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Impressive Vaslui see off Group D leaders Sporting

FC Vaslui 1-0 Sporting Clube de Portugal
Denis Zmeu scored on the half-hour as the Romanian side beat qualified Sporting to keep up their challenge for a round of 32 place in Group D.

Denis Zmeu pounced to secure a 1-0 win for Vaslui
Denis Zmeu pounced to secure a 1-0 win for Vaslui ©Getty Images

A composed counterattacking display from FC Vaslui saw off Group D leaders Sporting Clube de Portugal as the Romanian side picked up their first UEFA Europa League group stage victory.

Sporting's 2-0 home win against Vaslui a fortnight ago earned them qualification from the group stage after just three games, but their seven-match unbeaten run in Europe came to an end in Romania at the hands of Denis Zmeu, who squeezed the ball over the line from a corner after half an hour.

Vaslui excelled in preventing Sporting from building up any kind of rhythm, and countered incisively and at speed. Captain Adailton headed over at the back post from one break before Viorel Hizo's men went in front in the 30th minute. Zmeu was first to react in a goalmouth scramble from Lucian Sânmărtean's corner, the midfielder's prodded effort ricocheting off Bruno Pereirinha to wrong-foot Marcelo.

Sporting tried to respond, and a rare moment of confusion in the Vaslui defence allowed Valeri Bozhinov to latch on to a long Matías Fernández ball, but the Bulgarian's delicate lob dropped wide.

Vaslui were soon back on the front foot. A dangerous pass across goal by the impressive Sânmărtean presented them with a golden chance for a second moments before the interval, but a sliding Yero Bello could not make contact.

After the break, Bello raced onto Petar Jovanović’s through ball and forced Marcelo into a strong save, with Adailton sending the loose ball flying over, but while Sporting began to exert pressure thereafter, the introduction of in-form striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel could not deny Vaslui a famous victory.