Sporting Clube de Portugal clinched top spot in UEFA Europa League Group D with a 2-0 win against FC Zürich, extinguishing the Swiss side's hopes of qualification in the process.
An excellent finish from Ricky van Wolfswinkel gave Sporting an early lead before Valeri Bozhinov's 58th-minute header ensured Domingos Paciência's side opened up an unassailable lead at the top of the section.
Despite the mounting injury problems that forced defender Daniel Carriço into an unfamiliar central midfield role, Sporting quickly found their rhythm. It took a pair of remarkable saves from Johnny Leoni to prevent the home side taking a 14th-minute lead. The Zürich goalkeeper denied Bozhinov from close range, before palming Carriço's shot round a post.
Moments later, Leoni was helpless as Sporting took the lead. Silvan Aegerter gifted possession to Stijn Schaars and the Dutchman took full advantage, chipping the ball to Van Wolfswinkel, who controlled instantly with his right foot and fired inside the near post with his left.
Bozhinov missed a good chance to extend the lead on 33 minutes, firing wide from a promising position as Sporting eased into the break with their advantage intact. Although Urs Fischer's side improved after the break, the second half followed a similar pattern. Dušan Djurić cleared Oguchi Onyewu's 52nd-minute header off the line before the hosts doubled their lead. Diego Capel the provider for Bozhinov to rise above Ludovic Magnin and power a header into the top left-hand corner.
Leoni made another save with his feet from a fiercely struck Andre Santos effort and Van Wolfswinkel was perilously close to grabbing his second in the closing stages as Sporting made it four wins out of five in Group D. Sporting conclude at S.S. Lazio on 14 December when Zürich host FC Vaslui.
©UEFA.com 1998-2016. All rights reserved.