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Photo by José Lorvão

Late Gyökeres goals earn draw in O Clássico

By Sporting CP
29 Apr, 2024

​Strikes in the closing moments give Sporting CP a 2-2 draw with FC Porto

Two late goals from Viktor Gyökeres earned Sporting Clube de Portugal a 2-2 draw against FC Porto on Liga Portugal Matchday 31, in a game held away from home at the Estádio do Dragão. The stalemate extends the team's unbeaten run in the league to 18 games, although their lead over SL Benfica in the table is now reduced to 5 points with three matches remaining.

The gap between Sporting CP and FC Porto at the start of play was 18 points, with the team from Oporto unable to finish higher than third this season. The home side were on a run of two consecutive victories, although they had not won at home for two fixtures.

Sporting CP coach Rúben Amorim made two changes too the lineup fielded in the 3-0 win over Vitória SC: Defender Ousmane Diomande at centre back and striker Paulinho were included, at the expense of Nuno Santos and Gyökeres (it was in doubt). Antonio Adán and Matheus Reis remained out of action due to injury.

The start was a tough one for Sporting CP, who conceded for the first time in three games at an early stage in the contest. After just eight minutes, a mistake in the buildup left the ball on the edge of the area, and a pass from Pepê put Evanilson through on Franco Israel to open the scoring.

Despite this, an immediate shot by Pedro Gonçalves that went slightly wide started the reaction. After a quarter of an hour of play, a header from Paulinho went just over the crossbar.

From the outset, it became evident that Sporting CP would look to take the initiative with the ball, but they experienced several difficulties dealing with FC Porto's more direct strategy.

A Francisco Trincão effort ended up in the hands of goalkeeper Diogo Costa, whilst at the other end Evanilson shot into the side netting.

In the 40th minute, the home team increased the scoreline to 2-0, as Martim Fernandes sprinted off following a throw-in and, benefiting from a slip by Morten Hjulmand, found Pepê in the area to finish off.

Shortly afterwards, another Sporting CP player slipped in the vicinity of the area and only Franco Israel prevented Francisco Conceição from making it 3-0.

For the second half, Amorim took a risk with the introduction of Viktor Gyökeres -still not fully fit after an injury- for the final 45 minutes at the Estádio do Dragão. He came on for Daniel Bragança, whilst five minutes later, Jeremiah St. Juste made way for Eduardo Quaresma.

It would be FC Porto who provided the first threat, from the feet of Francisco Conceição. In contrast, Sporting CP were looking for their fresh striker, but without success.

Amorim made another change and Hidemasa Morita and Nuno Santos came on at the hour mark, meaning Pedro Gonçalves returned to the frontline and Inácio moved into the midfield trio.

Off a sequence of Sporting CP set pieces, Morita had his header blocked by an opposition player. Then, Gonçalves had a look from distance that Diogo Costa saved.

With the clock ticking down, FC Porto began to defend deeper. That, combined with Sporting CP's pressure and relentless attacking, would provide the opening for a way back into the game.

In the 87th minute, a beautiful cross from Nuno Santos found Gyökeres for a precision header, taking the score to 2-1.

Neither Sporting CP nor Gyökeres stopped there. Galvanised, they attacked again and in less than a minute they pulled level. Geny Catamo recovered the ball in the opposition midfield, the team streamed forward towards Diogo Costa's goal and, inside the area, second half substitute Marcus Edwards provided a gorgeous assist for Gyökeres, who only had to tap the ball into the net. His 26th goal in the league brought Sporting CP level, 2-2.

Before the end, Edwards was shown a straight red card, but FC Porto were unable to capitalise and O Clássico ended in a 2-2 draw.

The two teams will face each other again this season, in the Taça de Portugal final at Jamor. Before that, the final stretch of the league season continues next Saturday at home to Portimonense SC.

Sporting CP: Franco Israel [GK], Jeremiah St. Juste (Eduardo Quaresma, 50’), Ousmane Diomande (Nuno Santos, 60’), Sebastián Coates [C], Gonçalo Inácio, Geny Catamo, Morten Hjulmand, Daniel Bragança (Viktor Gyökeres, 46’), Francisco Trincão, Pedro Gonçalves (Marcus Edwards, 86’), Paulinho (Hidemasa Morita, 60’).