Sporting Clube de Portugal are through with the maximum three matches to spare UEFA Europa League Group D after stretching their lead to seven points with a routine victory against ten-man FC Vaslui.
Sporting were unbeaten in six European games prior to kick-off and once Wesley was dismissed on 38 minutes that run never looked like coming to an end. Evaldo opened the scoring shortly after the Vaslui captain saw red, with Matías Fernández putting the seal on the Lions' third successive section win 20 minutes from time. As all the other games in the group have been draws, Sporting cannot finish lower than second and are in the round of 32 draw in 16 December.
There were few clear-cut opportunities in the first period, as half-chances came and went for Stijn Schaars and Fernández before Ricky van Wolfswinkel sent wide a near-post volley from Evaldo's centre.
Wesley's red card for an altercation with João Pereira proved pivotal, and an already tough task soon became an uphill climb for the Romanian outfit when Sporting made the breakthrough five minutes later. Gifted possession inside the Vaslui area, Fernández jinked to the byline and his squared pass was stabbed in at the back post by the unmarked Evaldo.
As expected, the hosts controlled the second half. Vaslui goalkeeper Vytautas Černiauskas was forced into a string of saves in the ten minutes following the restart, smartly beating away Diego Capel's angled drive, a Fernández free-kick and holding onto an awkward effort from Schaars.
Viorel Hizo's men sought a route back into the game but in doing so left themselves exposed, and Sporting's stylish second came on 69 minutes. Capel found the wonderful run of Andre Carrillo, who swept the ball into the path of Fernández to finish with aplomb.
Černiauskas's palms were stung again by André Martins and a swerving Schaars effort from distance rattled the upright, but 2-0 it remained and Sporting can already plan for their first knockout game in February.
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