As well as my little bit on my stadium experience in Lisbon a couple of weeks ago, I thought I would get round, at last, to doing a small match report.
Things started off rather poorly for the home side a fortnight ago. Tobias Figueiredo, the young Sporting centre-half, was booked for a rather stonewally foul in the Braga penalty area in the fifteenth minute of the match. Colombian Felipe Pardo ignored the utterly deafening whistles of the home supporters, and sent the 37 away fans a bit wild to give Braga the lead.
As fellow lovers of the beautiful game may be aware, Nani was on loan at Sporting this season just finished. In the 24th minute, he was booked, and the Portuguese lady sitting next to me was not impressed with the circumstances. The Manchester United cut up the left wing and found himself faced with a determined-looking Braga defender. Nani succeeded in doing about 6 stepovers, lost the ball, fouled the man who stole it from him, and in doing so got booked. He was underwhelming as always, and in his last match at the Jose Alvalade before he went back to Manchester.
With half-time approaching and the green and white hooped Lisboans becoming a tad restless, Sporting drew level. A penalty was given, and to this day I have no idea why but presumably the referee spotted some kind of infringement. Regardless, Adrien Silva calmly stuck the ball home from 12 yards.
Half time arrived with the score 1-1, and I have to say I was a little unimpressed with what was on show. Lots of losing possession, dodgy passes and heavy touches on show from both sides. The Ultras to my left were undoubtedly the highlight. I liked Joao Mario, the young winger, who had probably been the most enterprising Sporting player on show.
Seven minutes in the second half and the home fan were shouting “DOIS! UM!” at the announcer as Sporting took the lead. Braga failed to clear their lines at the first ball, and Tobias was there, having had a rather eventful game already, to stick the ball in and cheer up the home fans. “Golo” indeed.
Twenty minutes later, 2-1 became 3-1 with the game’s first bit of real quality. Adrien picked up the ball 25 yards out, and lashed it into the net past Matheus in the Braga goal.
With that, the match was largely over. It wasn’t too late for substitute Islam Slimani, a player I was rather keen to see, to add a bit of icing to Sporting’s cake. A good ball in from the Sporting right found the Algerian international completely unmarked on the edge of the Braga six-yard area, and having done nothing since he came on at half time, he side-footed one home.
With the final whistle, it was a fairly resounding win for the home side. I liked the look of Joao Mario, as well as Carvalho and Adrien for Sporting. Nani received an outstanding ovation from the home support in his last game of his loan spell at the Alvalade, but he was largely his incredibly frustrating self. I did also get to see Alan play for Braga, which I enjoyed mainly as he’s a man who has decided to call himself just “Alan”. As mentioned, I wasn’t overly impressed with the quality of football on show, though it did improve a little in the second half. This result also made one thing clear – after Atletico’s 4-0 win the last time we went to a game abroad, Clare and I are pretty good luck for foreign football teams.
Sporting CP 4-1 Braga (Tobias, Adrien x2 (1 pen), Slimani; Pardo)