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Photo by Isabel Silva e José Lorvão

Sporting CP close league season with win against CD Santa Clara

By Sporting CP
15 May, 2022

The team with 4-0 at home in the season finale

Sporting Clube de Portugal signed off the Liga Portugal season with a 4-0 victory over CD Santa Clara at the Estádio José Alvalade, with goals from Bruno Tabata, Pedro Porro, Pablo Sarabia and Marcus Edwards.

Coach Rúben Amorim made changes to the starting XI for the game, opting for João Virgínia, Luís Neto, Sebastián Coates, Gonçalo Inácio, Pedro Porro, João Palhinha, Daniel Bragança, Nuno Santos, Bruno Tabata, Pablo Sarabia and Pedro Gonçalves.

The first half featured a special moment between the fans and two departing players: Zouhair Feddal and Pablo Sarabia were playing their last match for the club, and the latter was acknowledged in the 17th minute with chants from the Sportinguistas.

The first half went by without big chances until the final minutes, despite attacks from both teams. Sporting CP provided the first warning through Luís Neto, off a corner, which Ricardo Fernandes kept out. Sarabia would then be thwarted by the away side's defence.

João Virgínia was only called upon to intervene in the 13th minute, when a long-range shot by Lincoln was dealt with by the goalkeeper.

In the 41st minute, Sporting CP opened the scoring. Pedro Gonçalves' cross from the left was not cleared by Santa Clara's Paulo Henrique, and the ball reached Tabata for him to convert.

In stoppage time, Porro had the chance to make it 2-0 after a cross by Nuno Santos, but Paulo Henrique this time managed to send it out for a corner.

The second half began with another opportunity for Sporting CP: After receiving a pass from  Gonçalves, Sarabia forced Ricardo Fernandes to make two saves in a row.

Five minutes later, a cross by Nuno Santos was met by Porro, who broke free from Ricardinho and appeared at the far post to double the lead.

Sarabia got his goal a further five minutes later, from another cross from the left. This time Gonçalves was the provider, and the Spaniard, with only Ricardo Fernandes to beat, put away the chance. It was to be his final goal before returning to PSG at the end of his loan spell.

Amorim then started to make changes, taking off Bruno Tabata and João Palhinha for Marcus Edwards and Manuel Ugarte. Soon after, Sarabia - the most applauded player on a night of strong support for all of the team- went off to make way for Rodrigo Ribeiro.

The young forward could have extended the lead, with his shot taking a deflection and ending up going over CD Santa Clara's goal. Gonçalves then had two consecutive opportunities to go wide.

Marcus Edwards had better luck, scoring soon after with a left footed shot from distance, slammed into the top corner to make it 4-0.

Sebastián Coates and João Virgínia were then withdrawn and José Marsà - in his full for the first team - and André Paulo were brought on.

With no more goals, Sporting CP concluded the season with a rout in what was their 27th triumph in the competition this season. They also had four draws and three defeats, scored 73 goals and conceded 23. Second position in the table takes them directly into the Group Stage of the Champions League next season.

Photo by Sporting CP

Amorim: "We want to give a good showing in the last game"

By Sporting CP
13 May, 2022

The coach previews the season finale against CD Santa Clara

Sporting Clube de Portugal will face CD Santa Clara this Saturday (8:30pm local time), at the Estádio José Alvalade, on the 34th and final Matchday of the Liga Portugal season.

In the runup to the game, coach Rúben Amorim analysed the team from the Azores and stressed that his side will “take advantage of every minute of play to grow as a team."

“We're going to do that against opponents who defend well and have improved a lot under Mário Silva. They're used to not losing games and they have quality players. Therefore, I foresee a difficult match -even although its without great responsibility- for both teams. We are Sporting CP and we want to give a good showing in the last game for the fans," he began by telling journalists.

"We wanted to score 88 points, but we can only reach 85 and that is the objective."
Asked about his assessment of the season, on a scale of 0-10, Amorim was peremptory in stating that “in football, it's all or nothing."

“Either you win and it's 10, or you don't win and it's 0. I don't like to give a number because there can be different interpretations, but we didn't win Liga Portugal so it's 0."
He also took stock of his own performance as coach during the season.

