Sporting brush aside Vitoria 3-0 to go ten points clear at table top

Sporting overcame another potential tricky hurdle on their way to winning the Portuguese championship with the minimum of fuss, beating high-flying Vitória 3-0 at Alvalade to move ten points clear of Benfica at the top of the table, albeit having played a game more.

Although not at their dynamic best, a patient Sporting team opened the scoring on the half hour through Pedro Gonçalves.

Viktor Gyökeres bagged a brace with goals either side of half time following brilliant team moves to give the Lions a 15th victory in 15 Primeira Liga games played in their home stadium in 2023/24. 

A near capacity crowd of 46,101 spectators made for a festive atmosphere in the green half of Lisbon this evening as Sporting fans packed into the José Alvalade stadium in keen anticipation of seeing their side edge to within touching distance of a second Portuguese title triumph in four seasons. 

The hosts were at full strength while Vitória boss Álvaro Pacheco made a host of changes following his team’s draining 3-1 defeat against Porto in the Portuguese Cup semi-final on Wednesday night, including leaving star man Jota Silva on the bench.

Patient start

Sporting hogged possession for long periods in the opening minutes, but much of the time it was far from the Vitória goal as the combination of patient build-up play and the well-drilled visitors made chances difficult to fashion.

It was the visitors who had the first shot on goal in 17th minute, the speedy Kaio César trying his luck from 20 yards out but Israel saved easily.

Soon afterwards Sporting almost took the lead, Bragança’s whipped long cross from the left finding Geny Catamo, who controlled the ball, cut inside the box towards goal and struck a goal-bound shot that beat goalkeeper Bruno Varela but was hacked off the line by Borevkovic.

On the half hour Sporting broke the deadlock. Catamo crossed into the box, Daniel Bragança slipped but the ball deflected into the path of Pedro Gonçalves who immediately dispatched a cross-shot low into the net.

Gyökeres at the double

On the stroke of half time Sporting doubled their lead with a dazzling team goal. Hjulmand played a short pass to the edge of the box to Bragança who touched it first-time to Pote, who in turn immediately threaded a sublime pass into the path of Viktor Gyökeres, the Swede smashing a powerful low finish past Varela.

It was the Swede’s first goal after a barren run of five matches without finding the net, but the big striker was hungry for more and he did not have to wait long to score his second and Sporting’s third.

In the 49th minute another lovely move saw Pote dink a lobbed pass to Trincão, who took the ball down skilfully and laid it on a plate for Gyökeres to tap in from close range, for his 24th Primeira Liga goal in a memorable debut campaign.

Cue more jubilation, singing and dancing in the stands as Sporting’s supporters put on a dress rehearsal for what could be the title-confirming next home match in a fortnight. 

Sporting continued to dominate, the irrepressible Gyökeres going on one memorable run when he jinked and bludgeoned his way towards goal leaving a series Vitória players in his wake, but could not direct his shot on target.

Substitute Marcus Edwards had the ball in the net in the 80th minute, after more superb work by Gyökeres, but it was chalked off for offside in the build-up.

Once again Sporting’s domination of the ball completely suffocated any opportunity their opponents would have hoped to have of creating chances, a wayward effort by late substitute Jota the only moment of relative danger for Israel.

The final whistle went and the fans roared their appreciation, and soon afterwards fireworks were heard in the surroundings of the stadium. The title celebrations will surely begin in earnest in a fortnight or so.

Amorim ensures relentless Sporting kill off Benfica’s hopes

Starting around one month ago Sporting faced a sequence of matches that would test their mettle as title candidates: Arouca, Estrela da Amadora, Gil Vicente and Famalicão away, and Boavista, Benfica and Vitória at home. Seven games, all potential banana skins, were transformed into seven victories, which is testament to the outstanding job Rúben Amorim has done in commanding his troops at the business end of what is threatening to be one of Sporting’s greatest ever seasons in terms of number of wins and points accumulated.

The young coach has been at pains to transmit to the players (and the fans) that nothing has been won yet, explaining the importance of continuing to pick up three points every game to squeeze the hope out of title rivals Benfica.

It is now surely inevitable that Amorim will be celebrating a second title in just four full seasons at Sporting – the same number the club achieved in the 38 years prior to the coach’s arrival at Alvalade.

by Tom Kundert at the Estádio José Alvalade

Sporting: Franco Israel, Geny Catamo (Iván Fresneda, 86’), Jeremiah St. Juste (Eduardo Quaresma, 82’), Sebastián Coates, Gonçalo Inácio, Nuno Santos, Morten Hjulmand, Daniel Bragança (Hidemasa Morita, 78’), Francisco Trincão (Marcus Edwards, 78’), Viktor Gyökeres, Pedro Gonçalves (Paulinho, 78’)

Vitória: Bruno Varela, Tomás Ribeiro (Mikel Villanueva, 75’), Borevkovic, Manu Silva, Miguel Maga, André André (Nuno Santos, 58’), Tomás Handel, Tiago Silva, Afonso Freitas (Alberto Baio, 75’), Adrian Butzke (Jota Silva, 58’), Kaio César (Nélson Oliveira, 84’)


[1-0] Pedro Gonçalves, 30’

[2-0] Viktor Gyökeres, 45 +3’’

[3-0] Viktor Gyökeres, 49’