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Photo by Isabel Silva, José Lorvão

Home win on return to Liga Portugal action

By Sporting CP
03 Mar, 2024

Sporting CP earn a 3-2 triumph at home against SC Farense

After defeating rivals SL Benfica in the Taça de Portugal in miweek, Sporting Clube de Portugal had a quick turnaround to return to league action, winning 3-2 against SC Farense, at home.

Without the injured Antonio Adán and Gonçalo Inácio, coach Rúben Amorim maintained Franco Israel in goal (featuring in Liga Portugal for the first time this season) and gave a return to the starting lineup for Jeremiah St. Juste (after three months out), Nuno Santos, Daniel Bragança and Ricardo Esgaio.

After a minute's silence was held in honour of Alexandre Baptista, a former Sporting CP player, the match began with the home team on the attack and building play patiently against their opponents' low block.

The movement upfield came mostly from the wings, and it was precisely from one of these advances that Sporting CP made it 1-0. After eleven minutes, following a cross from Esgaio, Bragança took advantage of a poor clearance by the defence and shot precisely to score.

Even after opening the scoring, Sporting CP continued to dominate, almost exclusively from the right side. They came very close to making it 2-0, first through St. Juste, who headed onto the post, then Talys Oliveira, who shot against the bar, and finally St. Juste again nodding wide.

After the warnings, the second goal arrived in the 29th minute. Following a beautiful combination, Viktor Gyökeres appeared at the near post to finish off Pedro Gonçalves' pass, scoring for the 32nd time this season.

Soon after, on 32 minutes, SC Farense reduced the deficit again through Belloumi.

Sporting CP were always playing very high up the pitch and enjoyed 75% possession of the ball in the first half. Marcus Edwards and Gonçalves once again threatened, with the latter coming close to scoring, but the slim advantage remained going into the interval.

Upon the restart, SC Farense looked more lively. Zé Luís shot against the bar, and a direct free kick followed in which Franco Israel was forced to apply himself to save both the strike and the rebound. Third time around, following the resulting corner, Zé Luís did not miss, heading to take the score to 2-2.

However, Sporting CP's response came just three minutes later. Off an attack from the right, Esgaio entered the area and set up Gonçalves, who only had to tap the ball in.

Eduardo Quaresma, Hidemasa Morita and Francisco Trincão were all brought on for a reshuffle to the Sporting CP side, followed by Paulinho.

The visitors found it difficult to attack in the final third due to the defensive solidity of Sporting CP, who continued searching for another goal. Trincão and Paulinho both had chances, although without success.

In the final stretch, with the game being played at a slower pace, SC Farense had more of the ball, but never managed to scare Franco Israel.

Sporting CP benefited from the last big chance of the game, with Bragança hitting an effort ont the top netting. The game ended 3-2 and took the team to 59 points for the season.

Now Sporting CP shift their focus to the UEFA Europa League on Wednesday,  in Alvalade, against Atalanta BC, in the first leg of the Round of 16.
Sporting CP: Franco Israel [GK], Jeremiah St. Juste (Sebastián Coates, 69'), Ousmane Diomande, Matheus Reis (Eduardo Quaresma, 54'), Ricardo Esgaio, Morten Hjulmand (Hidemasa Morita, 54'), Daniel Bragança [ C], Nuno Santos, Pedro Gonçalves (Francisco Trincão, 54'), Marcus Edwards (Paulinho, 78') and Viktor Gyökeres.

Photo by Isabel Silva

Amorim: "It's a game that we have to win"

By Sporting CP
02 Mar, 2024

The coach looks at the meeting with SC Farense on a critical week in Liga Portugal

This Sunday, Sporting Clube de Portugal host SC Farense on Matchday 24 of the Liga Portugal season, and Rúben Amorim gave a press conference to preview the game.

The coach began by commenting on Antonio Adán's injury, before talking about the opposition.