“I have to improve in a lot of things, whether in the way I approach the games, in my understanding of the game or how I react in moments of pressure. But all this grows with experience. When I say that the team have evolved this season and that the difference compared to last year is a big one, it also comes from the coach's experience. The coach the game differently now and knows the players better. I need to grow in everything, just like coaches with a 20-year career behind them."

Finally, Amorim surprised those present by revealing the starting XI for the last game of the season. 

“João Virgínia, Nuno Santos, Gonçalo Inácio, Sebastián Coates, Luís Neto, Pedro Porro, Daniel Bragança, João Palhinha, Pedro Gonçalves, Sarabia and Tabata will play."

Photo by Isabel Silva

Sporting CP fight back in Portimão

By Sporting CP
08 May, 2022

​The team recover from going behind to win 2-3 against Portimonense SC

Sporting Clube de Portugal took a 2-3 victory over Portimonense SC on the penultimate matchday of the Liga Portugal season, with two goals from second half substitute Pablo Sarabia turning the scoreline around in the second half.

Before kickoff at Portimão Estádio, Sporting CP had conceded the league title to FC Porto, as their rivals' win away at SL Benfica meant that the gap was mathematically insurmountable.

Coach Rúben Amorim made two changes to the starting XI that had featured against Gil Vicente FC: The suspended Luís Neto was out of the squad and Sarabia rotated to the bench, making way for captain Sebastián Coates -back after injury– and Bruno Tabata. Youngster José Marsà was among those called up to travel with the team, in the absence of Zouhair Feddal through injury.

With more possession of the ball from the get-go, Sporting CP quickly took the initiative and created the first opportunities, finding spaces behind an opposing back line of five and sometimes even six players.

The team continued with a mobile trio in attack, this time with Tabata as the new intermediary on his return to Portimão, playing against his former club.

After Pedro Gonçalves and Tabata had initial attempts go off target, Sporting CP found the net in the 12th minute. Tabata chased a lost ball in the Portimonense SC area and opened the scoring, after a good solo initiative by Marcus Edwards.

However, just before half an hour into the game, the script underwent a major upheaval. After Matheus Nunes had shot from afar and had his effort saved by Samuel Portugal, the home side responded with maximum effectiveness in their maiden attacks. First, of a direct free kick that took a decisive deflection off the wall, Carlinhos put them back on terms. From the next move, Welinton Júnior finished a quick transition with a chip over Antonio Adán, turning the score around to 2-1.

A a frenetic phase with several chances followed, mainly for Os Leões . For Portimonense SC, Shoya Nakajima had a shot kept out by Adán, before Sporting CP took the reins of the game again and laid siege to the opposition goal. First, Pedro Porro set up Pedro Gonçalves perfectly, but the forward mishit. Later, Tabata headed an effort onto the crossbar.

The equaliser seemed close, and Porro came very close to surprising Samuel Portugal with a free kick from the wing, but the visitors still trailed at the interval.

For the second half, Amorim moved Ricardo Esgaio (on for Matheus Reis) to the right side of the midfield, switching Gonçalo Inácio to the left side. With Porro increasingly higher up the pitch, the main threat after the restart was by the Spaniard. In the 56th minute, Amorim decided to bring on Sarabia and Manuel Ugarte to replace Pedro Gonçalves and João Palhinha.

Both goalkeepers were called upon, but it was Samuel Portugal who had the most to do. Nuno Santos played through Edwards, but was thwarted by the Portimonense SC custodian.

Finally, Sporting CP pulled level on 70 minutes. A cross by Porro was followed by two deflections; the first off Edwards and the second, decisively, by Sarabia, who turned the ball in at the back post.

The reaction would not stop there, as just five minutes later, the Spanish forward scored again, reaching a precise low cross by Tabata to convert his second goal -to the delight of the travelling Sportinguistas.

Sporting CP would have a goal disallowed for VAR and a Bragança strike kept out by the goalkeeper, but a 2-3 turnaround was enough to give them the three points.
The last match of the Liga Portugal season sees the team play CD Santa Clara next weekend.

