Paulo Bento has resigned as coach of UEFA Europa League contenders Sporting Clube de Portugal, with his assistant Leonel Pontes taking charge until further notice.
Although the Lisbon club lead Group D with ten points from four matches following Thursday's 1-1 home draw with FK Ventspils, the Lions have struggled to make an impression on the Liga title race. Bento's side, who were eliminated from the UEFA Champions League by ACF Fiorentina in the play-off round, are in seventh place after nine matches, 12 points adrift of leaders SC Braga. Previously a player and youth coach with Sporting, Bento took charge midway through the 2005/06 season when he replaced José Peseiro and won two Portuguese Cups.
A club statement read: "Paulo Bento resigned from his position as head coach because he felt the conditions were not right to continue at the helm of the team. Until further notice the team will be led by the assistant coach Leonel Pontes." Sporting need only a point against either visitors SC Heerenveen on 3 December or at FK Ventspils 13 days later to ensure a round of 32 berth.
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