“Adán suffered a thigh injury during a drill when kicking the ball. It's a muscle injury. I hope to have him back this season, as it is a normal injury. Gonçalo Inácio continues to undergo treatment. Francisco Trincão has told me he's fine. He is very strong when it comes to putting up with pain and will be in the squad, as he is in very good form."

"We have two major absentees and we need the support of the fans, mainly due to the quality of SC Farense and their coach. We have to fight for every ball, because they are very strong off the second ball and one of the best teams when it comes to transitions. We have prepared the game aware of the absences, we have adapted the team and we will be prepared to have a good game, but we really need the fans."

Asked about the importance of FC Porto vs. SL Benfica, which will be played on the same day, Amorim explained that the group's only idea is to beat SC Farense and then “go to dinner rested and waiting to see what happens."

“In our minds, we know that we just need to win our games. We just want to get our victory and we know that this will be very difficult. It’s another matchday in which we cannot drop points, and the focus is only on our game," he highlighted.

Asked about an out-of-form SC Farense, the coach stated that "they have a very experienced team and coach. I know they will be prepared and what happened in the past doesn't matter. What matters are the first balls and avoiding transitions that could create instability in our team."

Without Adán, Sporting CP will need another goalkeeper on the bench, and Amorim seems likely to pick Diogo Pinto ahead of fellow 18-year-old Francisco Silva.

“Pinto has the chance to be on the bench and that goes a long way with goalkeeping coach [Jorge] Vital, although the decision will always be mine. It seems to me that Pinto has some advantage in this aspect.”

The starting role will belong to Franco Israel, who played in last Thursday's derby and already has ten appearances in 2023/24.

“He has a lot of personality, which will only give him more confidence. He has shown a lot of maturity in every game he played this season. I really liked his footwork against SL Benfica. He didn't have much of a chance with the goal he conceded. I see a goalkeeper with a high level of performance and a personality ready to take on the position."

Finally, the Sporting CP boss spoke about keeping his players fresh, in particular Viktor Gyökeres.

 “We manage the squad according to the competitions and what we think is essential for the team. There are players who have to suffer, others not so much. The ability to resist injury comes into play. Viktor is a striker who, sometimes, is the only one on the team who can rest a little more when we are in defensive recovery mode. We have to win the game and, therefore, he is an option to play.”

Photo by Isabel Silva

Amorim: "We never lost control of the game"

By Sporting CP
29 Feb, 2024

The coach was satisfied after a 2-1 first leg win against SL Benfica

After Sporting Clube de Portugal's 2-1 victory over SL Benfica in the semifinals of the Taça de Portugal, coach Rúben Amorim analysed the derby in a press conference.

"We were always closer to scoring than SL Benfica, but it ended up being an advantage for us for the second leg. In the first half we were on top of the game, with good possession of the ball and aggression in our recovery. In the second half we fought back well and we never lost control of the game. SL Benfica got a goal without doing much, but then we balanced the game with many transitions -although we have to do better on our transitions. We were deserved winners, but we are midway through the tie," he began by telling journalists at the Auditorio Artur Agostinho.

Regarding the players' recovery for Sunday's game, the coach said that winning "helps", but that changes will be made.

"There are players who will not start in a game that will be very difficult. We already knew that this was going to be a very difficult run, and we're halfway through it. Everyone is going to have to play; we already knew that. It's a question of taking things day-by-day, game-by-game and hoping that there aren't any more injuries."

Going back to the victory over SL Benfica, Amorim admitted that Sporting CP could have achieved "a bigger advantage" but, at the same time, "we won a derby and have an advantage going into the second leg."

"We will be prepared. We always score goals and that will help. Now we have to focus on SC Farense," he added.

"The important thing was that, unlike the last derby here, we never lost control of the game. This team always want to score. We were very competent throughout the game and won fairly. We improved our ability to have the ball compared to the previous derby. At the Estádio da Luz , we played well in the first half, but we had some difficulties in reaching the opposition goal. This time we started better in the second half and no one was sent off, which makes a difference."

