It was a dramatic night of for Portuguese clubs as both Sporting and Rio Ave were eliminated from European competition. Sporting suffered an embarrassing defeat at home, with Sebastián Coates’ sending off helping LASK Linz win 4-1 at the Estádio José Alvalade.
Further north, Rio Ave could not have come closer to eliminating AC Milan, eventually losing out on a prolonged penalty shootout. The home side had done well to take the game to extra time, and were winning the game until the 120th minute.
Sporting 1-4 LASK Linz
Times have changed since Sporting and LASK Linz last faced off back in December 2019 – and now the fixture was a must win. The Sporting team certainly changed a lot since that last game with Sebastián Coates the only player who started that disappointing 3-0 defeat in Linz also starting this evening. Rúben Amorim returned to the bench and Nuno Santos took the place of the injured Jovane Cabral.
The game started very poorly for Sporting, who conceded from the first chance in the game. A LASK corner was headed on at the near post and captain Gernot Trauner was there to finish easily the visitors.
It took a while for Sporting to find rhythm, Luciano Vietto having an effort well-saved by Alexander Schlager with 26 minutes gone. Nuno Santos should have put Sporting ahead when he was played through by Wendel, but the new signing’s decision to square the ball proved to be incorrect. However, Nuno Santos did set up Sporting’s equalizer with a great cross from the right headed in well by 18-year old Tiago Tomás.
The second half turned into a disaster for Sporting – all in the space of ten minutes. A quick attack down the right for Linz saw a ball crossed in the air. Pedro Porro should have done much better with it but instead the ball fell to Marko Raguz to fire LASK into the lead.
It seemed like an uphill struggle for Sporting but soon it became an impossible climb. First, Sebastián Coates received a red card for bringing down Husein Balic. The Uruguayan may have got a toe to the ball, but it wasn’t enough to convince the Belarusian referee. Next, Peter Michorl scored with a furiously hit freekick that Antonio Adán had no chance of saving. Sporting were completely finished just a few minutes later, this time Andreas Gruber with a stylish chip over Adán when he was played clean through behind the Sporting defence.
The final score could have been much worse for Sporting on what was a humiliating exit from European competition. Rúben Amorim still has a lot of work to do to revitalise this team.
Sporting: Antonio Adán; Zouhair Feddal, Sebastián Coates, Luís Neto; Pedro Porro, Matheus Nunes (Andraž Šporar, 72’), Wendel, Nuno Mendes; Tiago Tomás, Luciano Vietto (Pedro Gonçalves, 67’), Nuno Santos (Antunes, 78’)
LASK Linz: Alexander Schlager; Petar Filipovic (Andrés Andrade), Philipp Wiesinger, Gernot Trauner; Reinhold Ranftl, Peter Michorl (Peter Michorl), James Holland, René Renner; Andreas Gruber (Patrick Plojer, 74’), Marko Raguz, Husein Balic
[0-1] Gernot Trauner, 14’
[1-1] Tiago Tomás, 42'
[1-2] Marko Raguz, 58’
[1-3] Peter Michorl, 65'
[1-4] Andreas Gruber, 68’
Rio Ave 2-2 (8-9 in penalty shootout) AC Milan
Rio Ave put on a fine performance to beat Besiktas on penalties last week, but it would take something really special for them to knock out AC Milan on a blustery night in Vila do Conde. It almost happened. Lucas Piazón and Bruno Moreira both started after being on the bench against Guimarães. Meanwhile Rafael Leão started from the bench for the visitors who made just a few changes from their game with Crotone.
Initially, the game didn’t look like it would produce many special moments. The first half consisted largely of a midfield battle with Mário Silva’s Rio Ave side working hard. However, things got a lot more interesting after the restart. Just six minutes after the break, the Italian side took the lead. A Milan corner fell to Alexis Saelemaekers to finish well past Pawel Kieszek.
The home side didn’t give up though, and they got their reward in the 71st minute. Lucas Piazón laid the ball off to Francisco Geraldes, who absolutely hammered the ball past Gigi Donnarumma. Rio Ave almost won the game in the last second through Aderllan Santos, but the Brazilian’s shot went just wide.
Golo do @RioAve_FC! Golo do @chicogeraldes18! QUE GOLAÇO. Chico iguala o marcador e leva esperança aos vila-condenses.#sporttvportugal #uel #uefaeuropaleague #europaleague #ligaeuropa #rioavefc #rioave #acmilan #milan #franciscogeraldes pic.twitter.com/FIZv2nngg8— SPORT TV (@SPORTTVPortugal) October 1, 2020
Rio Ave were in dreamland just after the start of extra time. Carlos Mané robbed the ball in midfield and substitute Gelson Dala picked it up. The Angolan got a little lucky with the bounce but there was no luck involved as he slid the ball past Donnarumma to put Rio Ave 2-1 up in extra time.
From that point on it was all Milan, as they tried their best to get back in the game. It looked for all the world like they were heading for a shock exit until the final minute. A dangerous ball in the box was deliberately handled by Toni Borevkovic, the Croatian defender receiving his second yellow card. Hakan Çalhanoğlu made no mistake from the spot to take the game to penalties.
If you thought extra time was dramatic, it was followed by a truly remarkable penalty shootout. Both teams coolly dispatched all of their penalties. Milan were taking their kicks first, and Filipe Augusto’s paneka under pressure for Rio Ave’s fifth penalty was the highlight of the regular series.
This took the shout into sudden death, with goals from all sides until the 8th set of penalties when Lorenzo Colombo skied his spot kick. This was a huge chance for Rio Ave to go through, but Nélson Monte’s penalty hit both posts before going wide.
Next, Rafael Leão and Ivo Pinto buried their efforts which meant it was down to the goalkeepers. Gigi Donnarumma missed his shot, another chance for Rio Ave to win but Pawel Kieszek’s attempt was almost a carbon copy of Donnarumma’s.
Pawel Kieszek did very well to save Ismaël Bennacer’s next penalty. Rio Ave had used all of their takers to it was down to Francisco Geraldes to put the home side through after having scored in the shootout already, but his shot bounced back off the post.
Just when it seemed like it would never end, defender Simon Kjaer scored Milan’s 9th penalty (out of 12 in total) and Donnarumma was able to stop Aderllan Santos’ effort to knock Rio Ave out of the Europa League after an immense effort from Mário Silva’s team.
by Richard Cole
Rio Ave: Pawel Kieszek; Ivo Pinto, Aderllan Santos, Toni Borevkovic, Nélson Monte; Filipe Augusto, Tarantini (Nikola Jambor, 75’); Lucas Piazón, Diego Lopes (Francisco Geraldes, 66’), Carlos Mané; Bruno Moreira (Gelson Dala, 85’)
AC Milan: Gigi Donnarumma; Davide Calabria, Simon Kjaer, Matteo Gabbia, Theo Hernández; Franck Kessié, Ismaël Bennacer; Samu Castillejo (Brahim Díaz), Hakan Çalhanoğlu, Alexis Saelemaekers (Lorenzo Colombo, 95’); Daniel Maldini (Rafael Leão, 67’)
[0-1] Alexis Saelemaekers, 52’
[1-1] Francisco Geraldes, 71’
[2-1] Gelson Dala, 91’
[2-2] Hakan Çalhanoğlu, 120+1’