Sporting crush 10-man Midtjylland 4-0 in Denmark to progress in Europa League
Sporting pushed the poor performance and draw against Midtjylland in Lisbon last week into a distant memory by beating the Danish side 4-0 away tonight, thanks largely to an inspired performance from attacking midfielder Pedro Gonçalves.
Captain Sebastián Coates gave the visitors an early lead after Midtjylland’s Paulinho was sent off before the break Sporting were in full control.
A brace from Pedro Gonçalves and an absurd own goal from Stefan Gartenmann ensured the Portuguese won 5-1 on aggregate.
Sporting coach Rúben Amorim, as usual, heralded the changes that saw St Juste, Ricardo Esgaio, Morita and Arthur Gomes come into the starting XI and spoke about the places of Diomande, Bellerín, Nuno Santos and Trincão in relation to the win Monday in Chaves.
Given that they were playing in front of their home fans, Midtjylland understandably showed far more initiative than in the first game, going into aggressive tackles and testing Sporting’s defense with a series of crosses into the box.
But the first chance of the game was on the other side of the field when Sporting effectively countered and worked the ball through to Esgaio, whose shot from a tight angle was saved by Lossi.
Coates opportune again
Two minutes later, the visitors took the lead. Pedro Gonçalves swung a corner and Morita flicked the ball, which fell at the feet of St Juste, who nudged it towards goal. Dalsgaard’s attempted free-kick hit the underside of the bar and Sebastián Coates was there to nod him over the line.
Coates had also scored in the first leg, but a blunder on his part was almost costly. The lanky Uruguayan misjudged a direct interception that allowed Joel Andersson to shove Astrit Selmani into the box, but a superb Ricardo Esgaio interception saved a safe goal.
In the 35th minute, a corner for Midtjylland was turned into a Rapier counterattack by Sporting, Pedro Gonçalves making his first brilliant through ball to find Edwards on target. The Englishman advanced to the edge of the box and tried to punch the keeper but missed his angle, allowing Jonas Lossi to make an easy save.
Paulinho sees red
Sporting seemed comfortable and the game finally turned in their favor just before the break when Brazilian left-back Paulinho received two yellow cards within two minutes and was sent off.
Somewhat surprisingly, the visitors rejoiced in set pieces and a corner just before half-time caused even more panic in the Midtjylland defence, with Pedro Gonçalves and Gonçalo Inácio both close to doubling Sporting’s lead.
Amorim brought on Héctor Bellerín for the yellow-crowned Esgaio at the break.
Barring ten men, Midtjylland still believed they could turn things around and the hosts were close to equalizing early in the second half. The tricky Isaksen spun and spun to create a shot opportunity, eliciting a sharp reaction stop from Adán.
Gonçalves destroys Midtjylland
The game switched to the other end where the indomitable Pedro Gonçalves received a short pass from Arthur and pulled off a fantastic archery shot which was brilliantly parried by Lossi, knocking him over the bar.
However, Gonçalves was undeniable. From the resulting corner, the ball came to Gonçalves at the corner of the penalty area. After seeing his first try taken down, Pote immediately hit the rebound and whipped a brilliant volley into the corner of the net.
In the 64th minute, Olsson slipped in for a dangerous cross but Adán was there to save.
All doubts about the eventual winner of the match were dispelled in the 77th minute when Pedro Gonçalves defeated Midtjylland goalkeeper Lossi with a shot from a similar position to his first goal, this time benefiting from a deflection from Olsson that turned the Danish goalkeeper completely on hit the wrong foot.
Three goals for good and an extra man turned the game into something of a training exercise for Sporting, but Amorim will be annoyed that key midfielder Manuel Ugarte got into a running fight with Emam Ashour, receiving a yellow card in the process, knocking him out the next Europa League game ruled out.
The shot on goal ended with a comical own goal. Under pressure from Pedro Gonçalves, Stefan Gartenmann tried to play back to his keeper but Lossi had drifted wide to take the pass and could only watch in horror as the ball trickled into the empty goal.
Sporting go into tomorrow’s draw knowing that their next opponents will certainly be less accommodating.
from Tom Kundert
[0-1] coats, 21′
[0-2] Pedro Gonçalves, 50′
[0-3] Pedro Gonçalves, 77′
[0-4] Gartenmann (own goal), 85′