Sporting salvage three late points after Gyökeres stars in glowing debut

Sporting have kicked off their 2023/24 campaign with a 3-2 victory at home to Vizela, this Saturday night, courtesy of a Viktor Gyökeres double and a 99th-minute winner from Paulinho.

The Green & Whites came out of the blocks quickly with Gyökeres bagging a brace after just 16 minutes of football on his official debut for the club.

Sporting’s 2-0 lead unravelled quickly in the second half, however, after two goals in as many minutes from Samuel Essende and Nuno Moreira brought Vizela back level.

But just as Sporting looked braced for a disappointing opening chapter, Rúben Amorim’s men found a way to edge the affair as late as the 99th minute via Paulinho's late goal, adding some drama early doors for the Lisbon giants.

The hosts came in as favourites, carrying aspirations of a title challenge after positive displays in the build-up to the start of the Primeira Liga. Eye-catching pre-season form saw Geny Catamo nip in ahead of Ricardo Esgaio at right back for the season opener, welcomed by a healthy Alvalade crowd in the Portuguese capital.

The Lions looked to rise to the occasion in Lisbon with a ferocious start, testing Fabijan Buntic’s goal in the 4th minute from a glancing Sebastian Coates header that required a strong palm away from danger.

As Vizela struggled to get out of their own half, Sporting’s opener came from the likeliest of sources with new boy Gyökeres finding an inch to switch the ball onto his left peg and fire low on his official debut, past a beaten Buntic.

No less than two minutes later, the Swede dared to run at the Vizela backline on the break, shifting the ball onto his right foot this time before finding the bottom corner again to make it 2-0.

The visitors were able to stabilise proceedings and even cause a spot of bother of their own with rare sightings of Antonio Adán’s goal, but Gyökeres remained unstoppable at the other end, almost bagging an assist from an emerging Daniel Bragança volley over the bar in the 43rd minute.

Following the interval, the second half brought us a more ambitious Vizela outfit who’d in turn offer Sporting the chance to hurt their opponents on the counter, as the likes of Pedro Gonçalves and Francisco Trincão failed to connect with the goal.

Vizela’s best opportunity came from the feet of Diogo Nascimento in the 62nd minute, stinging Adán’s hands with a powerful volley from distance to win his side a corner.

Sporting offered the visitors a way back in going into the final 15 minutes of normal time after a hesitant Adán lost out one-on-one versus Essende, enabling the forward to finish past the covering Gonçalo Inácio.

Just two minutes later, Vizela silenced the Alvalade with a shock equaliser, bundled in by ex-Sporting boy Nuno Moreira at the back-post to balance the score at 2-2.

The leveller saw the pitch incline itself back towards Vizela’s goal, but it wasn’t until the dying seconds of the encounter until Sporting were able to make the onslaught count after Paulinho slammed home a loose ball from close range. Left with no time to respond, Sporting locked up all three points with the 11th-hour winner from Paulinho.

By Patrick Ribeiro

Sporting XI: Antonio Adán - Ousmane Diomande, Sebastian Coates, Gonçalo Inácio - Geny Catamo (Ricardo Esgaio, 55’), Daniel Bragança (Marcus Edwards, 45’), Hidemasa Morita, Matheus Reis (Afonso Moreira 65’) (Luis Neto, 100’) - Francisco Trincão (Paulinho, 65’), Pedro Gonçalves, Viktor Gyökeres

Vizela XI: Fabijan Buntic - Tomás Silva, Bruno Wilson, Anderson, Matheus Pereira (Orest Lebedenko, 68’) - Rafael Bustamente (Osama Rashid, 95’), Diogo Nascimento, Samu - Nuno Moreira (Hugo Oliveira, 85’), Kiko Bondoso (Dylan, 95’), Samuel Essende (Jardel, 85’)



1-0 - Viktor Gyökeres (14’)

2-0 - Viktor Gyökeres (16’)

2-1 - Samuel Essende (74’)

2-2 - Nuno Moreira (76’)

3-2 - Paulinho (99’)