Sporting took a trip to the Estadio do Bonfim to play Vitoria Setubal in what was Franky Vercauteren’s coaching debut, a struggling Sporting that failed to capitalise on opportunities, which ended in another loss. With the loss, Sporting drop to 13th place with 7 points, 13 points off leaders FC Porto and Benfica, 1 point from the relegation zone.
Aside from a few of the players, Vercauteren didn’t really change up the formation, Sporting started with a 4-3-3 with Izmailov pressing up the pitch to create somewhat of a 4-2-3-1. Insua at LB, Xandao and Rojo at CB, Cedric at RB, Rinaudo at CDM, with Schaars and Izmailov next to him, Ricky Van Wolfswinkel with the start at Striker again, flanked by Jeffren and surprisingly, Zakaria Labyad.
The first half as usual saw a stuttering Sporting fail to maintain any consistency in attack, Jeffren proved to be the only threat with a few solid shots that were saved by Vitoria keeper Pawel Kieszek. Vitoria Setubal’s Pedro Santos scored in the ’27 minute after a great ball threaded the Sporting defense. In the ’42 minute, Jeffren’s hard work finally payed off with a great finish from a Stijn Schaars pass, leveling the score at 1.
The second half saw Sporting take control of the game, pressure mounted on Vitoria Setubal who were pressed in their own half. A wicked shot by Insua stung the fingers of Kieszek, followed by a shot off a corner kick by Izmailov right down the middle of the goal.
In the ’68 minute, Sporting’s defense decided to take a nap, Cedric wasn’t watching his man, that’s when Meyong Ze ran right by everyone and struck a shot into the left hand corner of the net, Sporting stunned and looked defeated already.
Things started to look up for Sporting in the ’75 minute when Miguel Lourenço was given a straight red card after a horrible cleat to shin tackle on Ricky Van Wolfswinkel, Setubal down to 10 men. Subsequently, Vercauteren thought it a good idea to bring on the more attack minded Elias in place of Rinaudo and Valentin Viola on for the fairly ineffective Zakaria Labyad.
In the final 10 minutes Sporting pushed for an equalizer, Jeffren had another great opportunity to score in the ’82 minute, again a huge save by Setubal’s Kieszek. In the ’86 “B” team striker Bentinho was brought on in (in place of Izmailov) Vercauteren’s last role of the die. In the final minutes, Sporting seemed to be camping just outside Setubal’s 18 yard box, shot after shot being thwarted by Ney Santos who had an incredible game for Setubal at the back, followed by a horribly scuffed shot from Ricky which was his best opportunity of the night.
The game ended 2-1 for Vitoria Setubal, again, that’s 14 games (including Europa League matches) and only 2 wins. The nightmare continues for Sporting, Franky Vercauteren certainly has A LOT to do. I’d like to point out that with the loss, it’s clear that Sporting’s problems don’t necessarily lay with the coaching, in my opinion it’s more to do with the understanding on the pitch, these players just don’t seem to know how to play together, that shouldn’t be all on the coaching staff, as professionals they should be able to work this out themselves, unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case.
Sporting’s next match is a Europa League group stage match on Thursday November 8th 3:05pm EST vs Racing Genk at the Estadio Jose Alvalade, a win is vital for survival in this competition.