Original Date: 15th September 2011
Original Link: http://portugoal.net/index.php/more-europa-league-news/27347-insua-stars-as-sporting-win-in-zurich
Sporting got off to the ideal start in their first game of the Europa League group stages with an away victory over Switzerland’s FC Zurich. Lazio could surprisingly only draw at home to FC Vaslui which means Sporting top Group D after the first round of games.
Sporting began the game in the best possible fashion, after just 3 minutes a Stijn Schaars freekick floated to an unmarked Emiliano Insua, who cleverly turned in midair before heading to the goalkeeper’s opposite side for his first Sporting goal in just his second game. Zurich had only themselves to blame for it, as poor marking left the Argentine with plenty of room, though nothing can be taken away from Insua’s great finish.
The visiting side continued to press Zurich whenever the hosts had possession and when in possession Sporting looked to create down the left side through the impressive Insua and Diego Capel.
FC Zurich’s first chance came in the 16th minute. Ogucihi Onyewu passed the ball back to Rui Patricio who proceeded to pick it up. The Sporting players felt Onyewu had been fouled, which perhaps explains Patricio’s decision to pick up the ball.
The Portugal goalkeeper had given away a free kick in identical circumstances on Saturday against Pacos de Ferreira, a highly disputed decision that led to a goal. Free kicks inside the box are always tricky to defend and Sporting had to rely on luck to survive this one. Ricardo Rodriguez’s shot hit the outside of the post and Sporting survived a genuine moment of danger.
The Lions went back on to the attack and a Stijn Schaars free kick was well saved by Zurich goalkeeper, Johnny Leoni, who palmed it out to Diego Capel on the outside of the box. The Spaniard pulled the trigger and Leoni once again made an impressive save.
But Leoni could do nothing about the next Sporting chance. Once again Insua and Capel linked up on the left-hand side, and Insua found himself in lots of space to play a square pass for Ricky van Wolfswinkel to tap home. The Dutchman scored his second goal in two games after opening his Sporting account at the weekend.
Zurich failed to create much in the attacking third. The Swiss team tried to play long balls behind the defence to catch out the centre-back partnership of Onyewu and Rodriguez but the pair were capably dealing with the threat.
In the 26th minute a neat interchange outside the box fed Alexandre Alphonse, but his pass to the lively Yasine Chikhaoul was well cut out by the Sporting defence. Sporting went into the break after undoubtedly their most confident half so far this season.
In the second half Zurich stepped up their game, with Sporting taking their foot off the pedal and happy to sit on the 2-goal cushion. Zurich had their chances, the impressive Admir Mehmedi hitting the post in the 57th minute after weaving past Insua and Alberto Rodriguez.
That scare may well have been a deciding factor in Domingos Paciencia’s first substitution of the game, bringing on midfielder Andre Santos for the lively forward Andre Carrillo, which meant moving Bruno Pereirinha on to the right and Santos into the middle. Paciencia then brought on Diego Rubio for goal-scorer Ricky van Wolfswinkel, and the final change was a far more defensive one. Evaldo came on for the very impressive Diego Capel, with Insua moving into Capel’s former position.
On 76 minutes Ricardo Rodriguez, the man who hit the freekick onto the post in the first half, stepped up to take another one but this time the shot smashed the bar instead of the post with Patricio beaten. At the other end of the pitch Diego Rubio had a great chance to open his account with the club in a competitive match, after a typically battling Fabian Rinaudo found space for the Chilean forward but Rubio’s resulting shot went narrowly wide.
Zurich refused to lie down and gave Sporting some worrying moments in the closing stages. A goalmouth scramble could so easily have ended up in a Zurich goal and in the dying seconds of the game Alexandre Alphonse headed a free header over the bar from a corner.
In the end though a 2-0 win away from home in the Europa League is a very positive result and for the first time since the 24th January of this year Sporting have won two games on the bounce.