A late free-kick from Matías Fernández eased Sporting Clube de Portugal's nerves as the Lions completed a 3-2 aggregate victory over Legia Warszawa in the UEFA Europa League round of 32.
A week after the teams played out an entertaining 2-2 draw – in which Sporting twice came from behind – the second leg seemed destined to end goalless until Fernández delivered a ball which evaded everybody on its way past Dušan Kuciak. The 2005 runners-up's reward is a last-16 tie against Manchester City FC, who accounted for Sporting's domestic rivals, FC Porto, on Wednesday.
In a first half where openings were scarce, Legia's Danijel Ljuboja, having muscled between Alberto Rodríguez and Anderson Polga, headed the best one wide following a punt downfield. A few minutes earlier, Kuciak was fortunate his failure to gather another Fernández set piece amounted to nothing more than Emiliano Insúa lashing the loose ball across goal.
Sporting, holding the away-goals advantage, were content to bide their time, with Legia equally so, even if three blanks in their previous four matches hardly augured well for the noisy cohort of visiting supporters housed in one corner of the Estádio José Alvalade.
In the lively Andre Carrillo, the Lions had a player who looked capable of breaking the stalemate, however, and from one of the Sporting forward's early second-half advances only the covering Michał Żewłakow cleared the danger as Stijn Schaars shaped to shoot.
With Oguchi Onyewu injured, Sporting coach Ricardo Sá Pinto will have winced when Rodríguez, another centre-back, was carried off and replaced by Xandão, on his 24th birthday, 19 minutes from time. Fernández's 84th-minute strike gave him something to smile about, even if Rafał Wolski would have levelled on the night had it not been for the legs of Rui Patrício.
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