Regarding the goal disallowed against SL Benfica for offside, he was clear: "I'm not talking about refereeing and last week no one asked me about the foul on Pedro Gonçalves. I'll remain consistent on this."

Asked about Geny Catamo, he explained that the young Mozambican "has tactical knowledge and has what Porro also had, which is the ability to take players on, which is important," and he commented on the performances of Morten Hjulmand and Hidemasa Morita in midfield.

"They were very important. They played at a disadvantage, but they are very intelligent with and without the ball. When they start to physically break down the team drops in performance a little. But they complement each other well and they are good at set pieces. They put a lot of pace into the team, they help a lot of people. They had a huge influence and they had a great game," he concluded.

Photo by Isabel Silva, José Lorvão

Advantage Sporting CP in Taça de Portugal

By Sporting CP
29 Feb, 2024

A 2-1 win over SL Benfica gives Os Leões the aggregate lead

Sporting Clube de Portugal took an aggregate lead in the Taça de Portugal semifinals, with a 2-1 win against SL Benfica. Goals for Pedro Gonçalves and Viktor Gyökeres gave the team victory, and they will meet their local rivals once again at Estádio da Luz on April 3rd to decide who will go to Jamor for the final.

Coach Rúben Amorim made four changes to his starting XI: Antonio Adán, Gonçalo Inácio, Nuno Santos and Francisco Trincão were rotated out  and Franco Israel, Eduardo Quaresma, Matheus Reis and Marcus Edwards came in, whilst Paulinho returned from injury on the bench.

Sporting CP quickly began to dominate what would be an overwhelming first half from them. After eight minutes, Sebastián Coates found Geny Catamo with a great pass and he tried to serve up a ball to Viktor Gyökeres, but an opposition defender cut him off. Soon after, a penalty was appealed for when Gonçalves went down in a tussle with João Neves, but the referee allowed the action to continue.

The scoring was opened after nine minutes, as a perfect cross from Morten Hjulmand found Gonçalves at the far post, and he headed in perfectly off the post for his 14th goal of the 2023/24 season.

With a 1-0 lead, Sporting CP did not back down, and even attacked more and pressed very high, making it very difficult for SL Benfica to bring the ball out. On one of his characteristic runs, released by Hjulmand, Gyökeres went through and had his shot bounce off a defender for a corner. Gonçalves sent a corner into the heart of the area thereafter, and the Swede once again saw his attack blocked.

The one-way traffic continued and, in the 29th minute, Geny Catamo cut in very well from the right and tried to set up a teammate, but the defence cut it out. A free kick met by Ousmane Diomande also provided a chance, ending up in SL Benfica goalkeeper Trubin's hands.

SL Benfica started to press harder and higher, but Sporting CP were very solid comfortable, with the defensive line reacting well to play. Gyökeres continued to give his markers a lot of trouble and, in the 35th minute, carved out a shot for the visiting goalkeeper to save. Shortly afterwards, the striker shot into the side netting.

One of best opportunities to add to the lead came in the 44th minute, when a failed intercaption by SL Benfica resulted in the ball falling to Marcus Edwards. The Englishman, in an excellent position, could not time his shot well and was denied. SL Benfica only threatened in added time, with Otamendi's header off a corner kept out by Franco Israel.

Upon the restart, Sporting CP had a penalty kick awarded in their favour in the 47th minute for a foul on Edwards, but it was overruled for a previous offside by Viktor Gyökeres. Shortly afterwards, Geny Catamo had a shot that went slightly over the crossbar.

The second goal came soon, when Catamo played a magnificent trivela pass, releasing Gyökeres. He cut in from the right, held off Otamendi and beat Trubin at his near post for his 31st goal of the season.

Sporting CP did not take their foot off the accelerator and continued to be completely on top of proceedings. Gonçalves threatened with a direct free kick in the 57th minute and then Edwards had a shot blocked, whilst from one of SL Benfica's very rare attacks, João Mário shot for an easy save by Franco Israel.

