Substitute Derlei scored four minutes after his introduction to secure victory for Sporting Clube de Portugal against FC Shakhtar Donetsk and take the Portuguese side into the UEFA Champions League knockout stages for the first time.
The Brazilian, who lifted the trophy with FC Porto in 2004, broke the deadlock 17 minutes from time in Lisbon to earn the hosts a second successive 1-0 win against the Ukrainian champions, a result that – coupled with FC Barcelona's 1-1 draw against FC Basel 1893 – secures a top-two finish in Group C with two matches to spare. Sporting now trail Barça by a single point and welcome the Spanish side on Matchday 5, when Shakhtar take on Basel needing a win to clinch a UEFA Cup place.
Home coach Paulo Bento recalled Hélder Postiga to partner Liedson as he sought to add some punch to an attack that has been short of goals of late, and the former FC Porto striker was in the thick of the early action as Sporting started briskly. First Postiga found space at the back post and narrowly failed to connect with João Moutinho's curling free-kick, before being denied by Olexandr Kucher's last-ditch tackle as he prepared to shoot having dispossessed Fernandinho. Shakhtar nevertheless gave the home team a scare of their own when the unmarked Brandão lifted Tomáš Hübschman's cross over the bar, a sign the Brazilian was beginning to make his considerable presence felt. Marco Caneira's decisive clearance was then required after Brandão's right-wing cross caused panic in the Sporting defence.
The game began to settle into a pattern as the visitors attempted to force the pace, allowing Sporting to sit back and wait for opportunities to use their neat football on the counterattack. Yet the home team, as so often recently, struggled to carve out clear openings and again came close to going behind when Marcelo Moreno's well-struck shot was deflected away for a corner. On the stroke of half-time it was Shakhtar's turn to escape as goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov smothered Liedson's effort, although the rebound fell kindly for Marat Izmailov for an effort that struck a defender and flew into the side-netting.
Perhaps sensing their cautious approach was fraught with risk, Sporting began the second half more purposefully, winning a string of corners. From one Liedson narrowly failed to direct a close-range shot on target at full stretch and as the game became stretched the atmosphere rose considerably. The vast majority of the crowd were almost celebrating when Grimi and Postiga both came close to converting another Miguel Veloso free-kick, before Liedson met Abel's cross with an effort that beat Pyatov only for the post to come to the goalkeeper's rescue.
Bento withdrew Postiga in favour of Derlei in the 69th minute and four minutes later came the moment that sparked wild celebrations amid the ecstatic home support. Izmailov beat Dmytro Chygrynskiy with a sublime piece of skill that created space inside a packed penalty area, and Derlei found time to control the Russian's square pass before expertly dispatching the ball into the bottom corner to seal Sporting's progress.