NICK LEYDEN - Monday, December 12, 2011
Oguchi Onyewu's second goal of the season clinched three points for Sporting againt Nacional, while Tony Taylor and Caleb Patterson-Sewell remained in first place after Atlético's tie with Penafiel.
Sporting CP 1-0 CD Nacional
A 22nd minute header by Onyewu proved to be the only goal in a tense affair at the Estádio José Alvalade, keeping Sporting within striking distance of the league leaders.
The hosts pressured Nacional from the start and could have opened the scoring in the 17th minute, but Marcelo was able to parry Ricky van Wolfswinkel's header.
The Sporting faithful were not made to wait too long for the breakthrough, though.
In the 22nd minute André Martins sent in a free kick from the left wing that Emiliano Insúa flicked towards the back post. Marcelo challenged for the ball but an unmarked Gooch, who has already become a fan favorite, simply rose too high for the Nacional ‘keeper and nodded the ball home.
The hosts continued to create chances throughout the half, including another Onyewu attempt off a 28th minute corner and a 42nd minute strike by van Wolfswinkel that was called back for offsides, but Nacional managed to enter the break down by just the single goal.
The second half was not as crisp as the first, though both teams had multiple opportunities to change the score line.
Van Wolfswinkel remained dangerous for Sporting as Martins and Spanish winger Diego Capel continued to create chances, while Mario Rondón did everything but equalize for the visitors.
The Venezuelan striker shot just wide in the 57th minute, was dubiously ruled offsides in the 74th and was denied by an outstanding Rui Patricio save in the 76th.
Nacional's fate was effectively sealed in the 77th minute when Danijel Stojanovic was ejected for his second yellow card, the seventh overall in the match.
The victory was Sporting's eighth in their last nine league games, and keeps them in third place, four points behind dual leaders Porto and Benfica.
The Lions next game will be a Europa League matchup against Lazio on Wednesday, though Domingos Pacience may opt to rest many regulars since Sporting has already clinched first place in the group.
Atlético CP 1-1 FC Penafiel
For the first time this season Atlético has gone two consecutive games without a win following a 1-1 tie with Penafiel.
The Lisbon club remains in first place in the Liga Orangina, though their lead has been cut to just a single point over Moreirense and just two points over Tony Taylor's previous team, Estoril.
The hosts opened the scoring in 26th minute on a header by Tiago Caiero, who is now tied for the league lead with six goals.
But Penafiel equalized in the 42nd minute though Senegalese forward Baptiste Faye after Caleb Patterson-Sewell's defense failed to effectively clear a Luis Carlos cross.
The second half in the Estádio José Gomes did not produce much in the way of scoring chances, though if anything it was Penafiel who enjoyed the better of play.
For Patterson-Sewell it marked the first time of the season that he has conceded a goal in consecutive games.
Taylor was re-inserted in the starting lineup after missing out in last week's defeat to Moreirense and put in an 80 minute shift before being replaced by Saramogo.
Atlético will hope to return to winning ways in their next game when they visit Aves on 12/18.