However, against the run of play, SL Benfica scored through Aursnes and shortly afterwards believed they had grabbed an equaliser, but it was disallowed for offside.

With 15 minutes remaining, Ricardo Esgaio came on to replace Marcus Edwards and immediately pushed to make it 3-1 with a shot that went over the top.

At the other end, António Silva headed for another calm intervention by Franco Israel. Before the end, late substitute Nuno Santos struck in stoppage time with a phenomenal goal, but had his effort disallowed for offside.

Os Leões now hold the advantage going into the second leg, but return to Liga Portugal action this Sunday with a game against SC Farense -as they look to overtake SL Benfica in that competition.

Sporting CP: Franco Israel [GK], Eduardo Quaresma (Jeremiah St. Juste, 90+1'), Sebastián Coates [C], Ousmane Diomande, Geny Catamo (Nuno Santos, 86'), Morten Hjulmand (Daniel Bragança, 90+ 1'), Hidemasa Morita, Matheus Reis, Marcus Edwards (Ricardo Esgaio, 74'), Pedro Gonçalves (Paulinho, 90+1') and Viktor Gyökeres.

Amorim: "We're going to play our way in the derby"

By Sporting CP
28 Feb, 2024

The coach previews the cup showdown with SL Benfica

Thursday is derby day at the Estádio José Alvalade, as Sporting Clube de Portugal welcome rivals SL Benfica for the first of two legs in the Taça de Portugal semifinals.

On the eve of the game, coach Rúben Amorim gave a press conference in which he began by deconstructing his team's current situation, coming as they are off two draws.

“I think that in the derby last year we were in a worse spell and that was not demonstrated in the game, which we drew 2-2 against SL Benfica. The second half wasn't so good, but we played very well. Now, we have had two very different draws: With BSC Young Boys we should have won and against Rio Ave FC we didn't do the things we should have done on a difficult pitch,” he said at Alcochete, before focusing on the derby itself.

“Now it’s a different competition, over two legs, so we have to be intelligent in our approach to the game. Obviously, we are going to play our way: Trying to dominate and win, knowing that we are up against opponents with many players of high quality. They are the reigning league champions and are in first place in the table, so it's going to be a good game and we are clearly prepared for it."

Afterwards, asked about the offensive approach he expects from SL Benfica, who have recently been focusing on a more mobile attack, the coach pointed out several scenarios, noting, however, that “the game can become different depending on the players they field."

“We know their positioning and how we cope under pressure, but them playing [David] Neres or João Mário in the same position is completely different, for example. We are prepared for everything, we have watched their games and, even with little time available, we prepared the players for it. We realise that if Rafa plays as a forward, the pace is different from that of Arthur [Cabral] or Tengstedt."

“We have a way of defending that doesn't involve man-to-man marking, so we have to be strong in our principles and understand what type of player we are attacking. On the wings, them playing Morato or Aursnes completely changes their way of defending.”

Amorim also said that he expects a “strong” SL Benfica and that “this year the players will vary more."

"Throughout the match, the key for us will be adapting the way we defend, because when we are attacking we will do it the same way. Above all, it is an important game for us to get a good result for the second leg."

The Sporting CP coach confirmed that both Francisco Trincão and Gonçalo Inácio “are out of the game”, after coming off injured against Rio Ave FC, while striker Paulinho will be back amongst the options.

“Yesterday he was doing work with the physiotherapist, and today he said he felt good. We barely have players for the attack, and he immediately made himself available to play. It reveals a lot about his character and I'm going to put him in the squad, even if he's very limited in the number of minutes he can play. He is always a player who, even on the bench, helps us to be stronger."

He also revealed that Franco Israel will be the starting goalkeeper, as has been the case up to now in the competition.

“We have a cup game and Franco is the starter in it, so Franco will play. Afterwards, we will make our assessment from game to game," he explained.

