NICK LEYDEN - Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Oguchi Onyewu's third goal of the season gave Sporting a tie in the first game of the Taça da Liga group stage.
For the second time this season Sporting were in danger of dropping points to Rio Ave in Vila do Conde only to be rescued by a late Gooch strike.
In September the former Clemson Tiger powered home a game winning header in a league matchup, and on Monday his 88th minute tally again saved the visitors from an even more disappointing result.
Despite the crucial league game against Porto which looms on Saturday, Domingos Paciencia opted to play a largely first-choice lineup against Rio Ave, who have struggled to only three wins in thirteen league games.
The hosts actually opened the scoring in the 16th minute when João Tomás nodded home a rebound which Marcelo had parried directly into his path following a free kick.
The Lions controlled the majority of the game, but were unable to even the score until Onyewu slotted home a João Pereira cross two minutes from time.
The Portugal international's pass slid just out of reach of the Rio Ave defense, as well as Ricky van Wolfswinkel, but Gooch had made an intelligent run to the back post where he calmy redirected the ball into the net with his left foot.
Sporting had actually controlled the majority of the game and missed several clear chances through van Wolfswinkel, Diego Capel and Elias, though Rio Ave also created a number of dangerous opportunities of their own with Yazalde proving the most wasteful.
The result leaves Sporting and their hosts level on one point, while Gil Vicente leads the group after having defeated Moreirense.