From the home of Mourinho, Ronaldo and Xavier
Brilliant. Surprising. Undisputed. Three adjectives that could briefly and accurately describe Sporting CP’s Europa League performance against Everton last Thursday.
With the tie delicately poised after the Scouse side claimed a narrow 2-1 win in the first leg, Sporting needed to show something special in order to advance to the last 16.
After all, while this Everton side had defeated Chelsea and Manchester United, the Lions hadn’t won in seven consecutive matches.
But with the odds stacked against them, Sporting produced their best performance of the season and gave their supporters a reason to smile with a resounding 3-0 success, courtesy of goals from Miguel Veloso, Pedro Mendes and Matías Fernández.
Everton had no arguments to prevent Sporting's midfield – probably their strongest department – from dictating play and controlling the flow of the match. Mendes, Veloso, Moutinho and Izmailov are very talented players and when they’re fired up, they can propel their team to a good result.
Even if only for one night, the Lions were able to forget the fact they were recently trashed by both their arch rivals to reign supreme and earn the plaudits.
Considering how difficult this season has been for the club, this victory should be celebrated and used as a platform to build the future, but it shouldn’t be enough to distort reality.
To simply see this season in a different light after one good night borders on delusion.
After the match, Carlos Carvalhal hailed his side as one of the Europe’s finest and didn’t waste any time stoking the fire ahead of the league match against Porto by saying that their objective “is and will always be the victory”.
‘Confidence’ some may argue, but those words contradict the speech given just one day before when he denied that the Toffees clash was all or nothing.
Sporting have already been knocked out from both domestic cups and trail leaders Benfica by 20 points so their only incentive to look forward this season was the Europa League.
Accepting a hypothetical defeat in a crucial match is accepting the lack of success at the club and disrespecting the supporters and directors who wanted to see more ambition after the departure of Paulo Bento.
The club have tied to use humble quotes to justify humble results, but when people started to accept the fact that Sporting were unable to compete financially with Benfica and Porto they broke with their traditionally conservative transfer policy and splashed €11.5M in January.
It should be easy enough to decide. Either Sporting are a genuine title contender that has to meet high expectations, or they should simply settle for a Europa League place and a squad full of academy products.
Just don’t change your position after a great or dreadful result.
Having said that, congratulations to the club and bring on Atlético Madrid!
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Absoultely shocking crowd for there home games this year(average less than 24,000) and to have only a 17,000 at the gamne against everton when the score was 2-1 from the first was disgarceful and 7,000 of that was everton .
hardly met anyone in the city of lisbon who didnt support benfica.
call me bitter fine, but calling it as it was
big team my *rse.
we got beat by a pub team and becaUSE WE HAVE A MANGER WHO CANNOT MANAGE IN EUROPE.
Acedemy is one of (if not the) best in Portugal.
Support is matching Benfica and probably surpassing Porto.
Have a broad foreign fan-base
Have been winning titles (a lot in recent years) when O Glorioso were too busy pushing of the increasing debts.
So yes, Sporting is a big club....
Had Cristian Rodriguez played earlier in the game instead of coming on when the score was 3-nil, I doubt that Sporting would have defeated Porto so easily. Rodriguez is instrumental to Porto's success, they just got fooled into thinking they could get away with giving him extra rest.
There's rumours of Vilas Boas and Domingos going to Sporting... Any chance of Carvalhal staying after the teams recent resurgence?
Also heard a silly rumour that Paulo Bento is going to Porto.... miss his interviews.... they were so bad they were comical...
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