Last-gasp Zahovič earns Maribor a Sporting draw

NK Maribor 1-1 Sporting Clube de Portugal
The 18-year-old Luka Zahovič capitalised on a defensive error to cancel out Nani's strike and earn Maribor a hard-earned point.

Last-gasp Zahovič earns Maribor a Sporting draw
Last-gasp Zahovič earns Maribor a Sporting draw ©

Substitute Luka Zahovič scores a last-gasp equaliser for Maribor
Nani breaks Maribor's resolve ten minutes from time with a fine strike
Maribor goalkeeper Jasmin Handanovič's stellar effort is rewarded
André Carrillo and Aleksander Rajčevič both hit the woodwork in the first half
Next games: Schalke v Maribor, Sporting v Chelsea (30 September)

Precocious Luka Zahovič capitalised on a late, late defensive error to earn NK Maribor a share of the Group G spoils and deny Sporting Clube de Portugal the UEFA Champions League victory Nani's effort minutes earlier looked to have secured.

The visitors had needed a few minutes to establish territorial advantage, but it was Maribor who threatened first when Agim Ibraimi received a long ball and provided Rui Patrício with a real test. The latter's opposite number Jasmin Handanovič was somehow able to turn away a curling Jefferson free-kick from an acute angle while Nani too lurked, switching wings to good effect.

Handanovič was equal to it all, though, and when André Carillo sprinted into the box to go one on one with the keeper he was denied by a miracle save; Carillo hit the bar from the rebound. Maribor were never completely overwhelmed, though, and ended the half well. Tavares and Ibraimi went close, Aleksander Rajčevič closer still with a header that rattled the upright.

Sporting were soon back in the ascendancy as the second period got under way. Handanovič came to the rescue from Islam Slimani's diving header, then Nani's volley. Maribor responded on the counter though there was a sense the Portuguese side were turning the screw, dominating possession even if clear sights of goals were at a premium.

The Lions pressed higher and higher, suffocating the Slovenian champions. Carlos Mané shot wide after pouncing on some poor defending but Nani showed him how it is done with a lovely effort, cutting in from the right and arrowing a left-footed drive inside the upright.

It appeared to be the killer blow. Mané could have made sure of it but his point-blank attempt was brilliantly kept out by Handanovič – that man again – and he and Maribor got their reward in the 92nd minute when Naby Sarr and Jefferson both failed to clear, contriving to send Portuguese-born Zahovič through on goal. The 18-year-old substitute made no mistake.

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