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Toffees suffer late setback
16 Feb 2010 - 19:40:21
Everton conceded a potentially crucial late goal as they won 2-1 at home to Sporting Lisbon in the first leg of their Europa League Round of 32 tie at Goodison Park.
The Toffees made a bright start in front of their own fans and they looked like taking the lead with 11 minutes played as Tim Cahill's header released Louis Saha, but Sporting keeper Rui Patricio made a fine initial block, before reacting quickly to parry Leon Osman's follow-up.
With just over 25 minutes played Abel threatened with a long-range effort for the visitors which drifted just wide, but ten minutes later it was the home side who made the breakthrough.
Phil Neville fed the ball through to Cahill in the right channel and his astute back-heel set up Steven Pienaar for a fine left-foot finish from 15 yards out, with keeper Patricio stranded.
Soon after, Tim Howard was forced to make a smart, low save from Pedro Mendes' drive, following good work down the right by Marat Izmailov.
Howard then got a finger-tip to a stinging Izmailov effort to deflect it on to a post, as a lively first half drew to a close.
Everton made it 2-0 early in the second half as Patricio missed a Leighton Baines corner from the left under pressure from Cahill and the ball cannoned off the knees of Sylvain Distin and into the back of the unguarded net.
The visitors were clearly knocked back by Distin's goal and the home side continued to dominate, while struggling to carve out further clear chances.
Thirteen minutes from time sub Yakubu went close to a third goal, but after turning away from a couple of defenders, his low effort was parried away well by Patricio.
However, there was to be a late sting in the tail, as Distin was penalised for a trip on Liedson and shown a straight red card as he was the last defender.
Miguel Veloso confidently sent Howard the wrong way from the resulting spot-kick to leave the tie evenly poised going into the second leg in Portugal next week.