FC Spartak Moskva were made to pay for a succession of missed chances as Nani's second-half equaliser allowed Sporting Clube de Portugal to claim a 1-1 draw in UEFA Champions League Group B in Moscow.
It was the first time a match in the competition had been played on a synthetic pitch, but Sporting appeared unaffected by the surface as Nani struck 14 minutes into the second half just as Spartak looked set to run away with the game. Denis Boyarintsev's early goal had got the Russian side off to a superb start but they were unable to build on that as Sporting hit back to add a further point to the three they had earned in their Matchday 1 victory against FC Internazionale Milano.
Spartak coach Vladimir Fedetov had opted, against expectations, to begin with just Roman Pavlyuchenko up front, but any fears his team would approach the tie defensively were dispelled within five minutes as the Russian hosts secured an early advantage. Boyarintsev, himself a surprise inclusion in place of Clemente Rodríguez, pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the area and cracked a fierce first-time shot high beyond Ricardo in the Sporting goal.
Confidence duly restored following their 4-0 Matchday 1 defeat at FC Bayern München, Spartak sought to press home their superiority and first Radoslav Kováč then Martin Stranzl came close with headers in the ensuing minutes. Sporting were struggling to gain a foothold and it was not until the 18th minute that they got sight of goal, Nani firing a free-kick from long range that Wojciech Kowalewski tipped over.
Vladimir Bystrov's pace was troubling the Sporting back line while Yegor Titov's short, sharp passing kept Spartak flowing through midfield. As Sporting managed to see more of the ball towards the end of the half, Spartak almost struck again. On the break Brystrov produced a crossfield pass over the Sporting defence to find the onrushing Boyarintsev who took the ball in his stride but saw his low drive well saved by Ricardo as the goalkeeper came out quickly to narrow the angle.
Spartak were back on the offensive immediately after the interval. Titov picked out Pavlyuchenko, whose powerful header just missed the target, then released Bystrov down the right. He shrugged off his marker and cut the ball back for Pavlyuchenko for a shot that was brilliantly touched over by Ricardo. The visitors were gradually being forced to defend deeper and it was against the run of play that they drew level a minute before the hour. Nani started and finished the move, playing a one-two with Liedson as he surged into the area before rounding Kowalewski and chipping in from a tight angle.
The goal silenced an expectant crowd that had been so delighted to see their side back in the competition after a four-year absence. Fedotov brought on Quincy Owusu-Abeyie to try and turn the momentum back in Spartak's favour, but despite some late pressure the home team were forced to settle for a point.