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Rabia starts, Sporting draw 1-1 in Taça da Liga
A win for Sporting this evening would have seen them progress to the semi-final stage of the Taça da Liga, but they were left ruing missed chances as ten-man Vitória de Setúbal got a hard-earned point at the Alvalade.
Sporting, who fielded a second-string side, were gifted the opener after Setúbal captain Ney Santos turned a Tanaka cross into his own net after 13 minutes.
It looked like Sporting would go on to extend their lead, as chances for Tanaka, Miguel Lopes and Sarr indicated that a second goal for the home side was imminent. But when Jucie Lupeta saw red for a rash challenge on Wallyson just before half-time, it forced Setúbal to defend in greater numbers, thus frustrating a Sporting side lacking any of their more clinical attackers. 1-0 is how it ended at the interval.
Seven minutes into the second half, and against the run of play, three of Setúbal’s defenders teamed up to create, assist and score the equaliser; right-back Advíncula sent his free-kick into the box with pace, where it was headed across goal by François for his fellow central-defender Miguel Lourenço to tap in from close range to give the visiting team an unlikely goal under the circumstances.
Sporting continued to press for a winner, with the best chance of the second half falling to Esgaio, who seen an effort crash off the post on the hour mark following a neat lay-off by André Martins.
Setúbal’s defence stood strong for the remainder of the game, though, despite the numerical disadvantage, and the constant barrage of shots by the home side, one of which fell to Rami Rabia, but the Egyptian’s header flew just wide in injury-time.
The game ended all square, and with this result, Sporting’s progression to the semi-finals now depends on the outcome of the group’s final games, which will be played next week. Sporting have already played their four games, therefore wins for either Vitória Setúbal (vs Boavista) or Belenenses (vs Vitória de Guimarães) next Wednesday will see them crash out of the competition by one point.
Sporting’s next game will be this Sunday away at Arouca in the Primeira Liga, where they will look to extend their five-game winning streak in the Liga.