Club Atlético de Madrid failed to make numerical advantage count in their UEFA Europa League round of 16 encounter against nine-man Sporting Clube de Portugal as the first leg finished goalless.
Chances were few and far between at the Vicente Calderón but it is Sporting who will be the happier going into next Thursday's return at the Estádio José Alvalade. The visitors played for an hour a man light following Leandro Grimi's dismissal and Tonel also saw red late in the final minute.
Atlético have now failed to win at home in Europe in five attempts, and suffered an early blow when they lost defender Luis Perea to a knee injury. As the hosts reorganised at the back Sporting looked to take advantage. João Moutinho's probing free-kick was headed nervously back towards his own goal by Antonio López, who was grateful to see David de Gea collect. Then, shortly after Sergio Agüero spun a shot wide of Rui Patrício's upright, Liedson pounced on an Álvaro Domínguez error before poking a delightful shot past De Gea and against the crossbar.
The Leões' hopes of a maiden victory on Spanish soil all but vanished when Grimi was ordered off for a second bookable offence just after the half-hour, but despite their numerical advantage, Quique Sánchez Flores's side failed to muster more than a couple of hopeful efforts from the lively Agüero. Los Rojiblancos continued to look for an opening in the stubborn Sporting defence after the restart and Tomáš Ujfaluši went close when he headed Simão's free-kick narrowly wide.
Agüero continued to shine under the watchful eye of father-in-law Diego Maradona and with the local supporters roaring their team forward he slipped through Sporting's rearguard before lifting a shot up off Patrício and into the side-netting from a tight angle. It was as good as it got for the hosts.
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