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Lowly Gent end perfect Sporting record

KAA Gent 3-1 Sporting Clube de Portugal
The hosts took full advantage of Abel's 77th-minute dismissal by striking twice in the closing stages for a first Group C win.

Ibrahima Conté (second right) celebrates putting Gent 2-1 ahead
Ibrahima Conté (second right) celebrates putting Gent 2-1 ahead ©Getty Images

KAA Gent secured their first victory in UEFA Europa League Group C at the expense of Sporting Clube de Portugal, striking twice in the last 11 minutes after Abel had been sent off for the visitors.

Carlos Saleiro equalised for Sporting seven minutes before the break after a penalty from Tim Smolders had given the Belgian team an early lead. The turning point, however, arrived 13 minutes from time when Sporting captain Abel was dismissed for collecting a second booking, paving the way for substitutes Ibrahima Conté and Shlomi Arbeitman to end the Lions 100% record in the section.

Sporting fashioned the first chance through Saleiro, who tested Gent goalkeeper Bojan Jorgačević, but were soon behind when Abel fouled Zlantan Ljubijankič and Smolders converted from the spot. Bernd Thijs came close to doubling the lead soon after, a miss which initially proved costly as 19-year-old debutant Cédric Soares delivered an excellent cross which Saleiro headed in.

Ljubijankič threatened a response at the beginning of the second half as Gent began to look the more likely side to forge ahead. Top of the group, Sporting were more than content to play on the counterattack but suffered a serious blow to their hopes of making it four wins from four in the group when Abel departed following a foul on Wallace.

Gent took full advantage, with Conté receiving the ball on the left and shooting right-footed past Timo Hildebrand. Arbeitman made sure there was no way back for Sporting soon after, heading in Yassine El Ghanassy's delivery from the right and confirming the Lions' first defeat by Belgian opposition in over half a century.