Two quick-fire goals past the 90-minute mark by substitutes Paulinho and Arthur Gomes gave Sporting victory over Tottenham Hotspur to make it two wins from two for the Lisbon club in Champions League Group D to the delight of an ecstatic crowd at the José Alvalade stadium.
It was no more than the hosts deserved after a mature display in which Rúben Amorim’s tactics proved spot on to contain the English team and give Sporting the platform to create the better chances, with Hugo Lloris denying Marcus Edwards a wonder goal in the first half and producing a magnificent save to thwart Pedro Porro. But Sporting would not be denied.
Amorim made three changes in relation to the 4-0 victory over Portimonense on the weekend, Manuel Ugarte, Pedro Porro and Matheus Reis returning to the starting line-up for Rochinha, Ricardo Esgaio and Luís Neto.
Tottenham lined up with a formidable array of attacking potential, Ricaharlison, Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min up front with attacking wingbacks Ivan Perisic and Emerson Royal expected to supply the bullets.
Amorim’s game plan
Two instances in the opening minutes set the pattern for the match. Sporting were content to play patiently out from the back, a strategy that entailed a level of risk as shown in the 4th minute when a mix-up allowed Bentancur a shooting opportunity, Gonçalo Inácio doing well to put his body on the line to block the shot. Inácio needed treatment but was fine to continue.
Then on 7 minutes Sporting sprung into action, a well-worked quick passing combination between Morita, Pote and Edwards created a shooting chance for Pote, his left-foot effort forcing Lloris into a diving save for a corner.
Both teams seemed happy to play it out that way, Spurs hoping to wear Sporting down, while the home side, although enjoying plenty of possession, were largely confined to their defensive half of the field with an eye on the chance to break.
Patient build-up play by Spurs saw Kane spread ball out wide, the cross coming in for Richarlison but the Brazilian’s header was comfortably saved by Adán.
Sporting immediately countered, Trincão progressing the ball forward, ignoring the chance to pass to Nuno Santos, instead cutting inside but shooting wide.
On the half-hour mark Emerson Royal caused danger twice. First a fantastic whipped cross skidded right across the face of the goal, and shortly afterwards it was Emerson again in the thick of the action, latching onto a cross in the six-yard box but he could not get any power on his effort from point-blank range and Adán was grateful to grasp the ball.
In the 41st minute the roles were reversed as Tottenham produced a lethal break, Kane playing in Richarlison who rounded Adán and slotted into net, but the celebrations from the away fans were cut short by an offside flag.
Edwards’ Maradona moment
The home fans were then off their seats as Marcus Edwards produced a moment of pure magic. The skilful forward, despite only seeing the ball sporadically, had served notice of his danger throughout the half.
In the 45th minute he picked up the ball just past the halfway line, span around rapidly and danced past three Tottenham players, played a one-two with Francisco Trincão as he sped into the box, shimmied past another defender and bore down on goal, where only a sharp Lloris save prevented him from celebrating a wonder goal against his former club.
Tottenham came out strongly in the second half, applying heavy pressure on the Sporting goal for the first time in the match. Emerson got on the end of a dangerous Kane cross but the calm Adán casually saved his header.
Almost immediately the same two protagonists were at it, Adán this time having to show quick reactions to keep out the Brazilian’s effort after Sporting had been caught napping on free kick swung behind the defence.
Kane then ran into the box, his fierce angled shot saved by Adán and the ball scrambled clear. Richarlison was next to try his luck, but his shot dribbled well wide.
Having withstood the pressure, Sporting at last created danger at the other end of the pitch, Pedro Gonçalves bursting forward from the halfway line, but he did not get enough power on his shot to trouble Lloris.
Play again switched to the other end of the pitch, Perisic whipping over a low cross that just evaded a slew of sliding Tottenham attackers. Richarlison then sent a diving header wide.
Super subs take centre stage
Amorim brought on Sotiris Alexandropoulis for Morita and Paulinho for Trincão and the home side seemed to get a second wind, with Pedro Porro, usually such a vital attacking weapon for the hosts, at last venturing forward with more purpose.
Porro thought he had scored a dramatic late winner when he received an excellent cross-field pass from Alexandropoulis, dribbled past his man, cut across the top of the box and curled a left-foot shot towards the far corner, Hugo Lloris launching himself into a brilliant full-length save to push it around the post.
It mattered not. From the resulting corner Pedro Gonçalves’ delivery was met by a perfect header from Paulinho that flew into the corner of the net and sparked wild celebrations in the stands.
With only a couple of the three minutes of stoppage time remaining, Sporting fans were willing their team to hold on, Amorim taking off Edwards and throwing on recent signing from Estoril Arthur Gomes for his debut.
It may have been just to eat up a bit more time, but Arthur had other ideas, picking up the ball on the left flank, dribbling at speed into the box, bamboozling two defenders and calmly slotting the ball past Lloris. 2-0 Sporting and the José Alvalade was in party mode – on and off the pitch.
By Tom Kundert at the Alvalade stadium
[1-0] Paulinho, 90’
[2-0] Arthur Gomes, 92’