Sporting CP: Antonio Adán [GR], Pedro Porro, Gonçalo Inácio, Sebastián Coates [C], Matheus Reis (Ricardo Esgaio 45'), João Palhinha (Manuel Ugarte 56'), Matheus Nunes (Daniel Bragança 61'), Pedro Gonçalves (Pablo Sarabia 56'), Marcus Edwards and Bruno Tabata (Rodrigo Ribeiro 84').

Photo by Isabel Silva

Amorim: "We had a great response"

By Sporting CP
08 May, 2022

​The coach reviews the win over Portimonense SC

After the 2-3 triumph against Portimonense SC, coach Rúben Amorim analysed the match and praised his team's ability to react and turn the scoreline around.

"We had pride and quality and bad luck in the way that we conceded the goals, because two breaks from Portimonense SC resulted in them scoring. We had several opportunities. The players showed a great response. Even knowing that FC Porto were champions and starting the game winning and suffering a setback, in the second half they had a great response," he began by telling journalists in the press conference.

After congratulating FC Porto on winning the title, the coach looked back at his team's journey this season, stressing that "detail makes the difference in the league."

"What we can improve is paying attention to details, because looking at this six-point gap, any game can make a difference", he said, remembering in particular the defeats against CD Santa Clara and SC Braga.

"We have grown a lot over the season, and we are much more of a team."

Finally, asked to take stock of the campaign as a whole, with the Super Taça and Taça da Liga won, he described the trophy hall as "scarce for a club like Sporting CP, who want to win everything."

"We won two finals, and we were up there in the decisive moments -and that's important. It doesn't salvage a season, but we were up there. We have to grow through small details, but I also don't forget that Sporting CP haven't defended a title for 71 years: They were not champions for 19 years and hadn't finished in second place after being champions for 51 years. That also makes a difference. Overall, the verdict is negative, but the way I lead the group, I have to show that whilst history shows something that is very difficult to change, we are going to do it."

Photo by Bernardo Vidal

Amorim: "The objective is to win and improve in relation to the last game"

By Sporting CP
06 May, 2022

​The coach gives a pre-match press conference before the game against Portimonense SC

Sporting Clube de Portugal play away to Portimonense SC this Saturday, on Matchday 33 of the Liga Portugal campaign. Ahead of the game, coach Rúben Amorim praised the opposition, whilst also stating his confidence in his side taking the three points.

“It will certainly be a difficult game, at a difficult ground, against a team who are very strong at defending in set pieces and have very strong transitions, as we saw at Alvalade. They won't be fielding the same XI as last time, because some players have left and there are others suspended, so there will be changes in the characteristics of the players, but not in their idea," he stated.

"We have studied the opposition and we are ready for the game. We are in good form and scoring many goals, but cannot suffer with so few opportunities granted to the opponents. The objective is to win and improve in relation to the last game,” added the coach.

Sporting CP are relying on slipups from their rivals in the title chase during the final weeks, and Amorim commented that “We have to have the same attitude, whether we have a chance or not. When you are at Sporting CP you always have to think about trophies, but there are two games to go and we have to win our game, earn our points, remain the best defence and we have to score more goals. We want to improve in every aspect and, when there is a champion crowned, we have to start preparing for the next season."

Despite saying that “anything is possible in football,” he admitted that he does not believe that Sporting CP can still win the title, but made it clear that he takes away very positive things from this season.

“The analysis is made at the end of the season. So far we've won two trophies, but it can't be considered very good if we don't win the league."

“I take a lot of positive things from this season. Now we are better and we have a better team. In terms of the club, because we didn't win the title, it's not positive, but the players are much better, they have a lot more experience, we've made it into the Champions League group stage again and we're still fighting for trophies."

“The players are growing fast, and there are others who don't have as much of a role, but who can appear at any time. That's why I feel very positive. I know that coaches live on results, but looking at this team, I'm more and more excited about what they can give and that's why my idea of keeping this team going to the fullest. We have the potential to grow, although obviously we have to make some changes,” he explained.

For this match, Amorim will have captain Sebastián Coates, whom he calls "important in all aspects of the game, and everything else,” available. An injury relapse leaves Zouhair Feddal out, making room for the call-up of José Marsà.

