Rúben Amorim has had more time to work and more money on his account since Thursday – Sporting extended his contract. As of Friday, Sporting have more lead in the championship lead and more comfort to hold onto – renewing the difference at the top of the I League.
The duel against Santa Clara brought “leonina” a 2-1 victory in Alvalade in a game of the 22nd round of the I League. With this result, Sporting have a 12 point lead for Sp. Braga, 13 points for FC Porto and 16 points for Benfica – the three pursuers are still playing on this trip.
The São Miguel team, on the other hand, is losing more ground in the battle for European qualifying places, but still retains a comfortable seventh place.
This was generally a somewhat boring and sparse game with scoring chances, in which Sporting repeated the predicates already shown in the past: effectiveness until the end and “star” and perseverance at the end of the game.
It was a cold and happy sport in which João Palhinha and Pedro Gonçalves, each in their “portfolio”, were decisive again. And also Coates, the hero of the night, who repeated what he had already done against Gil Vicente and obtained the “discounts”.
Matheus instead of Porro
In the first half there was little intensity, little speed, few shots and, above all, little danger near the goal posts. Sporting appeared in the usual costumes and Rúben Amorim showed another way of thinking, for example from the coaches of Benfica and FC Porto: change the “stones”, keep the system.
This time it was due to injury Pedro Porro and optionally Nuno Santos, Matheus Nunes (the Brazilian of the “thousand jobs” who played the wing) and Bruno Tabata (who “forced” Pedro Gonçalves to play on the left) made way for midfield) of the attack) .
The Azores bravely went to Alvalade. Not because of the system, a “normal” 4x2x3x1, but because of the way it always mobilized three players who were under pressure to build three for Sporting.
The “Leonine” centers had some difficulties in setting up – even Inácio, the most skilled in the field – and the lack of Pedro Porro was felt as the Spanish are often a solution in the development of the game.
With Matheus Nunes being used less for the game and Sporting hostage to the movements of Pedro Gonaçlves and Nuno Santos in frontal support between the lines, the team appeared to be a bit “dedicated” to solutions – Tiago Tomás also gave few solutions .
In this state, where Santa Clara was even more dangerous (but with no chances), Sporting showed the main strengths they had at 22 minutes: a midfielder who is able to recover balls in advanced zones and subject them to the bid ( Palhinha), another strong man who finds vertical solutions (João Mário), a competent wingman who defines the final pass (Tabata), and a finisher of excellence (Pedro Gonçalves).
This recipe was repeated and was no exception against Santa Clara. Pedro Gonçalves left the left and took a surprising step to the right. Isolated from Tabata, he showed again why he is the best finisher at the major European championships – not in terms of absolute goals, but in terms of using the chances he has.
Little had happened in front of the gate and even less afterwards. Sporting had a “perfect job” – a shot, a goal and a lead – and was in control of the game while Santa Clara could no longer. The break was good news for everyone who watched the game.
Keeping it sporty
In the second part, Santa Clara significantly increased the pressure lines and even got Sporting to touch 30 meters of land with several consecutive corners and free kicks – without any particular danger thanks to the cuts by Inácio, Palhinha and Coates.
However, it is already known that to do this, it is necessary to press hard. Otherwise the team will be stretched and the sectors will be separated. In these moments, Sporting used the space for good quick starts at 59 ‘and 63’, but without any shots.
About 20 minutes more, thought Rúben Amorim when he realized that the game was not suitable for big offensive adventures, two aspects: holding the result, controlling the game with the ball and the possibility of “killing the game with one” “Not to reject cooler players up front. In this sense, Daniel Bragança stepped in, given little for losing the ball, and Nuno Santos very given, to define well in the last third.
The game, which was already warm by then, has cooled down completely. Only at 84 ‘was there another danger and … another goal. As with Sportings Tor, Santa Clara celebrated without doing much. There was a wide cross, Feddal barely cleared the ball and Rui Costa in the area made the draw.
But Sporting knows what it’s like to survive. He did it several times and he did it again tonight. With another goal in the “discounts”, the “lions” won. Coates was the hero after a cross from João Mário.