Everton 2 Sporting 1: Ten-man Toffees claim narrow Europa League victory

16 February 2010 08:34
Ten-man Everton claimed a narrow first-leg victory but have work stillto do if they are to secure a place in the last 16 of the Europa League.

They looked in control thanks to goals from Steven Pienaar and Sylvain Distinin either half against Sporting Lisbon.

However Distin was sent off with four minutes to go after flooring Liedson andMiguel Veloso converted the penalty kick to leave the tie finely balanced.

Heaven sent: Steven Pienaar celebrates Everton's opener

Everton manager David Moyes made two changes to his team for this Europa Leagueround-of-32 match at Goodison Park.

Joseph Yobo replaced John Heitinga, who is ineligible, while Steven Pienaar waspreferred to Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.

Moyeswas looking for his side to maintain their momentum in this first-leggame following the superb victory against Chelsea last week. Sportingwere aiming to return to winning ways after a dip in form and includedPedro Mendes, who was signed from Rangers last month.

Sporting were the first to show and skipper Joao Moutinho tried his luck from20 yards after five minutes but his effort failed to test goalkeeper TimHoward.

The visitors spread the play five minutes later and Miguel Veloso tried torelease Marat Izmailov, only for Phil Neville to sweep the ball back to Howard.Everton responded and almost took the lead in the 12th minute when Tim Cahillput Louis Saha through.

However, the 15-goal striker saw his shot blocked by RuiPatricio and the goalkeeper then smothered the rebound from Leon Osman.Everton stepped up the pace and Cahill headed wide four minutes later followinga corner from Leighton Baines. 

Breakthrough: Pienaar slides home Everton's first

Sporting launched a swift counter-attack in the 18th minute and Pienaar didwell to divert a shot from Matias Fernandez to safety.It was an open game and Saha made an unsuccessful appeal for a free-kick on theedge of the area after he appeared to be tripped by Daniel Carrico following athrough-ball from Pienaar.

Considering their domestic form has been poor, Sporting did not appear to belacking in confidence and Abel saw his ambitious effort go narrowly wide in the26th minute.Everton were finding it hard to get going and the fans were becomingfrustrated, especially after the victory over Chelsea in their last match.

However, they made the breakthrough in the 35th minute after Sporting were cutapart by an incisive move.Neville released Cahill and he back-heeled the ball into the path of Pienaar,who swept it home.

It was just the boost Everton were looking for, especially after twice beingbeaten by Sporting's neighbours Benfica in the group stages.Back came the visitors, though, and Izmailov showed good skill two minuteslater to cut inside and set up Mendes.

But Howard got down quickly to parry themidfielder's effort.Everton again found themselves on the back foot in the 40th minute whenIzmailov rattled in a shot that came back off the post.

Just a second: Tim Cahill rushes to congratulate Sylvain Distin

The home side hit back and a minute before half-time Saha headed over the barfollowing a free-kick from Baines.Everton needed only four minutes of the second half to extend their lead.Baines swung in a corner and Sporting goalkeeper Patricio came for the ball butfailed to collect.

TEAM LINE-UPS Everton: Howard, Neville, Yobo, Distin, Baines, Donovan,Arteta, Osman, Pienaar, Cahill, Saha. Subs: Nash, Bilyaletdinov,Vaughan, Gosling, Yakubu, Rodwell, Coleman.

Sporting: Rui Patricio, Abel, Tonel, Daniel Carrico, Grimi,Mendes, Veloso, Izmailov, Fernandez, Joao Moutinho, Liedson.Subs: Tiago, Anderson Polga, Adrien Silva, Carlos Saleiro,Vukcevic, Djalo, Bruno Pereirinha.

Referee: Darko Ceferin (Slovenia)

It broke to Sylvain Distin at the back post and spun off his leg, although hedid not appear to know too much about his effort.Sporting's goalkeeper complained but to no avail and his side now faced anuphill task.

Landon Donovan tried to chip Patricio in the 59th minute but the goalkeeper wasequal to it.Sporting were looking a bit disheartened but Veloso tried a shot from 25 yardstwo minutes later, only to see his effort go wide of the post.

Everton picked up the pace again and Saha headed over the top following afree-kick from Donovan.Donovan then saw a shot blocked as the home side tried to increase theiradvantage and put the tie out of Sporting's reach. Everton almost added a third goal in the 78th minute but Patricio did well toblock a close-range shot from substitute Ayegbeni Yakubu.

Then Saha forced a good stop from the goalkeeper four minutes later as Sportingagain found themselves on the back foot.

The game took a dramatic turn with four minutes remaining when Distin was sentoff after flooring Liedson in the penalty area.

Veloso stepped up and coolly converted the spot-kick for what could prove to bea vital away goal.

 Everton star Marouane Fellaini ruled out for six months after clash with Liverpool bruiser Sotirios KyrgiakosRooney was 'exploited' as teenager, claims PFA chief Taylor in court Aston Villa boss O'Neill throws weight behind Champions League play-offs  

Source: Daily_Mail