Teams: Portugal, SL Benfica, Manchester United
Liedson leads Sporting revival
Wednesday, 16 February 2005
By Rui Matos Pereira at the José de Alvalade
Sporting Clube de Portugal recovered from conceding an early goal to take a 2-1 advantage into the second leg of their UEFA Cup Round of 32 tie with Feyenoord.
After going behind to a goal from Bart Goor on eleven minutes, Sporting fought back thanks to efforts from midfield player Custódio and Liedson to gain the upper hand at the José de Alvalade stadium - and they held on despite Custódio's second-half dismissal.
Sporting started well, with on-loan midfield player Hugo Viana hitting a first-time, right-foot shot against Patrick Lodewijks’ crossbar, but with eleven minutes on the clock it was Feyenoord who took the lead. Right-back Gianni Zuiverloon hit a low shot, which was cleared into the path of Goor, who curled a shot from eleven metres past Portuguese international goalkeeper Ricardo.
Sporting, who struggled to settle after their opponent’s early goal, gradually worked their way back into the game with quick passing moves between their most creative and technically gifted players and it was with one of those moves that José Peseiro’s side levelled the match. With 22 minutes played, Viana skipped past Goor before crossing for Custódio, who fired in unmarked from nine metres.
Sporting pressed forward looking for another goal and, on 32 minutes, Custódio shot from just outside the box forcing Lodewijks to palm around the post. The pressure brought a second goal four minutes later, though, as Ricardo Sá Pinto supplied a pinpoint cross to an unmarked Liedson, who rose higher than Zuiverloon to head past Lodewijks.
During the break Feyenoord coach Ruud Gullit introduced Salomon Kalou to try to improve his side’s attacking options. However, Feyenoord’s best effort on goal in the second half came in the 59th minute, courtesy of Goor, but the Belgian’s shot from distance was excellently saved by Ricardo.
Just five minutes earlier, Sporting had forced Lodewijks into two consecutive saves from a 30-metre Fabio Rochemback free-kick and a Sá Pinto effort which the Feyenoord keeper magnificently saved stretching to his left.
With 26 minutes to go Sporting were reduced to ten men after Custódio was sent off for a second bookable offence - pulling Dirk Kuijt when the Dutch striker was through on goal. But even with that disadvantage, it was Sporting who threatened most, Viana sending a 35-metre free-kick narrowly wide.
Feyenoord increased the pressure on the Sporting defence in the dying moments and, after a Kuijt shot had been deflected for a corner by João Moutinho, Kalou beat the offside trap only to head into Ricardo’s hands.
With just five minutes to play, Sporting suffered another set-back when coach Peseiro was banished from the technical area after an altercation with the assistant referee. But on the pitch his side held on thanks to Ricardo, who kept out Kuijt's late, close-range header with his knees.