Training for Portimonense SC

By Sporting CP
06 May, 2022

​The squad prepare for their Saturday fixture

Sporting Clube de Portugal trained on Thursday morning for their match against Portimonense SC, scheduled for Saturday at 8:30pm local time.

Rúben Amorim had the entire squad at his disposal, also calling up several players from the youth setup: Diego Calai, Rodrigo Ribeiro, Chico Lamba, Rafael Fernandes, José Marsà, Flávio Nazinho, Miguel Menino, Edson Silva, Lucas Dias, Vando Félix and Tiago Rodrigues.

The team will have a further session on Friday morning at the Academia Sporting, before Amorim previews the Liga Portugal Matchday 33 game in his press conference.

Photo by José Lorvão

Amorim: "We completely dominated the game"

By Sporting CP
03 May, 2022

The coach explains how his side beat Gil Vicente FC

In the aftermath of the triumph over Gil Vicente FC, Sporting Clube de Portugal coach Rúben Amorim expressed his thoughts that the win was more than deserved, also highlighting the role of his attacking trio - Marcus Edwards, Pablo Sarabia and Pedro Gonçalves - in obtaining the victory.

“We managed to understand where the space was, because Gil Vicente FC defended a little higher and there were some moments in which we gave them the ball. The fact that they pressed us higher meant that we were able to break through several times, and it was because of our width that we had that capacity. Samuel Lino, as we knew, made an adjustment to play with a five-man defence, and when they wanted to put pressure on us, they had difficulties in catching Nuno Santos and Porro,” he began by saying in his press conference after the game.

“The players were good at bringing the ball out and realising that the space was out wide, in addition to them having the individual quality to solve problems. We reached areas in which we could score many times, but we didn't finish the chances very well. Either Porro's crossing was too heavy or Nuno Santos' crosses were slightly late. We can improve on that, but we showed a lot of good things. We missed a lot of chances, but we completely dominated the game."

Asked about Rodrigo Ribeiro, the 17-year-old forward who came on at the end of the game, Amorim said that he was a young player “with a lot of talent."

“He can play in any of the front three positions, because of his mobility, and he is very intelligent. Even though he doesn't have that much experience training with us, he knows how to organise the press from the middle. He had the help of his teammates and I noticed that. The way he received the ball and took it to goal to finish shows his personality. On his second move, the way he controlled with his left foot, turned around and didn't rush to shoot, are details that we noticed when he started training with us,” he revealed.
Amorim also commented on the fact that this result guaranteed Sporting CP a spot in the UEFA Champions League group stage.

“It is something that was down to us, and that no one can take away from us anymore. Even so, we have to beat Portimonense SC and that's all we have to think about,” he stressed, before explaining why Pedro Gonçalves took the second penalty, after Pablo Sarabia had converted the first. 

“They were the ones who made the switch. I could even have said it, because Pote needed a goal, but I didn't say anything. Nuno Santos also wanted to score, but they gave Pote the opportunity and that shows that they know each other well,” concluded the coach.

Photo by José Lorvão / Isabel Silva

Win against Gil Vicente FC guarantees second place minimum

By Sporting CP
03 May, 2022

A 4-1 victory means Sporting CP will have Champions League Group Stage football next term

Sporting Clube de Portugal beat Gil Vicente FC by 4-1 on Matchday 32 of the Liga Portugal season, and secured a lowest possible finish of second place for the current campaign. The team thus have a guaranteed a place in next season's UEFA Champions League Group Stage.

With captain Sebastián Coates unavailable due to injury and Bruno Tabata suspended, coach Rúben Amorim reshuffled his defence to put Gonçalo Inácio in the centre, Luís Neto on the right and Matheus Reis on the left, in addition to bringing back Pedro Porro. In attack, the trident of Marcus Edwards, Pablo Sarabia and Pedro Gonçalves was retained.

As part of a club initiative for Mother's Day in Portugal, the players came out with the names of their mothers on their shirts.

Sporting CP provided the first warning right away: Nuno Santos, from distance, tested the reflexes of goalkeeper Andrew.

As expected, Sporting CP began to dominate against the league's fifth placed side, pushing on the wings in an attempt to find spaces behind the opposing defense. However, it turned out to be from a set piece that they came close to opening the scoring again. Off a free kick on the edge of the area, Sarabia shot powerfully, missing the target by centimetres.

