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Moutinho magic keeps Sporting soaring

FK Ventspils 1-2 Sporting Clube de Portugal
João Moutinho scored a spectacular late winner as the Lisbon club triumphed in Latvia to continue their unblemished start in Group D.

João Moutinho was the Sporting hero
João Moutinho was the Sporting hero ©Getty Images

João Moutinho scored a spectacular late winner as Sporting Clube de Portugal won 2-1 at FK Ventspils to continue their unblemished start in the UEFA Europa League.

Sporting may be eleven points off the pace after only seven Liga matches this season, but Paulo Bento's side are flying in Europe and have now beaten all three opponents in Group D. The Lions needed a moment of inspiration from their captain to finally defeat Ventspils, however, after a Jurijs Laizans penalty had cancelled out Miguel Veloso's sixth-minute opener direct from a corner.

Strange opener
Twice Ventspils could have scored before Veloso's goal, alert defending from Leandro Grimi denying Edgars Gauračs a clear shot on goal before Alessandro Zamperini headed a corner over. Veloso's left-footed corner soon after looked harmless enough, but Aleksandrs Kolinko appeared to be put off by Andrejs Butriks as he guarded the near post and parried into the net.

Off the line
Kolinko responded by touching over a scuffed Liedson drive, yet could only stand and watch as Simon Vukčević swivelled and shot low against the post from close to the penalty spot. Sporting were dominant and came centimetres away from going 2-0 up when the masked Zamperini and fellow defender Jean-Paul Ndeki combined to clear a Felipe Caicedo shot off the line after the striker had dribbled round Kolinko (17).

Moutinho magic
Sporting were guilty of both failing to take a number of openings to double their lead and then dropping the tempo in the second half. Ventspils drew level in the 64th minute after Abel brought down the tricky Edgars Gauračs near the corner of the area, and Laizans slotted in the penalty from a short run up. Moutinho's strike was worth of winning any match, though, as the skipper cheekily headed the ball over a defender before depositing a fierce shot into the net.