Sporting leave themselves on the brink of title joy after dominant home display

Sporting 3-0 Portimonense

Sporting are just a result away from claiming the Primeira Liga title with two league fixtures to go after defeating Portimonense 3-0 at Alvalade, this Saturday evening.

The Lions rose to the occasion with a dominant first half display, but only had one Paulinho goal to show for their promise in the opening 45 minutes.

Francisco Trincão’s strike in the 70th minute alleviated matters with a deserved second goal. The finishing touch to a key victory was reserved for Viktor Gyökeres, leaving Sporting needing just a draw against Estoril, or Benfica’s failure to defeat Famalicão on Sunday night, to clinch the league title.

Sporting’s reception of Portimonense saw Rúben Amorim replenish the flanks with returns to the XI for Ricardo Esgaio and Nuno Santos, meanwhile Paulinho and Gyökeres led the line.

It was predictably via the latter that Sporting came close to breaking the deadlock early within the first five minutes, as Kosuke Nakamura produced a point-blank save to deny Gyökeres tapping in from an accurate Francisco Trincão cross.

The Lions aimed to repeat the recipe on the opposite flank, doing so with great success as a classy touch from Nuno Santos set him up perfectly for a daisy-cutter, assisting Paulinho for the first time finish in the 14th minute.

A second goal neared itself for Sporting as Sebastian Coates came close to doubling the lead with a powerful header in the 16th minute, just four minutes before Nakamura starred again between the posts to keep out a clinical volley from Pedro Gonçalves inside the box. 

The need for a second goal was nurtured by wave after wave of Sporting attacks, going mightily close with a Paulinho header against the near post before a couple more saves on the brink of half-time from Nakamura kept Portimonense in the affair.

Despite renewed dominance, it was a quieter Sporting that reared its head in the second half courtesy of the reorganisation undertaken by the suffering visitors, aiming to keep the game as tight as possible.

Paulinho still found the time to reinstate his growing rivalry with Nakamura, however, drawing a save out of the Japanese goalkeeper with a strike at goal in the 60th minute.

But alas, as the clock struck the 70th minute, so did Trincão with goal number two after great play down Sporting’s left between Nuno Santos and Paulinho set the ex-Barcelona man up for a sweeping effort coming into the box.

Gyökeres came close to claiming Sporting’s third goal moments later with a fierce shot heading for goal, stopped only by a strong Nakamura hand on the ball.

With two minutes to spare, however, Gyökeres’ goal arrived after Daniel Bragança left the ball at the Swede’s disposal to bundle into an empty net, clinching a 3-0 victory that leaves the Lisbon giants needing just a point, or a non-victory from Benfica, to be crowned champions.

By Patrick Ribeiro

Sporting XI: Franco Israel - Gonçalo Inácio, Sebastián Coates, Ousmane Diomandé (Eduardo Quaresma, 80’) - Nuno Santos (Matheus Reis, 89’), Pedro Gonçalves (Daniel Bragança, 67’), Morten Hjulmand (Hidemasa Morita, 80’), Ricardo Esgaio (Geny Catamo, 68’) - Francisco Trincão, Paulinho, Viktor Gyökeres

Portimonense XI: Kosuke Nakamura - Igor Formiga (Paulo Estrela, 73’), Pedrão, Alemão, Moustapha Seck - Lucas Ventura, Taichi Fukui (Gonçalo Costa, 59’), Carlinhos (Dener, 88’) - Luan Campos (Paulo Estrela, 73’) Hildeberto Pereira (Midana Cassamá, 59’), Hélio Varela 


[1-0] Paulinho, 13’ 

[2-0] Francisco Trincão, 70’ 

[3-0] Viktor Gyökeres, 90 + 2