Gyökeres-inspired Sporting beat Moreirense 3-0 to go joint top

Sporting went joint top of the Primeira Liga after beating Moreirense at Alvalade tonight thanks to three second-half goals.

The newly promoted team made things tough for Sporting in the first half, following up their good showings against Porto and Braga, although the visitors also rode their luck with the home team twice hitting the woodwork.

But Sporting eventually wore them down, in no small measure thanks to the infectious energy of Swedish striker Viktor Gyökeres. Morten Hjulmand opened the scoring, Gyökeres netted the second and Ousmane Diomande added a late third. 

Paulinho benched

Despite being Sporting’s top scorer, striker Paulinho had to be content with a seat on the bench, with Marcus Edwards taking his place. Moreirense coach Rui Borges also made one change to his previous lineup, Pedro Amador coming in for Madson.

Last season’s Liga II champions Moreirense have impressed since returning to the top flight, their lowly position more to do with their tough schedule – having to face Porto, Famalicão and Braga before visiting Sporting – than the quality of their play, and they started in positive fashion in Lisbon.

The away team created the first chance of the match, André Luís hitting the outside of the post in the 6th minute and continued to enjoy long spells of possession deep in Sporting’s half during the opening exchanges.

Post twice thwarts Sporting

On 14 minutes Sporting should have taken the lead. Morita was completely unmarked at the far post from a free kick near the goal line, but the Japanese midfielder directed his shot against the post and goalkeeper Kewin Silva saved his follow-up effort.

On the half hour the home side were again denied by the woodwork. Gyökeres set up a chance for Hjulmand, the Danish midfielder smashing a thunderous shot against the post.

Soon afterwards Sporting had the ball in the net. Nuno Santos released Morita with a clever pass behind the Moreirense defence, whose cross-shot was turned in by Ricardo Esgaio, but the wing-back had drifted offside and VAR ruled out the goal.

The Lions were now piling on the pressure, and only two fantastic saves in quick succession from Silva stopped first Santos then Morita from scoring. Half time, 0-0. 

Super-charged Gyökeres

The chances kept coming in the second half, Viktor Gyökeres heading wide from a promising position.

Moreirense’s attacking forays were now a rare occurrence, but in the 50th minute Sporting goalkeeper Adán raced out of his goal, collided with André Luís and the ball fell to Gonçalo Franco 40 yards out on the touchline. The midfielder shot towards the empty goal, his effort bouncing just wide.

Five minutes later and Sporting at last got the breakthrough. Gyökeres played a somewhat fortuitous assist to Hjulmand on the edge of the box, who hit a firm low shot past Silva for his first goal for the club.

The lead was doubled soon afterwards as Nuno Santos raced onto an Inácio pass and crossed perfectly for Gyökeres to head home from close range.

The Swedish striker was showing no sign of slowing down, speeding past several markers and shooting wide then embarking on another powerful run that ended with a firm shot from the edge of the area but straight at Moreirense’s overworked goalkeeper Silva who saved.

Paulinho comes close

Substitute Paulinho then almost got in on the act, his header from an excellent Matheus Reis cross skimming the top of the bar.

Any faint hopes Moreirense may have harboured of getting back into the game were ended in the 88th minute when Maracás fouled Gyökeres and was shown a second yellow card and subsequent red.

The icing on the cake for the home fans arrived in stoppage time as centre-back Diomande capped another faultless display that belies his age of just 19 with a deserved goal, nodding in a well-delivered Geny Catamo corner.

Sporting go joint top of the table alongside Porto and now turn their attention to a Europa League clash against Sturm Graz in Austria on Thursday.

By Tom Kundert at Alvalade