Sporting keep pressure on Braga with home success over in-form Famalicão

Sporting 2-1 Famalicão

Sporting have maintained the gap between themselves and third-placed Sporting de Braga at seven points in the race for Champions League football after defeating Famalicão 2-1 this Sunday at Alvalade.

The Lions started brightly with a timely goal from Hidemasa Morita in the first half before also striking early in the second period through Ricardo Esgaio - nabbing his first professional goal for Sporting’s first team.

A Sebastian Coates own goal tested Sporting’s mettle, however, after halving their advantage, but the men in green and white were able to hold firm and make it back-to-back wins going into the final stretch of the season.

Coming up against a Famalicão side that had won three of its last four league games, Rúben Amorim opted to tackle the match without a recognised striker, meanwhile Gonçalo Inácio earned his spot back in defence ahead of the Brazilian Matheus Reis.

The Lions’ attack found its groove early on and left their mark on the game as early as the 18th minute, courtesy of a close-range finish from Morita.

Waiting in anticipation inside the box, the Japanese midfielder took full advantage of Marcus Edwards’ dancing inside the box in before pulling a cross back, finding the midfielder with success before firing past Luiz Júnior.

Famalicão barked back at the Lions, catching Ousmane Diomande out at the entrance of his own box before taking aim at goal via Santiago Colombatto, denied only by the fingertips of Antonio Adán.

En route to the half-time interval, it was Luiz Júnior’s turn to star between the sticks, rushing off his line to deny Pedro Gonçalves from taking a 2-0 lead with him into the break.

Amorim mixed his cards up early in the second in search of a comforting second goal, almost provided by Nuno Santos with a first-time strike from the edge of the box that whistled just wide of the mark in the 58th minute.

Just a couple of minutes later, however, Sporting completed a devastating attacking phase to great effect, finished off by a Ricardo Esgaio rebound that earns the oft-maligned full-back his first ever goal for the Lisbon giants.

Famalicão found a way back in under fortunate circumstances as a teasing cross from Martín Aguirregabiria was diverted past Adán via the outstretched leg of Sebastian Coates, taking the ball into his own net in the 68th minute.

Jhonder Cádiz rang the alarm bells with finely-executed volley from a central position moments later, but the striker’s hands soon found themselves raised to his head in disbelief of Adán’s crucial stop.

The Lions were able to soak up all else that Famalicão had to throw at them in a tense end for both sides, securing a 2-1 victory versus a side that now falls into 7th place, two points behind Vitória.

By Patrick Ribeiro

Sporting XI: Antonio Adán - Gonçalo Inácio, Sebastian Coates, Ousmane Diomande (Matheus Reis, 55’) - Nuno Santos, Manuel Ugarte (Mateo Tanlongo, 75’), Hidemasa Morita, Ricardo Esgaio (Héctor Bellerín, 82) - Pedro Gonçalves (Youssef Chermiti, 55’), Francisco Trincão (Arthur Gomes, 82’), Marcus Edwards

Famalicão XI: Luiz Júnior - Rúben Lima (Francisco Moura, 60’), Otavio, Riccieli, Martín Aguirregabiria - Gustavo Assunção, Santiago Colombatto (Zaydou Youssouf, 45’), Gustavo Sá - Pablo (Iván Jaime, 60’), Léo Sanca, Deni Junior (Jhonder Cádiz, 60’)