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Photo by José Lorvão

Advantage Sporting CP in Europa League playoff

By Sporting CP
16 Feb, 2024

The team move closer to the Round of 16 with a 1-3 first leg win over BSC Young Boys

Sporting Clube de Portugal beat Swiss side BSC Young Boys 1-3 in the first leg of the play-off for the Round of 16 of the UEFA Europa League. The result gives a precious advantage for the second leg, which will be played in one week's time at the Estádio José Alvalade.

At the Wankdorf Stadium in Bern, the first ever meeting between these two teams saw an own goal by Amenda, plus strikes from Viktor Gyökeres and Gonçalo Inácio.

Paulinho missed the game through injury, whilst Sebastián Coates stayed in Lisbon as a precaution due to the risk involved with synthetic playing surface. Coach Rúben Amorim made four changes to the first XI by bringing in Matheus Reis, Ricardo Esgaio, Daniel Bragança and Edwards. Rafael Nel, an 18-year-old striker from the B team made his maiden appearance in the squad.

Sporting CP started out with constant attacks in the final third, and came very close to scoring in the opening moments. Gyökeres went forward on the run, played a one-two with Pedro Gonçalves and saw his shot bounce off the goalkeeper's face. In response, from a corner, BSC Young Boys also gave a scare to Antonio Adán.

The opening half hour was almost exclusively a Sporting CP show, as the always had more of the ball and were sharper in attack. Gyökeres created two more excellent opportunities without success, as in the first he shot into the side netting and then the opposition goalkeeper safely stopped his effort.

However, with 31 minutes gone, they finally got the much sought after goal. In a move from the right, Edwards crossed into the area and defender Amenda appeared at the near post, deflecting the ball into his own net and putting Sporting CP 0-1 up.

From there the champions and current leaders of the Swiss league attempted to react, but it would only last for a short time: In the 39th minute, Edwards was again decisive when he was brought down in the area, which resulted in a penalty. From the 11-metre mark Gyökeres increased the lead to 0-2 and scored his 28th goal of the season.

Despite this, practically from the next move, BSC Young Boys closed the gap again, as Filip Ugrinic found the net just before halftime.

After the break, there was an almost immediate goal, this time for Sporting CP. In the 48th minute, Gonçalves sent a free kick into the area with precision, and Gonçalo Inácio, with the central defender rising high and heading in to make it 1-3.

They never took their foot off the accelerator, continued to insist on the attack and came very close to scoring the fourth goal shortly after. Following another great run by Gyökeres on the left, the Swedish forward entered the penalty area and set up Gonçalves who, unluckily, struck against the post.

The last 15 minutes were played at a slower pace, with BSC Young Boys having more of the ball for the first time, but failed to give Adán much cause for concern -despite having a goal disallowed.

Amorim gave debuts in the competition for winter signing Koba Koindredi and also youngster Nel.

Before the end, Mohamad Ali Camara was sent off for the home team and the intensity faded for both sides. A 1-3 lead gives a healthy advantage to Sporting CP, who will play next Thursday in the second leg with a place in the next round up for grabs. Before that, they play in Liga Portugal this coming Monday, against Moreirense FC on the road.