Sporting CP stifled in derby defeat to SL Benfica
An attacking setup ends in a 0-2 loss at the Estádio José Alvalade
Sporting Clube de Portugal hosted SL Benfica in the Lisbon derby on Liga Portugal Matchday 30, losing 0-2 to their cross-town rivals as an attacking strategy failed to pay off.
Before kickoff, Jérémy Mathieu was honoured at the Estádio José Alvalade for the years he played at Sporting CP (from 2017/2018 to 2019/2020), receiving a shirt and a commemorative plaque from club president Frederico Varandas in front of the fans.
Sporting CP made three changes to the starting lineup, with João Palhinha, Nuno Santos and Paulinho brought in.
The first opportunity to score came in the ninth minute, when Pedro Gonçalves served up a ball to Paulinho that the striker shot wide, with only Odysseas to beat.
Against the run of play, Benfica scored the opener, as a long pass from Vertonghen found Darwin, who struck past Antonio Adán.
Sporting CP went in search of an equaliser, and In the 21st minute Gonçalo Inácio appeared in an excellent position to finish off a chance, but preferred to try to set up a teammate.
Benfica rarely left their own half and instead waited on any error from Os Leões, who were more adventurous in their approach.
In the 30th minute, Gonçalves shot wide. At the opposite end, Diogo Gonçalves shot hard to force Adán into a stop. Sporting CP reacted with their best chance so far: Pablo Sarabia picked out Gonçalves, whose attempt to beat Odysseas was stopped by the Greek goalkeeper.
SL Benfica had a goal disallowed for offside in the 38th minute, in a rare attack. Shortly after, Sarabia hit a free kick that Odysseas tipped out for a corner. The Spanish international again tried for an equaliser close to half-time, but shot over the top and Sporting CP trailed going into the break.
The second half started with the visitors causing danger - Everton shooting wide- but the response didn't take long in coming. A minute later, Nuno Santos crossed perfectly for Sarabia, who headed onto the crossbar. Off the rebound, Pedro Porro tried his luck, but Odysseas produced the block.
After two timid attempts from Porro and Paulinho, Rúben Amorim began to change things up, taking off Luís Neto and Gonçalves for Manuel Ugarte and Islam Slimani, respectively.
The game dropped in intensity as the second period progressed, and with just over 20 minutes to go, Ricardo Esgaio and Marcus Edwards replaced João Palhinha and Sarabia.
The play was more to SL Benfica, however, as they closed off their midfield and looked for the counter. That limited Sporting CP's chances to long range efforts from Paulinho and Edwards, without success.
SL Benfica made it 0-2 in added time through Gil Dias, for a result that hinders Os Leões' title defence.
Sporting CP will now turn their attention to the second leg of the Taça de Portugal semifinal, which takes place against FC Porto on Thursday.
Sporting CP: Antonio Adán [GR], Luís Neto (Manuel Ugarte, 58'), Sebastián Coates [C], Gonçalo Inácio, Pedro Porro, João Palhinha (Ricardo Esgaio, 69'), Matheus Nunes, Nuno Santos (Daniel Bragança, 88'), Pablo Sarabia (Marcus Edwards, 69'), Pedro Gonçalves (Islam Slimani, 58') and Paulinho.