Sporting CP held to 2-2 draw by FC Famalicão
A late equaliser, a sending off and a goal denied by VAR
Sporting Clube de Portugal were left frustrated by a 2-2 draw with FC Famalicão on Matchday 9 of the Liga NOS season, conceding a late goal that denied them another three points. Os Leões twice went ahead in the away fixture, thanks to goals from Pedro Gonçalves and Pedro Porro, but the opposition would equalise on both occasions. Despite the dropped points, Sporting CP remain outright leaders in the Portuguese league.
Coach Rúben Amorim made limited changes to his first choice starting XI, bringing in Vitorino Antunes to replace the injured Nuno Mendes. Adán, Neto, Coates, Feddal, Pedro Porro, João Palhinha, João Mário, Nuno Santos, Šporar and Pedro Gonçalves all began the game on the pitch, in a game that took place on a cold and rainy afternoon.
Sporting CP started well and were the better side throughout the first half although there were goals for both sides. Coates gave the first warning, in the 13th minute, heading wide off a corner.
The best early chance came when Nuno Santos was brought down inside the box, with a penalty awarded. The winger would step up to take it himself, but FC Famalicão goalkeeper Luiz Júnior guessed the right way to keep the spot kick out.
Half an hour in, João Palhinha came close with a shot from distance, which was punched clear in a reflex save by Luiz Júnior.
The effort was rewarded on 37 minutes, when a cross by Nuno Santos was flapped at by Luiz Júnior. Former FC Famalicão player ran back into the box, weaved past the defence and scored an early Goal Of The Month candidate.
Unfortunately, the lead was short lived. Following a free-kick on the left, Gustavo Assunção turned the ball in at the back post past Antonio Adán.
Just before half time, a foul on the edge of the area provided a chance to reestablish the advantage. Pedro Porro picked his spot to make it 1-2, two minutes into stoppage time at the end of the first period of play.
When the action got back underway, Luiz Júnior was tested by both Gonçalves and Palhinha, before coach Amorim decided to switch things up: He took off Šporar for Tiago Tomás to enter the fray, and the young striker started well, combining with João Mário -in a move which ended with the midfielder hitting the side netting.
Tabata also came in, on 72 minutes, replacing Nuno Santos, who also set up João Mário for an effort off target. These chances, plus an attempt by Porro, were all unsuccessful, leaving the lead still just a single goal entering into the final 10 minutes.
Things became more precarious with the sending off of Gonçalves for a second bookable offence, leaving Sporting CP down to 10 men.
In response, Matheus Nunes and Borja replaced João Mário and Antunes to try to hold out, but it was not to be. A free kick by Jhonata Robert brough FC Famalicão back on terms one minute from time.
Coates would turn the ball in for Sporting CP in stoppage time, but referee Luís Godinho consulted VAR and disallowed the goal for a foul by the centre back on the opposition goalkeeper. Rúben Amorim was sent off in the subsequent protests.
Sporting CP are still the league's outright leaders, but they felt that they deserved more than just a point on Matchday 9.