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Sporting have last 16 in their sights

Sporting Clube de Portugal welcome FC Shakhtar Donetsk to Lisbon knowing that a second win against their Ukrainian opponents could take them through to the UEFA Champions League knockout stage for the first time.

Sporting won a tight contest in Donetsk on Matchday 3
Sporting won a tight contest in Donetsk on Matchday 3 ©Getty Images

Sporting Clube de Portugal stand within a step of reaching the uncharted territory of the UEFA Champions League first knockout round as they prepare for the visit of FC Shakhtar Donetsk.

• The 1-0 victory that Sporting earned at the RSC Olympiyskiy Stadium on Matchday 3 leaves them with six points from three matches, three clear of Shakhtar, and knowing that a second win against the Ukrainian side will propel them into the last 16 provided Group C leaders FC Barcelona avoid an unlikely-looking defeat against bottom-placed FC Basel 1893.

• Shakhtar, by contrast, are drinking at the last-chance saloon. A second defeat by Sporting would put the Portuguese club out of their reach, and leave them hoping for a Basel victory in Barcelona given that any other outcome at the Camp Nou would confirm their elimination.

• Liedson was the hero of Sporting's success in Ukraine, scoring the only goal after 76 minutes. That made it two wins running for the Portuguese Liga side, who have not advanced from this stage of the UEFA Champions League in four previous attempts. They bounced back from an opening 3-1 defeat at Barcelona by beating Basel 2-0 in Lisbon and are now well positioned to progress.

• Beaten in successive home matches by Barcelona – a last-gasp 2-1 loss – and then Sporting, Shakhtar may draw some hope from the fact their one win so far in this section came in their previous away fixture, the 1-0 victory at Basel on Matchday 1.

• Another source of encouragement is the memory of their 1-0 success at another Lisbon club, SL Benfica, in last season's group stage.

• Jadson's goal that night earned Shakhtar their first away win in the UEFA Champions League, although a less happy portent is the fact their subsequent 2-1 home defeat by the same opponents on Matchday 6 signalled the end of their European ambitions for 2007/08. Like Sporting, their four previous group-stage participations have all ended in elimination.

• Overall, Shakhtar have won twice and lost once on their three previous visits to Portugal. They went down 3-2 at FC Porto in the 1983/84 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup quarter-finals en route to a 4-3 aggregate loss, but won by an identical score at Boavista FC in the first round of the 1997/98 edition of the same competition, eventually emerging 4-3 aggregate winners.

• Sporting can point to a 100 per cent winning record against Ukrainian opposition.

• Their first ever encounter with Ukrainian Premier League opposition came in last season's group stage where they recorded home-and-away wins against FC Dynamo Kyiv. The Lisbon club prevailed 2-1 in Kiev in October 2007, Tonel (14) and Anderson Polga (38) scoring either side of Vladyslav Vaschuk for the home team.

• Sporting went on to complete the double against Dynamo with a 3-0 success in the return fixture at the Estádio José Alvalade thanks to a Polga penalty (35), João Moutinho (67) and Liedson (88).

• Paulo Bento, the Sporting coach, played for Portugal against Ukraine in qualifying matches for the 1998 FIFA World Cup. After appearing as a substitute in Portugal's 2-1 reverse in Ukraine, he came off the bench again for his country's subsequent 1-0 home victory on 9 November 1996.

• Prior to facing Benfica last season, Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu had only come up against Portuguese opposition twice during his long career. His Romania side lost 1-0 against Portugal at the 1984 UEFA European Championship finals – a defeat that was partially avenged by a 3-2 friendly win in January 1985.

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