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UEFA Europa League

  • 8 March 2012
  • • 18:00
  • • Estádio José Alvalade, Lisboa
  • Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo
  • • Attendance: 34371

Sporting 1-0 Manchester City: Xandao backheel gives hosts first-leg advantage as Kompany suffers injury blow

Sporting 1-0 Manchester City: Xandao backheel gives hosts first-leg advantage as Kompany suffers injury blow

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Roberto Mancini’s side lost their captain early on and will have to overcome a one-goal deficit in the return leg at Eastlands

A second-half goal from Brazilian defender Xandao helped Sporting gain the edge over Manchester City in the last 16 of the Europa League.

The Sporting centre-half produced a cool back-heeled finish to give the Portuguese outfit the advantage before they head to Manchester next week.

City lost inspirational skipper Vincent Kompany to injury early on and they will now reflect on a night of few positives should the blow prove serious.

There was plenty of Premier League interest amongst the Sporting line-up as former Liverpool full-back Emiliano Insua started alongside Dutch-born Manchester United target Ricky van Wolfswinkel.

Roberto Mancini decided to leave Italian bad boy Mario Balotelli on the bench, replacing him with Edin Dzeko, while Gael Clichy had to fill in at right-back due to injures to Pablo Zabaleta and Micah Richards as Nigel de Jong was brought in for the suspended Yaya Toure.

The first chance of the game came just a couple of minutes in as Joe Hart raced out of his box to head the ball clear only to see it fall to the feet of Stijn Schaars. The quick-thinking midfielder attempted a lob from distance but, fortunately for the visitors, it went well wide of Hart’s goal.

Mancini’s side were then dealt a blow with less than ten minutes on the clock as their captain Kompany was forced from the field with a leg injury, which meant that the Italian was forced to bring in Joleon Lescott to replace the Belgian.

It nearly went from bad to worse for Manchester City moments later as Joao Pereira raced into the box from right-back and blasted the ball towards Hart’s goal, but the shot-stopper was more than up to the challenge as he beat the ball away.

Both sides continued to push forward, with the English outfit building from the back in order to create chances, while Sporting looked to break forward into spaces left by City, but neither side could find an opening.

Even though they were missing their captain, City looked solid for the remainder of the first half and limited their hosts to shots from long range which Hart had no trouble in watching go by either of his posts.

The only chance for the visitors came as Sergio Aguero got his head to a free-kick from Dzeko, but Sporting goalkeeper Rui Patricio came out to collect easily, meaning that the two sides went into the break level.

Despite the visitors having the best of the start of the second half, it was Sporting who took the lead early. Matias Fernandez curled a free-kick from the edge of the area which Hart did well to get down to, but, unfortunately for the stopper, Xandao was first to the second ball and he cleverly back-heeled home.

Mancini’s side nearly hit back straight away as Aguero got the ball on the left hand side of the area, but the Argentine failed to smash beyond Patricio, as the ball was pushed away for a corner.

Sporting then had an opportunity to extend their lead after a superb passing move saw the ball land at the feet of Pereira on the right wing, but his floated cross was headed out by Lescott before the hosts could get a shot away.

Just after the hour mark Sporting were handed a golden chance to go two ahead as Schaars raced, unmarked, down the right hand side of the penalty box to cut the ball back for the unmarked van Wolfswinkel. To the frustration of the Portuguese side's fans however, the forward's tame shot was saved by Hart and cleared from danger.

The visitors looked to change things around late on as Mancini replaced the ineffective Dzeko with Balotelli in search of a vital away goal.

The substitution nearly paid off as Balotelli raced down the left and sent the ball into the path of the onrushing David Silva, but the Spaniard could only direct the ball onto the post and out for a goal-kick to the hosts.

Ricardo Sa Pinto’s side continued to defend resolutely for the reminder of the game, but were fortunate not to concede late on as Balotelli rose above the Sporting defence to meet a Silva corner and cannon a header off the bar to leave the tie finely poised.

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