However, a comfortable looking position was given a less encouraging sheen with four minutes remaining when Miguel Veloso converted a penalty, awarded after Distin had floored Liedson in the round of 32 first leg match, the defender sent off in the process.
Related ArticlesEverton 2 Sporting Lisbon 1Marouane Fellaini out for rest of seasonEuropa League tablesEuropa League fixturesMoyes: Sporting clash 'cannot be typical British game'Moyes: play-off for fourth Champions League spot flawedFellaini will again be looking on from the sidelines a week on Thursday during the return match in Portugal after being hurt in the recent Merseyside derby following a crunching tackle with Liverpool's Sotirios Kyrgiakos.
Moyes said: 'Fellaini is not good. He has an injury similar to Robin van Persie and that could keep out for six months. We will not be sure until the operation takes place.
'He has played really well this season and been part of the reason behind our improvement. He has been a big miss to us already.'
Moyes could not hide his disappointment at the way they let Sporting back into the tie.
Pienaar made the breakthrough in the 35th minute after being set up by Tim Cahill, who came off with a calf injury, before Distin extended Everton's lead shortly after the break after goalkeeper Rui Patricio flapped at Leighton Baines' corner.
'The perspective of the game changed,' said Moyes. 'I thought we were more liable to win 3-0 than 2-1. We looked as though we were trying to conserve our energy rather than going for another goal.
'Sylvain had a difficult pass to deal with but we should never have put ourselves in that position. We should have been looking to get forward.
'We did enough to be 2-0 in front and I did not see a goal coming. But it was not to be. It keeps the game alive. That's football.
'We are disappointed we have not seen the job through, which we should have done. We gave Sporting an opportunity when it looked as though they might not have one.'