The first goal of the match arrived from a penalty, when Nuno Santos was brought down on 19 minutes and Pablo Sarabia converted for his 18th goal of the season.

Even with the advantage, Sporting CP did not take their foot off the accelerator and remained focused on attacking. After Sarabia had tried his luck on two more occasions -one of them going just wide-, Pedro Porro came close to a fantastic goal with a drive that pushed Andrew to the limit.

It was only a matter of time before the second goal was scored, in the 38th minute. Following a header by Neto, poorly met by the goalkeeper, Marcus Edwards tapped in the rebound to make it 2-0.

Gil Vicente FC managed to pull a goal back through Fran Navarro in the final moments of the first half, and before the whistle Pedro Gonçalves shot wide from inside the area.

On their return from the interval – and after the rugby, swimming and gymnastics teams had been honored at half-time for their respective recent trophies– Sporting CP came back out onto the pitch with an unchanged lineup and with the same hunger. After Sarabia threatened with a shot that went over, the third goal arrived through an own goal by Lucas Cunha, who was attempting to clear a cross from Nuno Santos.

Amorim then brought on Paulinho in place of Edwards, giving a fixed centre forward to the attack, and on his first intervention he backheeled for a long-range shot from Gonçalves -again kept out by Andrew.

The chances followed one another, including a second penalty of the match: In the 63rd minute, from a penalty, Gonçalves scored his 15th goal of 2021/22.

From then on, the home team slowed down and preferred to play in a more reserved fashion. Although Gil Vicente pushed, the more dangerous chances were for Sporting CP, who threatened again through Nuno Santos and Paulinho.

With everything practically decided, the final minutes were notable only for a long range effort wide from Rodrigo Ribeiro, the 17-year-old forward who came on for Sarabia.  
Os Leões, who surpassed the hundred-goal mark this season – they now have 102 –, will play their 33rd and penultimate Liga Portugal match on Saturday, May 7th, away to Portimonense SC.

Sporting CP: Antonio Adán [GR], Luís Neto [C], Gonçalo Inácio, Matheus Reis, Pedro Porro, João Palhinha (Manuel Ugarte, 66'), Matheus Nunes (Daniel Bragança, 83'), Nuno Santos, Marcus Edwards ( 56', Paulinho), Pedro Gonçalves (Rúben Vinagre, 67') and Pablo Sarabia (Rodrigo Ribeiro, 84').

Photo by José Lorvão

Amorim: "We were more like the team that we are used to being"

By Sporting CP
26 Apr, 2022

The coach is impressed by the reaction of his side against Boavista FC

After the 0-3 triumph over Boavista FC, Sporting Clube de Portugal coach Rúben Amorim analysed the performance and praised the response from his players.

"We were more like the team that we are used to being. We weren't that aggressive when we got into the box, but we had several balls in the first half that saw our three forwards facing up to the Boavista FC defence, and we created problems there. We got the opening goal in one of the few opportunities we had, but we were always in control of the game. We had another opportunity for Pablo [Sarabia] in the first period, and in the second half we controlled the game better, we found more space and we didn't let Boavista FC go on the attack," he began by telling journalists, before recognising that his team had some problems stopping Boavista FC's Gorré in the first half.

"[Gorré] created some difficulties for us, because he dropped back a lot to defend and when he had the ball he showed the ability to drive through, forcing Palhinha to help out in that space. In the second half that didn't happen, and we clearly controlled the game, created opportunities and the players who came on helped the team a lot: Manu [Ugarte] gave stability, Dani [Bragança] brought the quality he usually gives, just like Tabata, and [Rúben] Vinagre was very aggressive in looking for space."

 "The game went well, we gave few chances to Boavista FC, we created chances of our own and we were competent," summed up the coach.

Despite the slip-ups by FC Porto and SL Benfica on this matchday, Amorim said that he would stay true to his previous statements about the title fight.

"We knew it was very difficult and obviously it will be hard, but it's not worth thinking about the games in which we dropped points. It was good to get back to winning ways and move closer and closer to UEFA Champions League qualification, to keep our project going and focus on growth. I think that in the title race it doesn't change anything, but it's always good to cut the gap and the longer we keep things alive, the better for us," he underlined, adding: "We are there in the fight for second place and trying to delay the title being decided as much as possible."

