Sporting CP strike late to beat CD Santa Clara
An injury time winner from Coates gives the league leaders a 2-1 triumph
Sporting Clube de Portugal bested CD Santa Clara 2-1 in a Friday night fixture at the Estádio José Alvalade, as Sebastian Coates struck a late winner in the Liga NOS Matchday 22 contest.
The league leaders were up against the side in seventh place, and made two changes to the starting lineup from the game against FC Porto. Pedro Porro was back available, and came straight into the first XI, and Nuno Santos was rotated in. The pair replaced Matheus Nunes and Bruno Tabata, respectively.
CD Santa Clara began intensely, with the intention of springing an early surprise. They provided some dangerous moves and several corners, but the play eventually settled down and Sporting CP established dominance.
On 22 minutes, Pedro Gonçalves opened the scoring off a tremendous move. João Palhinha recovered the ball, playing it to João Mário -who in turn laid it off to Bruno Tabata. The Brazilian fooled the entire CD Santa Clara defence, picking out Gonçalves. The league's top marksman struck a shot inside the far post to beat goalkeeper Marco Pereira, scoring his 15th goal of the season.
From there, Sporting CP maintained control through to the end of the first half, holding a 1-0 lead.
The momentum remained the same in the second half, albeit with few chances on goal after another early rally from CD Santa Clara. Coach Rúben Amorim took the opportunity to reshuffle the team, replacing Nuno Mendes with Matheus Reis in the 57th minute. He would later bring in Tiago Tomás and Bruno Tabata for Daniel Bragança and Nuno Santos, respectively.
The substitutions were effective and, just after coming on, Santos caused danger with a cross-shot from the left that forced Marco Pereira to parry out for a corner kick.
The response from CD Santa Clara came shortly afterwards, when Rui Costa, from distance, shot over the crossbar. It would be he who ended up scoring CD Santa Clara's goal, in the 84th minute, taking advantage of a mistake from Zouhair Feddal and equalising.
Jovane Cabral, on as a sub, led the Sporting CP charge to regain their lead: Matheus Reis crossed from the left, it was headed by Sebastián Coates and Cabral, in a good position, nearly scored.
Another Coates effort, from a corner on 89 minutes, found its way wide of the post, as time began to run out. The team's unshakeable belief has been demonstrated several times this season, and it came through for them again: In the third minute of stoppage time, Nuno Santos crossed for João Mário. The midfielder, inside the area, placed the ball towards Coates, and the captain headed into the net for the winning goal. The entire squad celebrated the late strike, which provided another massive three points for the Liga NOS leaders.
Sporting CP: Antonio Adán [GR], Gonçalo Inácio, Sebastián Coates [GR], Zouhair Feddal (Jovane Cabral, 86 '), Matheus Nunes, João Palhinha, João Mário, Nuno Mendes (Matheus Reis, 57'), Bruno Tabata ( Nuno Santos, 70'), Pedro Gonçalves and Tiago Tomás (Daniel Bragança, 70'). Unused substitutes: Luís Maximiano [GR], Luís Neto, João Pereira, Vitorino Antunes and Eduardo Quaresma.