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Sporting Clube de Portugal coach Paulo Bento has called on his side to bow out in style in their final UEFA Champions League game of the season against FC Dynamo Kyiv.
'Do our best'
There is little at stake at the Estádio José Alvalade in Lisbon given Sporting cannot finish higher than third in Group F and Dynamo are rooted to the bottom, but Paulo Bento insists his team have plenty to play for. "This is a prestigious competition and we want to leave it with a win," said the coach, whose charges will compete in the UEFA Cup from February. "We want to collect as many points as we can and to score for the fifth match in a row [in the tournament] while also keeping our first clean sheet. We will do our best to improve a little bit the quality of our play. If we play better we will be closer to winning."
Sporting were unfortunate to lose on their last UEFA Champions League outing, going down to old boy Cristiano Ronaldo's late strike away to Manchester United FC. They are well off the pace in the Portuguese Liga, having not won a league match since the start of November, yet a comprehensive 4-0 victory over second-division Louletano DC in the fourth round of the Portuguese Cup on Saturday has raised morale among the players. Right-back Abel hopes it will also serve to change the mood of supporters who have turned on the side during their poor recent run. "As professionals we're ready to deal with these situations but I can guarantee the protests do not help the players," he said. "I hope the fans have a different attitude against Dynamo and support the team during the game."
Paulo Bento has recalled striker Liedson after he was dropped against Louletano following an altercation with the coach, but Yannick Djaló, Pedro Silva and Derlei all miss out through injury. Sporting's only win in the section so far came away to Dynamo on Matchday 2. The Ukrainian champions, who are still to pick up a point, have changed coach since and caretaker manager Oleh Luzhny is eager to finish on a high note before making way for Yuri Semin in January.
"We will fight for a good result," said Luzhny, whose team can take heart from a sequence of three straight victories in their Premier League. "Even if we lose, we will try to give a good impression. I am in charge at the moment and I will do my best. Everyone knows things are not going well for Dynamo Kyiv, but a match in the Champions League is all about prestige and whatever our position in the group, we will try to make a good impression in our last game. No matter what lineup I select, the team will play to win."
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