"I know the squad, I know the options I have, I understand the moment we are in and I know the dynamics that exist within the group. My main objective is to win games.”

Regarding the lower impact of Marcus Edwards currently, Amorim reminded journalists that “these are phases for players and teams. Especially in big games, he has a huge impact and makes a difference.”

In the last three derbies, although they were the first to take the advantage, Sporting CP have been unable to maintain their lead. The coach refuted the idea of a “lack of experience" taking its toll.

“We have to understand the game at each moment and that requires a lot of concentration. Maybe we are the team that receives fewer attacks and concede more goals than other teams, so we have to grow in that aspect and we have to continue to score a lot of goals," he stressed.

"The derby always has a psychological impact, but that can change in the next game and, any case, nothing will be decided tomorrow."

“It has an impact, above all, on the preparation for the upcoming game. Whoever wins this derby and has the best result for the second leg will have more confidence for the rest of the season. Will this decide anything? No. It won't even decide the tie, nor will it define the rest of the league campaign. The big teams take things week by week."

Photo by José Lorvão

Amorim: "We should -and could- have done better"

By Sporting CP
25 Feb, 2024

The coach reflects on the 3-3 draw with Rio Ave FC

After the draw at home to Rio Ave FC (3-3), Sporting CP coach Rúben Amorim spoke in a press conference to analyse the match, acknowledging that his team “never had very much control."

“Rio Ave FC are very well organised. They were closer to their true level and we didn't reach ours. We conceded a goal very quickly, but then we took charge of the game, we created chances, we got the equaliser and took the lead, but we can't concede a goal like we did just before half time. It happened with BSC Young Boys and it happened again here. It was a decisive moment in the game," he considered, before mentioning that in the second half the team lacked finishing.

“We needed to play better. We were still looking for the winning goal until the end. It was a difficult game where we should -and could- have played better. A big club have to win almost every game to be champions. We didn't handle the pressure, we had a bad day and we came up against a better Rio Ave FC. There are games like this.”

Despite the less positive result, Amorim reaffirmed his confidence in his players.

“We are a team when we win and we are also a team when we lose. In the next game we have to be at our best, that is our mentality. We have bad days, but we have to look for good days,” he stated, before talking about the substitutions he was forced to make.

"Gonçalo Inácio went off at halftime due to injury. He felt a twinge in his leg and will now be evaluated. Francisco Trincão, suffered a knock. Both are likely to be out for the next game,” he said, referring to the derby against SL Benfica for the Taça de Portugal.

“We feel bad about the result. We had won several games and the group are upset because they know we can do better. But this draw in Vila do Conde will have no impact on the derby. It's a different story and a different competition and we will be prepared for the game."

Photo by José Lorvão

3-3 draw with Rio Ave FC

By Sporting CP
26 Feb, 2024

A back-and-forth game ends with the spoils shared

Sporting Clube de Portugal drew 3-3 with Rio Ave FC in a Sunday night showdown on Matchday 23 in Liga Portugal. Sebastián Coates scored the equaliser for the team, who had previously overcome a deficit to go ahead through Morten Hjulmand and Viktor Gyökeres. 

Facing a team in an uncomfortable 16th place, Rúben Amorim made five changes to the Sporting CP starting XI. Coates, Geny Catamo, Nuno Santos, Hidemasa Morita and Pedro Gonçalves all came in while Eduardo Quaresma, Ricardo Esgaio, Matheus Reis, Daniel Bragança and Marcus Edwards were on the bench – striker Paulinho continued to be an absentee due to injury.

Vila do Conde's Estádio dos Arcos was a daunting place to go. Rio Ave FC hadn't lost in six games at home, since October of last year, and had only conceded three goals in those matches.

Three minutes into the game, the forecast rain and wind arrived, bringing with it a Rio Ave FC goal. From the first attack of the match, a long pass to the left was followed up by Umaro Embaló cutting inside, sending a shot into the net. The disadvantage did not last more than six minutes, however, as off a corner kick, Morten Hjulmand appeared in the area to strike low and restore parity.

