Sporting Clube de Portugal 1-1 FK Ventspils
The home side moved within a point of progression from UEFA Europa League Group D despite losing their flawless record.
Sporting Clube de Portugal moved within a point of progression from UEFA Europa League Group D thanks to a 1-1 draw against FK Ventspils.
The Portuguese side's confidence was soaring after three consecutive group wins but they were stunned when Alessandro Zamperini headed the opener on 15 minutes. Carlos Saleiro levelled seven minutes later with his first goal for the capital club but Paulo Bento's men could not maintain their momentum and had to be consoled with a six-point advantage over SC Heerenveen and Hertha BSC Berlin as their perfect start petered out.
Sporting began in the ascendancy with João Moutinho's effort from distance stinging the palms of Aleksandrs Kolinko early on. Ventspils were struggling to weather the early storm until they opened the scoring from their first serious foray forwards. André Marques was booked for bringing down Jurijs Žigajevs 30 metres from goal and from the resulting deep Jurijs Laizans free-kick, Zamperini headed powerfully into the top corner.
The Lions refused to be downhearted, however, and struck back quickly. Simon Vukčević exchanged passes with Saleiro to unlock the visiting defence and, although Kolinko kept out his strike, Saleiro was on hand to stoop to head in the rebound on his full European debut. The 23-year-old could then have doubled his tally only to head over when unmarked, while a last-ditch Zamperini challenge denied Liedson.
Nunzio Zavettieri's charges played a greater part after the resumption, but Sporting still seemed the more potent, with Liedson's early drive repelled by Kolinko. The Latvian outfit gave indication of their threat when Igor Ţîgîrlaş tiptoed into the area and demanded a diving parry from Rui Patrício, however seconds later Vukčević fired straight at Kolinko as the contest ebbed and flowed. Ultimately, Ventspils were content to take their point after withstanding late pressure.