Sporting Lisbon 3 Everton 0: Howard's best can't repel the Portuguese siege

26 February 2010 01:16
Another chastening night in Lisbon saw Everton crash out of theEuropa League, victims of their own failure to keep a clean sheet athome and prevent Sporting from celebrating a deserved victory in theEstadio Jose Alvalade.

Thrashed 5-0 in the Portuguese capital by Benfica just four months ago,David Moyes and his players will be glad to see the back of the placeafter second-half goals from Miguel Veloso, Pedro Mendes and MatiasFernandez put their opponents safely through to the last 16 and ameeting with Atletico Madrid.

Good Sport: Miguel Veloso (left) celebrates after scoring

They can have no complaints.

It was Veloso's late penalty in Sporting's 2-1 defeat at Goodison Park last week that transformed what should have been a relatively straightforward second leg into a very different encounter last night, and Everton were quite simply not up to the challenge. They allowed their opponents far too much space and possession from the start, perhaps underestimating their ability to make it count.

Sporting may have slipped from the heady days of 2007 when they faced Manchester United in the group stage of the Champions League but this, after all, is a club that has now won on all seven occasions they have come up against English opposition in knockout competition.

So close: But Everton's Louis Saha can't find a way past Sporting's goalkeeper Rui Patricio

'We never got started,' said a disconsolate Moyes. 'Sporting were the better team and deserve to go through. There was a weight of pressure throughout and we never had enough of the ball.

'I didn't see it coming. We felt confident over two legs but maybe we made mistakes in the first leg. We didn't get to the levels we have in recent weeks.'

It may have been a very different Everton side that arrived in Portugal this time following the Benfica debacle. One high on confidence after successive Premier League wins over Chelsea and United, and able to call on key players like Phil Neville, Mikel Arteta and Louis Saha, who led the line after learning he had been called up to the France squad for the first time since 2006 earlier in the day. But the result was very much the same.

Breakthrough: Sporting's Miguel Veloso scores the opening goal

Marat Izmailov delivered a warning shot as early as the fourth minute,a low drive from a tight angle that Tim Howard palmed away into hissix-yard box and Leighton Baines cleared to safety.

MATCH FACTSSporting Lisbon (4-4-2): Rui Patricio 6; Abel 6, Tonel 5, Daniel Carrico 6, Grimi 5 (Carlos Saleiro 62min, 6); Izmailov 7 (Fernandez 90), Joao Moutinho 8, Mendes 7, Veloso 7; Djalo 6, Liedson 7 (Polga 90). Booked: Abel.Everton (4-5-1): Howard 6; Neville 6, Yobo 5, Senderos 5 (Jagielka 52min, 6), Baines 6; Bilyaletdinov 4 (Rodwell 61, 6), Arteta 6, Osman 5, Pienaar 6, Donovan 6 (Yakubu 73, 6); Saha 6.Booked: Pienaar.Man of the match: Joao Moutinho.Referee: Alon Yefet (Israel).

It seemed to go unheeded as Sporting went even closer after a quarterof an hour. Philippe Senderos was penalised for fouling Yannick Djaloon the edge of the area and Joao Moutinho, a transfer target for Moyesnot so long ago, saw his right-foot freekick come back off the bar andrebound to Tonel who could not take advantage as Howard picked himselfup off the floor, firing wide.

Everton just could not get a foothold in the game with Izmailov andMendes, the former Tottenham and Portsmouth midfielder, particularlyinfluential, and Moutinho making life as hard as possible for LeonOsman to man mark him in midfield.

Senderos did manage to put the ball in the net with Everton's firstsight of goal two minutes from the end of an alarmingly one-sided firsthalf, but the Frenchman was well offside when he met Baines'sinswigning freekick with a scuffed effort that bounced over RuiPatricio and it was promptly ruled out.

Senderos jarred his knee blocking a shot from Moutinho shortly afterthe restart, paving the way for Phil Jagielka to make his comebackafter 10 months out with a cruciate knee ligament injury, but he willnot remember it with any fondness whatsoever as Sporting grabbed acrucial goal in the 64th minute.

Hard to watch: Sporting's Joao Moutinho controls the ball in front of Everton's coach David Moyes

Howard had already produced two fine saves to turn Moutinho'sclose-range volley around the post and tip over Abel's long-rangeeffort, but he could not stop Veloso when a ball behind the Evertondefence sprang the offside trap and enable the midfielder to fire homefrom a tight angle despite Phil Neville's last-ditch challenge.

Howard was beaten again after 76 minutes and again it came after he hadproduce a good save to keep his team in the game, palming awayLeidson's drive.

Everton failed to clear the danger and the ball fell for Mendes whoseshot through a crowd of players from 20 yards took a slight deflectionoff Jack Rodwell and past his keeper.

An Everton goal would still have taken the tie to extra-time, andMoyes's side finally went on the offensive. But it was Neville'sblocked effort that Sporting broke away for their third goal, Djalofeeding Fernandez who prodded the ball past Howard and tucked it intothe empty net with the last kick of the game.

 Sporting Lisbon v Everton: As it happenedAmerican idol: Everton fans lead Facebook campaign to keep DonovanKing Louis of France! In-form Everton hitman ends four-year international exileEVERTON FC

Source: Daily_Mail