A double opportunity to score came shortly after, but Rio Ave's Jhonatan denied Viktor Gyökeres off his hit from outside the area and, on the rebound, he did the same to Francisco Trincão. After the 20th minute, Gyökeres once again aimed for goal, but without success.

Rio Ave FC not only survived this tough phase but also responded with danger. First, with Embaló shooting over the bar when Adán was still getting into position, then Fábio Ronaldo hitting the post off a fast attack.

In a crazy end to the first half, a poor backpass was latched onto for Gyökeres to score his 30th goal for the club -and the team's 100th in 2023/2024. On the next move, in stoppage time, Yakubu Aziz converted a penalty given due to a foul by Nuno Santos.

In between the goals, Trincão was injured, being replaced by Marcus Edwards. At halftime, Amorim made another change by introducing Eduardo Quaresma for Gonçalo Inácio – Diomande occupying the centre back spot on the left.

Upon the restart, Sporting CP's intentions became clear. Miguel Nóbrega needed to cut out a clinical pass by Gyökeres for Edwards in the best opportunity early on. After an hour of play, Gonçalves went down in the area, with the penalty appeal ignored, and Amorim made further substitutions, introducing Matheus Reis for Nuno Santos.

A penalty was given against Sporting CP, as Adán committed a foul in the box. Aziz converted to put Rio Ave FC ahead for the second time.

Sporting CP's reaction was not long in coming, captain Coates appearing when he was most needed. Gonçalves crossed into the area and the Uruguayan central defender rose highest to head in, making it 3-3. He then stayed up front with Gyökeres for the closing quarter-hour. They looked for a winning goal until the end, but both Edwards and Gonçalves shot well over. There was a late sending off for Rio Ave's Pantalon, but no change on the scoresheet.

With this draw in Vila do Conde, Sporting CP were unable to take advantage of FC Porto's own draw in Barcelos and are now in second place with 56 points, two behind SL Benfica. Their local rivals are their next opponents, but in the Taça de Portugal semifinals on Thursday.

Sporting CP: Antonio Adán [GR], Geny Catamo, Ousmane Diomande, Sebastián Coates [C], Gonçalo Inácio, Nuno Santos (Matheus Reis, 61'), Morten Hjulmand, Hidemasa Morita, Francisco Trincão (Marcus Edwards, 44'), Pedro Gonçalves, Viktor Gyökeres.

Photo by isabel Silva

Amorim: "We have a big responsibility to win"

By Sporting CP
24 Feb, 2024

The coach looks at the game against Rio Ave FC

Sporting Clube de Portugal play Rio Ave this Sunday at 8:30pm, on the 23rd matchday in Liga Portugal.

Previewing the match, coach Rúben Amorim praised the opposing team, before highlighting the objective of winning to remain at the top of the table.

“Mr Freire, the Rio Ave coach, made his way up the division and is someone with a lot of talent for coaching. They strengthened the squad well in January, because they had a period where he couldn't bring players in and he increased the solutions. Umaro brings options to field Ronaldo further forward and Adrien gives different characteristics and experience to the team. We know that Aderllan and Boateng are suspended and that could also have an influence, because they are two strong players from set pieces and I think dead balls will be very important in this game2, he explained in his press conference.

"Furthermore, I think that the state of the pitch, due to the weather conditions, will make life difficult for both teams. We will have to adapt to the playing surface. It will be a very difficult game and we have a big responsibility to win. Therefore, we will have to adapt to the characteristics of this game”.

"We did a lot of tactical work ahead of this one. We have a plan for if the pitch is playable and we have another plan for if it isn't and we have to play a more direct game, based on second balls and set pieces”.

