Sporting Clube de Portugal have their work cut out to reach the UEFA Europa League round of 32 after Glynor Plet's late goal sealed a draw for leaders KRC Genk.
Sporting's opening three games had yielded a solitary point, but despite losing midfielder Stijn Schaars to a red card just before the hour, the Lions' fortunes appeared set to change. Ricky van Wolfswinkel struck shortly afterwards and his goal increasingly looked sufficient to separate the teams, until Plet's added-time header levelled the scores.
Neither side were capable of imposing their football in a competitive first half, but it was Sporting who had the greater urgency – and an unusually attacking formation proved their intent. Nonetheless, Genk were able to control the match and nullify the Sporting threat.
The Belgian outfit passed up two good chances to go into the break ahead, as the menacing Thomas Buffel tormented the hosts. However, he put too much on a lob over Rui Patrício, who then saved from the forward after he had worked his way into the box. As for Sporting, the lively Diego Capel proved their primary threat, though his numerous crosses rarely found a target.
The home side improved after the interval, but a second yellow card for Schaars in the 59th minute threatened to undo their attacking endeavours. Patrício saved smartly from Steven Joseph-Monrose and, stung into action, Sporting responded with a goal. Capel crossed from the right and this time picked out an unmarked Van Wolfswinkel, who headed his team into a 64th-minute lead.
Patrício then made impressive saves from Anele Ngongca, Jelle Vossen and Plet as Genk hunted the equaliser, but Plet had the last word, outjumping Patrício and nodding in to earn Genk a share of the spoils. With their hopes now hanging by a thread, Sporting next travel to FC Basel 1893 on 22 November, when Genk will visit Videoton FC with qualification in mind.
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