Sporting made it three wins on the bounce with a regulation 2-0 victory over struggling Estoril Praia at Alvalade tonight.

The Lions therefore kept in touch at the top of the table and remain part of the discussion in betting glossary terms for Champions League qualification.

Goals in each half from Héctor Bellerín and Francisco Trincão gave Sporting the points. 

After his masterclass playing in an attacking position against Midtjylland in the Europa League last Thursday, Pedro Gonçalves was pulled back into midfield by Rúben Amorim with Manuel Ugarte suspended. Trincão joined Edwards and Paulinho in the front line, while Gonçalo Inácio started on the bench with Matheus Reis recalled, and Bellerín preferred over Esgaio at right wing-back.

Estoril’s caretaker coach Pedro Guerreiro, in for the sacked Nélson Veríssimo, handed a start to new signing Rafik Guitane.

Slow start

A low-key first half ensued, with little goalmouth action in the opening 35 minutes. Sporting dominated possession but could not make headway against the packed Estoril defence, Marcus Edwards looking the liveliest outlet to get something going.

In the 18th minute the English winger worked himself some space and swung a peach of a cross onto Paulinho’s head, the striker’s effort well saved by the diving Dani Figueira.

On a chilly night in Lisbon the sparse 22,313 crowd had to wait until close to half time for more action to warm them up. Edwards again was the instigator, curling a 20-yard shot inches past the post in the 38th minute. 

Sporting 2-0 Estoril match highlights

Two minutes later and the deadlock was broken. Spanish wing-back Héctor Bellerín had been getting forward all half and when he won the ball after a scramble in the box he took a step forward and struck a firm low shot across Figueira and into the net to give the hosts the lead.

Bellerín was marauding forward again soon afterwards, his cross leading to a Trincão header over the bar.

Estoril at last caused a modicum of danger just before the break, João Carvalho watching a looping ball cleared from a corner carefully and catching a volley powerfully with his right foot that flew over the bar.

Trincão comes alive

The second half started in the same vein, until Francisco Trincão pulled out something special in the 52nd minute. The winger had so far endured another frustratingly ineffective night, but picking up the ball near the left touchline, he ran horizontally across the pitch, jinked his way into the box past three defenders with the ball glued to his left foot, before smashing a fine finish into the roof of the net with his right boot. GOLAÇO! 2-0.

The goal visibly increased Trincão’s confidence, the former Braga and Barcelona man testing Figueira with a snapshot from 20 yards out that forced a diving save out of the Estoril goalkeeper.

Soon afterwards livewire Trincão nutmegged his marker in midfield, advanced, shot powerfully from the edge of the box but too close to Figueira who made the save.

A series of substitutions disrupted the flow of the game with the continuing subdued atmosphere matching a rather forgettable match. The visitors almost got back into it in the 83rd minute as an Estoril corner was only half-cleared. Sporting’s defenders were too slow to close down Tiago Araújo who needed no second invitation, and he smacked a shot against the foot of the post.

But it was Sporting who finished on top. A smart turn and shot by Chermiti drew another save from Figueira, with Edwards and Morita also working the goalkeeper in stoppage time, but no further scoring saw the Lions move to within five points of third-placed Braga, at least until the end of the Minho derby later tonight.

By Tom Kundert, at the José Alvalade stadium


[1-0] Héctor Bellerín, 40’

[2-0] Francisco Trincão, 52’


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