Slimani strikes as Sporting triumph
A pair of Islam Slimani goals bookended a feisty game that saw Sporting Lisbon overcome Schalke 4-2 to blow Group G wide open.
Unfortunately, the first was a 17th minute own-goal, as Slimani inadvertently headed a free-kick past Rui Patricio in the Sporting goal.
The Portuguese side drew level nine minutes later. Centre-back Naby Sarr headed home a Jefferson cross to restore parity. Buoyed by this, the hosts pushed on and were almost rewarded on the half-hour mark when Slimani played in midfielder William Carvalho, but his shot was saved by Ralf Fahrmann.
It was until after the break that Sporting raced into the lead: Nani laid off to Jefferson, who fired in low from distance. Roberto di Matteo threw on Kevin-Prince Boateng in a bid to turn the game around, and soon after Germany winger Sidney Sam replaced Chinedu Obasi.
However, shortly after Sporting doubled their advantage through on-loan Manchester United winger Nani.
It appeared the scoring was done, but Schalke pulled one back through Dennis Aogo after he was played in by Boateng on the left. With two minutes left on the watch, the Royal Blues poured forward in search of a late equaliser.
Consequently, gaps appeared at the back, and Oriol Rosell’s ball over the top on a counter attack found Slimani in space. The forward ran the length of the opposition half, held off his man brilliantly, and slotted past Fahrmann.
This result means that any of Group G’s four teams are still in with a mathematical chance of progression to UEFA Champions League knockout stage.