Manchester City, one of the EPL’s best, was taught a lesson by the fourth place team in Portugal.
After Sporting’s total domination at the Alvalade Stadium, Roberto Mancini claimed his team didn’t deserve to lose. The truth was Sporting should’ve won by a larger margin in the first leg and Mancini was trying to bury his team’s problems under the rug.
How did Sporting Lisbon knock Man City out of the Europa League?
Sporting’s coach Sá Pinto’s formula of confusing and shaking up City’s underachievers worked perfectly. He opted for a 4x4x2 offensive strategy with emphasis on quick distribution and not giving the ball away cheaply. It was frustrating for Man City players to chase the game.
Leave it to Swansea City and Sporting Lisbon to finally unlock the secret to dominating Manchester City! While Sá Pinto did his homework well, his counterpart didn’t do his team any favors by pushing players like David Silva and Sergio Aguero all season. They finally ran out of gas. All the money spent by the owners and the only trophy still left to play for is the Premier League. Look over your shoulder Mancini because Jose Mourinho is waiting to pounce. Again.
Instead of studying Sporting’s tactics and learning from the first leg defeat, Mancini adopted a false sense of superiority and opted to take the return leg for granted. Save for 20 minutes, Sporting were by far deserved winners.
At the Etihad Stadium, Sporting continued with a 4x4x2 formation, but slightly adapted to 4x5x1 defensively. This meant Matias Fernandez would fill in the space in the center of midfield and further frustrate City’s tiring players by not allowing them the freedom of possession. With Stefan Savic and Kolo Toure bringing the ball out of the back, Man City couldn’t handle the pressure and folded. Sporting won the ball back with ease and countered quickly and effectively through the wings. Matias Fernandez dictated the game and as the Portuguese side imposed their superiority with their skill on the ball, it shook up Man City’s defense and they began to panic. Mario Balotelli the first to show his frustrations by needlessly fouling a Sporting attacker which led to the first goal.
Contrary to Mancini’s views, Sporting’s 3-0 aggregate lead was no fluke. He mistakingly expected Sporting to defend their 1-0 lead, but they came into the Etihad to win. By halftime, Man City needed four goals to survive. Only then did they realize what had hit them, but it was too late. As Man City pushed, Sporting finally ran themselves into the ground and the bravery of players like Bruno Pereirinha carried them to the finish line. Pereirinha played the last 15 minutes with a dislocated shoulder.
The icing on the cake was Rui Patricio’s incredible fingertip save on Joe Hart’s last gasp header. Joe Hart tried in vain to make up for his mistake in the first leg that led to Sporting bringing a vital 1-0 lead into the second leg. Instead of punching the ball clear from a simple shot, Hart dropped it straight onto an oncoming Sporting player and the rest is history.
In the post-match conference Sá Pinto claimed “It was an injustice to suffer that much.” After all, Sporting had dominated the majority of both legs.
Did Sporting Lisbon teach Manchester City a lesson when they shocked and knocked them out of the Europa League? Have your say by leaving a comment below.