Amorim added that: “We don't know which games are the most important, but the only focus we have is to win this game, maintain our place, try to move up the order and, above all, demonstrate to everyone -and, mainly, to ourselves- that, that whatever happens on the pitch and the conditions we encounter, we are capable of winning the game. Even though the results for other teams may come to mind, our focus is to win under any conditions”.

The coach revealed that Paulinho will return soon and that there are no longer any players unavailable for the game.

“The uncertainty in terms of the calendar is what I'm finding the most difficult, but I think the next games are already set in stone. I’m not going to say it’s 100%, but we’re going to play SC Farense on Sunday, the Taça de Portugal on Thursday and then Atalanta BC on the following Wednesday”.

“They will be three very difficult games, in which we have to win and in which competitions are decided. In the league, we cannot drop points. We're thinking about them one at a time. Now it's Rio Ave FC, who we know will be very difficult, and then we'll soon see how we handle things and what happens with the players. If we think too far ahead it will be very difficult”, he added.

Amorim also spoke about the draw for the UEFA Europa League Round of 16, which will pit his side against Atalanta BC.

“It was a draw in which there would always be a strong team against us. We already know Atalanta BC, Atalanta BC also know us, but we have grown in this period and so have they. I think the number of games we have at the moment will have an impact. They are a very strong team physically, so we have to manage things well to be able to match their intensity. The good thing is that the analysis department were extremely happy because they barely have time to watch the teams. As soon as Atalanta BC's name was drawn, they were the only ones who shouted loudly -because it makes the job a lot easier”.

Photo by José Lorvão

Training ahead of Rio Ave FC game

By Sporting CP
23 Feb, 2024

The squad work with the league in mind

Sporting Clube de Portugal trained on Friday morning at the Academia Cristiano Ronaldo, with the most used players from the game against BSC Young Boys doing the usual post-game recovery work, while the rest worked normally under the orders of coach Rúben Amorim.

The team play Rio Ave FC in a Sunday fixture in Liga Portugal.

Photo by Isabel Silva

Amorim: "It's frustrating because we should have won"

By Sporting CP
22 Feb, 2024

The coach comments on the Europa League progress

Rúben Amorim talked after Sporting CP moved on to the Round of 16 of the Europa League, expressing that his team deserved to have translated their superiority against BSC Young Boys into a second victory in the playoff tie.

In the second leg Sporting CP created more than enough opportunities to win, but the opposition goalkeeper had an excellent second half, even denying Viktor Gyökeres from the penalty spot.

“I'm not worried about the players missing, because we haven't missed a lot. Sometimes it's a half, or a goal we've lacked, but there are days like that. We do have to have a feeling of frustration because we should have won this game, we should have had another victory in Europe, which I think is always important. It didn't happen, but I don't have much to reproach the players for, as there was no drop in opportunities, there was no drop in our level of performance or intensity. I really think we should have another victory in Europe. It didn't happen, but we demonstrated in both legs that we were the better side and I think that became even clearer in this second game”, the coach Leonino began by saying, stressing: “We won 2-1 against Raków, but we didn't have the feeling that we played very well in that game. This time, we played very well and created a lot of opportunities. We were superior, we went through, and the only point of frustration that exists is because we didn't win and we should have won”.

The next European opponents will be revealed this Friday in the Round of 16 draw, but Sporting CP are already looking to the domestic league and Amorim is not worried about anything else.

“I have no preference for the draw because, honestly, we are only focused on Rio Ave FC. We cannot drop points. In the Europa League you need to be lucky -and when I say lucky, it's not just in terms of the opponents, it's the games themselves, not having injuries so you can rotate and be prepared for anything. The opposition is indifferent at the moment. Of course there are teams that are more difficult to beat, but I’m only thinking about Rio Ave”.

Amorim also spoke of the support for Gyökeres, who had the Sportinguistas chant his name even louder after he missed the penalty.

“This is also an excellent sign. It’s because they like him a lot and because they see the team pushing to be superior to the opposition, and they want to give the player strength. I've already said it: You can feel the connection between the fans and the players”.


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