Leão had to apply to beat Varzim SC (2-1)
Back after the break for international engagements, Sporting Clube de Portugal’s main football team guaranteed, this Thursday, the passage to the round of 16 of the Portuguese Cup by winning 2-1 at home to Varzim SC in fourth round of the race.
It was until the end, the Lions had to apply themselves to beat the set of the II Liga, but two goals from Pedro Gonçalves resolved the match, confirming a ninth consecutive victory at this stage of the season – a series without equal under the command of Rúben Amorim.
In the clash with the Poveiro emblem, coach Leonino changed six pieces compared to the eleven presented in Paços de Ferreira: João Virgínia, Gonçalo Esteves, Zouhair Feddal, Daniel Bragança – captain -, Bruno Tabata and Jovane Cabral started the match, yielding Antonio Adán, Gonçalo Inácio, Sebastián Coates – all out of the game sheet -, João Palhinha, Pablo Sarabia and Pedro Gonçalves – these on the bench. Note also the absence of Rúben Vinagre, Manuel Ugarte and Tiago Tomás (tonsillitis) and the inclusion of André Paulo and José Marsá in the game sheet.
Under warning after Varzim SC had already eliminated the first-degree CS Marítimo in this edition of the queen event, Alvalade’s team assumed possession of the ball and control of the game from the start. With the formation of Póvoa de Varzim joining the lines in their midfield, the Lions sought depth through the side aisles and from crossings arrived at the first warnings, albeit timid.
Sporting CP was tightening the encirclement to the opposing area, but it was the poveiros who created a better opportunity in a quick transition, which, however, was seriously effectively resolved by the Leonina defense. Henceforth, the two guardians prepared themselves as the main protagonists. On minute 25, Tabata fired a shot from a distance for a tight defense by Ismael Lekbab, who shortly after ‘flew’ to also avoid a great goal against Bragança. On the other side, Virgínia also emerged between the posts, blocking an attempt by Nuno Valente.
Until half-time, the void would not change, but there was no lack of clear goals, especially against the Lions, in a frantic final straight of the first-half. First, Jovane hit the crossbar with a direct free-kick, with Matheus Reis still missing the change and then, in a one on one, the stain of an inspired Lekb got the better of Matheus Nunes. Before André Narciso’s whistle, Virgínia also caught a dangerous shot from Zé Ferreira.
Right at the start of the second half, after Tabata couldn’t finish in the best way inside the area, Matheus Reis appeared in Lekbab’s face and shot at the figure. Then, in the 57th minute, Jovane was injured, Pedro Gonçalves taking his place, with the 28 shirt being responsible for untying the knot in the marker about ten minutes later. In the right place at the right time, Pedro Gonçalves chased a loose ball in the small area and made it 1-0 when Pedro Porro and Pablo Sarabia – decisive in the goal – just replaced Esteves and Tabata.
However, at the passing of the 77th minute, Varzim SC – which had not yet appeared in attack in this second half – benefited from a penalty kick and Heliardo restored equality. Looking for the advantage again, the Lions pushed the visiting team into their last third and, with less than five minutes to go, Porro was brought down in the area. Called a converter, Pedro Gonçalves didn’t shake, made it 2-1 and sealed the green and white triumph.
Before the final whistle, Luís Neto, a native of Póvoa de Varzim, came on to great applause for Nuno Santos, facing the emblem that formed him and for which he made his debut as a professional.
The Lions of Rúben Amorim will play again at the Estádio José Alvalade, next Wednesday, the 24th of November (20:00), in the important reception against Borussia Dortmund, referring to the fifth round of group C of the UEFA Champions League.
Sporting CP: John Virginia [GR], Gonçalo Esteves (Pedro Porro 67′), Ricardo Esgaio, Zouhair Feddal, Matheus Reis, Nuno Santos (Luís Neto 89′), Daniel Bragança [C], Matheus Nunes, Bruno Tabata (Pablo Sarabia 67′), Jovane Cabral (Pedro Gonçalves 57′) and Paulinho.