Sorry City slump in Portugal

PA Sport
Joe Hart
.

View photo

Joe Hart

Brazilian defender Xandao condemned a below-par Manchester City to a 1-0 defeat in the first leg of their Europa League tie against Sporting Lisbon.

Xandao beat Joe Hart with a clever close-range backheel after 51 minutes as the Portuguese side controlled most of the last-16 encounter at the Jose Alvalade Stadium.

Hart also made two good saves but City did have chances with Gareth Barry and Aleksandar Kolarov going close and Sergio Aguero almost breaking through late on.

Kolo Toure took over from Joleon Lescott in central defence, but that pair were playing alongside each other after just eight minutes as influential captain Vincent Kompany limped off. That was a major blow for the visitors, who created an early chance for Toure from a short corner but his header was saved by Rui Patricio.

Joao Pereira then forced Hart to make a smart save as Sporting pieced together a good move and Stijn Schaars dragged the rebound wide.

City looked to make a positive start to the second half, but a good break ended when David Silva lofted a shot from Kolarov's driven cross well over.

Sporting responded strongly and took the lead with a brilliant finish from Xandao. Hart could only parry a free-kick from Matias Fernandez but did brilliantly to block Xandao's first attempt from point-blank range. Yet he could do little to prevent City falling behind as Xandao reacted quickly and nimbly backheeled the ball past him.

Aguero worked his way into the box as City searched for an equaliser, but Patricio came out to block before Kolarov shot powerfully but narrowly wide from outside the box.

City were indebted to Hart just after the hour when he saved low down from Ricky van Wolfswinkel eight yards out. Kolarov troubled Sporting again as he found space down the left and whipped in a cross which clipped the top of the crossbar.

The hosts began to sit deep in the hope of running time down, but City struggled to make any headway. Aguero did get past Patricio in the last minute but Xandao blocked his shot and the Argentinian's appeals for a penalty were waved away, the ball having hit the defender's thigh.

View Comments