Sporting Lisbon 2 Everton 0; agg 3-2: match report

25 February 2010 10:10
The Portuguese are a compassionate bunch. Their bullfights, for example, finish when the wounded beast is led away to be put out of its misery in private.

Yet there was nothing humane about the way Everton were put to the sword by Sporting Lisbon on Thursday night, and as a result knocked out of the Europa League.

 Related ArticlesEuropa League tablesEuropa League fixturesSport on televisionPhil Jagielka in line for shock recallSteven Pienaar charged with drink drivingEverton 'can keep Rodwell'David Moyes will seek some solace from the return of Phil Jagielka after ten months out with cruciate knee ligament damage but, this being Everton, though, the centre-back's return coincided with yet another injury.

This time it was Philippe Senderos who gingerly limped off having picked up a knock to his ankle. And besides, Moyes will be furious. He will know his side should have been better.

True, Everton were not helped by the visa difficulties experienced by the Nigerian pair Joseph Yobo and Yakubu, who were held up in Amsterdam until the early hours of Thursday morning, but Sporting have their own concerns, as the abysmal turnout for this game signified.

Coming into this match the Portuguese side had not won in seven, and word on the street was of a recent spat, in the team showers of all places, between a player and one of the management staff.

Everton's first task, given the slim advantage gained from the first leg, was to capitalise on their opponents' crisis of confidence, and their own surge of self-belief after the weekend victory over Manchester United.

Instead, they started as sluggishly as an old Skoda. Marat Izmailov's shot in the 5th minute was only narrowly pushed away by Tim Howard, and the American goalkeeper was fortunate that Joao Moutinho's free-kick ten minutes later struck the crossbar, and even more so when Liedson inexplicably put the rebound wide after Philippe Senderos had conceded a free-kick on the edge of the area.

It was from the more unlikely pairing of Leighton Baines and Senderos that Everton nearly took the lead, Baines sending a free-kick high into the box, Senderos stepping in behind the Sporting back four to tap the ball, clumsily, past Rui Patricio. Alas, the referee decided he was offside.

It would be their only realistic opportunity. Instead it was Sporting who provided the killer blow, when Carlos Saleiro threaded the ball to Veloso.

With both centre-backs playing him on side the midfielder slid the ball past Howard.

Sporting had their second when Mendes' shot, from outside the area, took a deflection of the bottom of Jack Rodwell's boot, bamboozling Howard and settling in the far corner.

Needing a goal to force extra time, Everton became increasingly desperate, Steven Pienaar picking up a booking for lashing out.

The South African, up before the beak on drink driving charges next month, looked as frustrated as a boy-racer at the wheel of a Lamborghini bogged down in a traffic jam.

If Sporting's first was straight-forward, their second simply lucky, their third was cruel. Matias Fernandez, on for only a minute, beat Baines in the box with some sumptuous trickery and rounded Howard with ease.

Last-16 draw

Juventus v FulhamAtlético Madrid v Sporting LisbonValencia v W BremenHamburg v AnderlechtBenfica v MarseilleLille v LiverpoolPanathinaikos v Standard LiegeRubin Kazan v WolfsburgTwo-leg ties to be played March 11 & 18

Source: Telegraph

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