine points separating Lisbon from sixth-placed Guimaraes, a win was essential and Sporting came good in the second half.
Having lost just once under their newly-appointed manager, the Portuguese outfit doubled their advantage five minutes after the break through former Valencia midfielder Matias Fernandez
....Sporting Lisbon win
Marat Izmailov scored from the spot to all-but secure three points for his side with just 20 minutes remaining, but Sporting hadn’t quite finished and a late Jeffren Suarez brace wrapped up the their most impressive win of the season.
The win extended the gap between Sporting and Guimaraes to nine points and offered Sa Pinto’s side the opportunity to start looking up the table rather than down it following a difficult spell under former manager Domingos Paciencia.
With the club’s next three games coming against sides in the bottom half, Lisbon will be looking to make ground on the teams currently occupying the Champions League berths.
For now at least, Sa Pinto’s immediate focus will undoubtedly be on how to preserve his side’s one goal lead over the Blues and book their place in the final eight of the competition.