UEFA Champions League
Estádio José Alvalade, Lisboa, Portugal
64′ Pereira Sent off
80′ Silva (P)
Champions Real Madrid progressed into the last-16 of the Champions League after defeating ten-men Sporting Clube de Portugal 2-1 at the Estádio José Alvalade in Lisboa to knock the Portuguese side out of the competition.
Raphaël Varane put the Champions in front in the first-half before João Pereira saw red for a deft punch on Mateo Kovačić in the 64th minute. Sporting skipper Adrien Silva then scored a surprise leveller for the side with ten-men from the penalty-spot after a handball by substitute and former Benfica full-back Fábio Coentrão before substitute Karim Benzema headed home the winner four minutes from the ninety.
Los Blancos started well and had a good chance in the 11th minute when Marcelo sent in a teasing delivery that was met by Ronaldo, who headed harmlessly wide with a diving-header although he was flagged for offside.
Most of the attention prior to the match was on Cristiano Ronaldo, who was returning to his former side, looking to become the first player to score 100 goals in the Champions League. However there was another man to put Real Madrid ahead. In the 28th minute the visitors went ahead when a freekick from Luka Modrić wasn’t dealt with by the hosts; allowing Ronaldo’s mis-hit strike to fall into the path of the onside Varane, who slotted home past Rui Patrício.
Three minutes later the hosts almost made the perfect response when Gelson Martins pulled the ball back to Bruno César after Silva’s dummy, allowing the former Benfica winger to fire an effort at goal but Sergio Ramos terrifically blocked his strike inches wide with a header.
Five minutes before the break the hosts went close when César curled a freekick just wide of the far-post with Keylor Navas well-beaten.
Two minutes later the hosts were given a great chance when Sergio Ramos was caught in-possession and Bas Dost seized upon the loose-ball and found Silva, who forced Navas into a fine save but the flag was already up for offside.
In the 64th minute matters got worse for the already-trailing Sporting side when Pereira received a straight red card for punching Kovačić, who looked to have started the altercation by not releasing the ball to his opponents.
The visitors nearly took immediate advantage three minutes later but Ronaldo’s through-ball to substitute Marco Asensio was just overhit.
In the 79th minute the hosts were given a lifeline when the referee pointed to the spot after substitute Coentrão was penalised for a handball, although the full-back was appealing for a handball against substitute Joel Campbell himself. Silva stepped-up to drill the penalty home, sending Navas the wrong way.
The goal had given Sporting life and two minutes later they had a good chance to go in front when Campbell surged forward; cutting-inside before firing a tame effort that compatriot Navas saved comfortably.
Two minutes later the visitors had a great chance when a Modrić corner fell to Lucas Vázquez at the back-post but he sliced his volley wide when he should have at least hit the target.
A minute later the hosts had a good chance when Martins beat Varane to send in a teasing delivery that Campbell headed wide under-pressure.
It was a golden opportunity for the Leões, who were made to rue that miss a minute later when a fine cross from Ramos picked-out substitute Benzema, who headed powerfully home past Patrício.
The result meant that Sporting will not progress further in the competition, they remain third on three points whilst Real Madrid remain second on 11 points, two behind leaders Borussia Dortmund on 13 points, who put eight past fourth-placed Legia Warszawa. Sporting face the Polish side in the final match: a decider to confirm who will drop into the Europa League. Real Madrid face Dortmund at home, in a match which will decide who tops the Group.