Sporting CP 0-1 Leverkusen
Karim Bellarabi scored and also hit the post as the Werkself registered a first-leg advantage against a home side who finished with ten men.
Article top media content
- Improvised Karim Bellarabi finish grants Leverkusen first-leg lead
- Goalscorer also rattles post late on
- Sporting lose Ruben Semedo to red card
- Portuguese side need first ever win in Germany to have a chance
- The second leg takes place next week ahead of Friday's round of 16 draw
Leverkusen have positioned themselves to advance to the UEFA Europa League round of 16 with an away goal in Lisbon to leave Sporting CP up against it.
Karim Bellarabi turned in the only goal of the night at the back post midway through the first period. It could have been a lot more comfortable for a visiting side that ran the show as the goalscorer struck the post late on after the dismissal of Ruben Semedo.
Sporting's record against German teams is miserable – just two wins from 22 meetings – and Leverkusen set out quickly to extend that poor run. Stefan Kiessling drilled over from the edge of the box before Ömer Toprak's bullet header flew centimetres off target. A well-worked move did bring the opener on 26 minutes; Kiessling spread the play wide to the right, Tin Jedvaj sent in a deep first-time cross and Bellarabi improvised a finish with his knee to earn a deserved advantage.
Sporting struggled to establish themselves and Bernd Leno's smart stop from Jefferson's powerful effort rebuffed their only chance of the opening period. Admir Mehmedi sneaked in at the back post after the restart to connect with Hakan Çalhanoğlu's free-kick into the area, but Rui Patrício smothered the attempt.
Though Sporting tried to rally, the inspiration to get behind the visiting rearguard failed to materialise, while at the other end Kyriakos Papadopoulos's header and another Mehmedi effort were blocked out. Semedo's second yellow with 16 minutes remaining saw Sporting stall further and it could have been even worse as Bellarabi cracked the upright from range in the dying moments.
Key player: Karim Bellarabi (Leverkusen)
His finish showed plenty of invention as the winger went at Jedvaj's cross with his knee as it dropped faster than first anticipated. Unusual, yes, but highly effective – and the No38 was just as proficient elsewhere as he regularly stretched the home defence with his lung-bursting runs and might have had another when a looping shot from outside the box thumped into the post.
Tireless Leverkusen prove too much
Roger Schmidt's sides are typically all-action and this was no different. Sporting could not handle the pace that flew at them. Bellarabi, Mehmedi and Hakan were constantly driving at the Sporting back line and the German club could easily have been out of sight. Leverkusen's 14 efforts compared with two for Sporting show just how little the hosts managed to get to grips with the Werkself whirlwind.
History against Sporting revival
Sporting fans will not find much in the history books to give them hope of turning this tie around. The Lions have been to Germany on 11 occasions, never won, and avoided defeat just once. With Leverkusen having taken their record against Sporting to four victories in five with this result, past precedents certainly weigh heavily against Jorge Jesus's team.