Mission accomplished in Denmark
24 Feb, 2023
Sporting CP take a 0-4 win against FC Midtjylland to progress in Europe
Sporting Clube de Portugal made it through to the Round of 16 of the UEFA Europa League with a magnificent 0-4 away win over FC Midtjylland.
After the 1-1 draw in Alvalade in the first leg, Rúben Amorim's side were obliged to win in Denmark amidst cold temperatures reaching 0ºC at the Arena Herning, and produced a great performance helped by the home team going down to ten men before halftime.
Amorim made four changes to the starting lineup that won in Chaves on Monday: Jeremiah St. Juste, Ricardo Esgaio, Arthur Gomes and Hidemasa Morita came in to replace Ousmane Diomande - playing against his former club -, Héctor Bellerín, Nuno Santos and Francisco Trincao.
FC Midtjylland were playing at home for the first time since November 7th of last year, and were buoyed by a 0-4 win over Viborg FF in the resumption of the Danish league season.
It would be the Danes who had the first approaches on goal, with Inácio having to intervene early inside the area and Adán having to save a cross that swerved dangerously towards goal.
However, the first time that Sporting CP found space to play, they quickly went on the attack and gave a clear warning, with Esgaio shooting and forcing a save from goalkeeper Jonas Lössl.
The opening goal came from a corner and a defensive mistake by FC Midtjylland. St. Juste took the first shot, which ended up hitting the crossbar, and captain Sebastián Coates scored with a header off the rebound, to celebrations from the approximately 800 Sportinguistas present at the Herning Arena.
Shortly afterwards, Sporting CP would threaten again with another corner kick. However, FC Midtjylland's response required a quick reaction from Esgaio and Inácio to prevent two clear chances.
Marcus Edwards was played through off a long ball across the opposing midfield, but would not be able to finish off with a chip, caught by Lössl.
The game took a turn close to the 40 minute mark, when fullback Paulinho picked up two yellow cards in the space of two minutes and left his team a man down.
Sporting CP fended off some early attempts in the second half, and went on the offensive soon after. A parry away prevented Pedro Gonçalves from scoring, but on the resulting corner he found a loose ball and struck in from the edge of the area to make it 0-2.
Amorim decided to replace Hidemasa Morita with youngster Mateus Fernandes, who made his debut in the UEFA Europa League.
Just past the hour, Adán needed to intervene off a deflection. Then Trincão and Nuno Santos, followed by Mateo Tanlongo, were brought in to freshen things up.
In the last quarter of an hour, a decisive blow was landed when Gonçalves shot again, a touch off the defence taking the ball into the net for his 16th goal of the season.
The finishing touch came in the 85th minute, when Gartenmann played back to his goalkeeper without looking, scoring an own goal.
After the progress in the UEFA Europa League, Os Leões return to Liga Portugal action on Monday at home to GD Estoril Praia.
Sporting CP: Antonio Adán [GK], Ricardo Esgaio (Héctor Bellerín 46'), Jeremiah St. Juste, Sebastián Coates [C], Gonçalo Inácio, Arthur Gomes (Nuno Santos 65'), Manuel Ugarte (Mateo Tanlongo 78'), Hidemasa Morita (Mateus Fernandes 53'), Marcus Edwards (Francisco Trincão 65'), Pedro Gonçalves and Paulinho.