Slick Sporting beat Boavista 3-0 at Alvalade

Sporting picked up a fourth consecutive win in league play with a fluid display full of verve and attacking intent to overwhelm Boavista in Lisbon tonight.

Goals from Nuno Santos, Salvador Agra (in his own net) and Paulinho gave the Lions a 3-0 win but the margin of victory could and should have been far greater with the home side creating and spurning a hatful of chances throughout the 90 minutes.

It was all change for Sporting yet again as Rúben Amorim made his now habitual 4 or 5 alterations to the starting line-up from the previous match. In came goalkeeper Franco Israel for the injured Adán, while Ousmane Diomande, Nuno Santos, Manuel Ugarte and Chermiti got the nod as Gonçalo Inácio, St. Juste, Trincão and Paulinho made way.

For Boavista, Pedro Malheiro and Reggie Cannon were recalled in place of Sasso and Gorré.

One-way traffic

Sporting were a whisker away from taking the lead in the very first minute, Chermiti’s header flicked onto the bar by Rafael Bracali.

The early chance set the tone for a sparkling first half from the hosts who swarmed all over Boavista. Chermiti missed badly in the 13th minute, firing wide from 10 yards out, but soon afterwards Nuno Santos showed him how it’s done with a spectacular finish.

Another quick passing move tore into the Boavista defence, with Santos producing an audacious rabona finish from 15 yards out that flew into the net off the post.

There was no slowing down from Sporting with Chermiti again missing a golden chance when clean through, Bracali spreading himself well to save.

Sporting’s domination was utter, and the only surprise was it took so long to score again. Santos was at the heart of it again, his cross from the left fired into his own net by the unlucky Agra who was desperately trying to clear the ball. Half time, 2-0 to Sporting. 

Sporting 3-0 Boavista highlights

No let-up from Sporting

There was no change to the pattern of the match after the break, Esgaio unlucky not to score a spectacular goal. The right wing-back cut inside from the right and hit a tremendous curling shot with his left foot that crashed against the top of the bar.

The chances kept coming, Trincão failing to get his shot off when set free by Edwards, and then Nuno Santos missing horribly when one-one-one with the Boavista goalkeeper, wildly hitting his shot high and wide.

A series of substitutions by both sides disrupted the flow of the game but Sporting finished with a flourish. A first-time Trincão shot flew inches wide before Paulinho completed the scoring with a well-constructed goal.

Tanlongo found Esgaio with a raking long diagonal pass, the marauding wing-back controlling the ball beautifully and rolling a perfect low cross into the path of Paulinho who couldn’t miss.

Analysis: Esgaio exemplifies improved mood at Alvalade

What a difference a run of good results makes. Sporting have had a forgettable season, but at last have found consistency in recent weeks, the spirited draw against Arsenal on Thursday a tangible example of a much more competitive team that is far more sure of itself than in previous months.

Wing-back Ricardo Esgaio serves as a microcosm of this renewed optimism running through the club. Mistake-prone and targeted for abuse by the fans in the first half of the season, the veteran has turned his form around and was arguably man of the match tonight, defending diligently and attacking with purpose.

With the emergence of Ousmane Diomandé, the fact St. Juste seems to have finally shaken off his injury jinx, Pedro Gonçalves finding his mojo again and positive contributions from bit-part players such as Mateo Tanlongo and Franco Israel tonight, suddenly Rúben Amorim has options with everyone ready and wanting to contribute.

The turnaround has almost certainly come too late for any reward in the form of silverware, barring an unlikely shock result against Arsenal on Thursday, but Sporting now seem to have a solid basis from which to attack next season, and should they maintain their form, it is still possible to get back into the fight for a Champions League qualification place.

By Tom Kundert, at the José Alvalade stadium


[1-0] Nuno Santos, 17’  

[2-0] Salvador Agra (own goal), 44’

[3-0] Paulinho, 90’