Five-star performance sinks SC Braga
Sporting CP impress with a 5-0 win at home
Sporting Clube de Portugal put in a stellar showing to beat SC Braga 5-0 at home, on Matchday 18 of the Liga Portugal season.
The team experienced three changes in the starting lineup for the midweek match, with Ricardo Esgaio chosen to replace Pedro Porro after the Spaniard's move to Tottenham. Jeremiah St. Juste and Youssef Chermiti came in for Matheus Reis and Paulinho, respectively, on a cold night at the Estádio José Alvalade.
After a Banza shot saved by goalkeeper Antonio Adán, Sporting CP enjoyed their first chance through Manuel Ugarte, who shot wide off a deflection from a defender. Soon after, Marcus Edwards shot into the side netting, again with a touch from an opposition player.
From the resulting corner kick, Nuno Santos played the ball into the area, Jeremiah St. Juste headed on and the ball fell to Hidemasa Morita, who, on the turn, shot into the back of the net. It was the fourth goal for the Japanese player since joining the club, and put the team into an early lead.
Sporting CP continued well, threatening with attacks from Marcus Edwards and Youssef Chermiti -the latter reaching an excellent cross by Ricardo Esgaio with a header that Matheus saved.
Shortly after, it was Pedro Gonçalves who shot wide with another deflection. On the following corner, he created even more danger, and came close to scoring with a header.
Despite the high press from SC Braga, Sporting CP were calm in their buildup and dominated through to the end of the first half. The game went into the interval with Os Leoes 1-0 to the good.
The second half could scarcely have started better: In the first minute, Sporting CP made it 2-0. After a shot by Gonçalves that Matheus saved, Chermiti backheeled to Hidemasa Morita for the Japanese to complete his brace.
Life got even more difficult for SC Braga in the 49th minute, when Niakaté was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Sporting CP took advantage of the momentum to go in search of the third goal. Hidemasa Morita had two shots go just wide before, half an hour from time, Marcus Edwards found the net.
The Englishman advanced down the right and danced through the opposition defence, capping off a brilliant run with a confident finish past the goalkeeper. He now has ten goals to his name in 2022/23.
Coach Rúben Amorim started to change things, and Morita and Ugarte were both withdrawn to be replaced by Mateo Tanlongo and Francisco Trincao. Another great opportunity followed, but Nuno Santos' shot missed the target by a question of centimetres..
Arthur Gomes, Matheu Reis and Fatawu came on, 15 minutes from time, for Santos, Sebastián Coates and Edwards.
Adán prevented a consolation for SC Braga with an excellent save, and in the 86th minute, Sporting CP made it 4-0. Off a perfect short corner, Matheus Reis appeared outside the area to shoot into the top corner and bag his first goal of the season.
In stoppage time, Fatawu was brought down in the area, Gonçalves converting with the final kick of the game to complete a 5-0 triumph.
Sporting CP will next play on Monday, visiting Rio Ave FC.
Sporting CP: Antonio Adán [GK], Jeremiah St. Juste, Sebastián Coates [C] (Matheus Reis, 76'), Gonçalo Inácio, Ricardo Esgaio, Manuel Ugarte (Francisco Trincão, 63'), Hidemasa Morita (Mateo Tanlongo, 63'), Nuno Santos (Arthur Gomes, 76') , Marcus Edwards (Fatawu, 76'), Pedro Gonçalves and Youssef Chermiti.