Returning to his explanation of the game, Amorim emphasised his satisfaction with the team's adjustments.

"We were competent. When we have to defend, we all do it. We won and we didn't concede goals, so that was the response I expected after some bad times and everything that was said during the week. We focused on what we had to do, that's what we did and it's an excellent sign from the team."

He also passed comment on the performance of winter signing Marcus Edwards.

"Every time he has played, he has done very well. In the semifinal of the cup, he felt the rhythm of the game a lot and it was noticeable. I think he can give us much more, he knows that and he is still adapting to our way of working, but he is already approaching that. He was very good defensively too, in his pressing and covering spaces."

Photo by José Lorvão

Return to winning ways against Boavista FC

By Sporting CP
26 Apr, 2022

The team take a 3-0 triumph on the road in Liga Portugal

Sporting Clube de Portugal returned to Porto on Monday night for a league game against Boavista FC, won 0-3 by Os Leões. After a difficult week, they produced a consistent and effective response to get back to winning ways and close the gap to first place – now standing at six points.

In addition, the team are just one point away from clinching second place in Liga Portugal, which would take them directly into next season's UEFA Champions League group stage.

In changes from the game against FC Porto in the Taça de Portugal, coach Rúben Amorim left out the suspended Matheus Reis, Pedro Porro and Paulinho, as well as Manuel Ugarte, bringing in Nuno Santos, Ricardo Esgaio, João Palhinha and Marcus Edwards. In addition, Zouhair Feddal returned to the squad after an injury, joining youngsters Gonçalo Esteves and Rodrigo Ribeiro on the bench.

Sporting CP took the early initiative and played with plenty of width, and their first chance came from Esgaio down the right; Nunes, on the edge of the box, hit the ball badly, however. Fluid movement between the front three, regularly exchanging position, helped keep the team mobile and unpredictable.

Boavista FC were missing their top scorer, Petar Musa, and one of their most used players in Sebastián Pérez. They tried to stay organised and quickly go on the attack after each ball recovered - mainly through Kenji Gorré.

Sporting CP enjoyed 64% of the possession in the first half, and converted it into chances for the likes of Pedro Gonçalves, who shot off a rebound and had his effort blocked by Rafael Bracali.

They would open the scoring with another move created from the left channel, with Nuno Santos putting in a cross and Gonçalves bringing the ball down, Nunes striking with a low shot into the net for his fourth league goal of the season.

In the 40th minute, Sarabia tested Bracali from outside the area, but the goalkeeper sent out the Spaniard's swerving shot for a corner. 

The second half brought with it a more daring Boavista FC. In the 50th minute, Antonio Adán made his first save, holding off a long shot from Jeriel De Santis, whilst Makouta shot just wide. Amorim decided to make his first change shortly after, bringing in Ugarte in place of Nunes.

The second goal arrived immediately afterwards: To culminate a good collective move, Edwards' cross took a swerve off a deflection from Rodrigo Abascal, the ball hitting the post before completely crossing the line.

Further switches saw Rúben Vinagre and Bruno Tabata enter for Nuno Santos and Pedro Gonçalves. With less than a quarter of an hour to go, Amorim also introduced Feddal – back in action after more than a month sidelined – and also Daniel Bragança. 

Sporting CP hit the crossbar through a Paulinha header, as a third goal seemed ever closer. It would finally come when Tabata was fouled in the box, and he himself would convert the penalty as Os Leões won 0-3.

Currently on 76 points, Sporting CP are six points behind FC Porto and eight ahead of third-placed SL Benfica. Next up, they take on Gil Vicente FC at the Estádio José Alvalade on Sunday.

Sporting CP: Antonio Adán, Nuno Santos (Rúben Vinagre 68'), Gonçalo Inácio, Sebastián Coates [C] (Zouhair Feddal 78'), Luís Neto, Ricardo Esgaio, João Palhinha, Matheus Nunes (Manuel Ugarte 57'), Pedro Gonçalves (Bruno Tabata 68'), Marcus Edwards and Pablo Sarabia (Daniel Bragança 78').


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