Portugal native Jose Mourinho brought his London powerhouse Chelsea his birth nation to face Sporting Clube de Portugal in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, and ran out a winner.
Former Benfica star Nemanja Matic scored in the 34th minute to give the Blues a lead they would not relent. Mourinho, who also managed both Porto and Benfica, sees his club atop the Group G for the time being.
The two clubs, along with Maribor and Schalke, entered the day even on points after first day fixtures both ended in 1-1 draws.
Diego Costa ran onto a breakaway in just the second minute of play, but Rui Patricio kicked out his left leg to deny the Chelsea striker.
Thibaut Courtois was called into action to stop on-loan Manchester United winger Nani in the seventh minute, but it wasn’t truly dangerous.
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And he again had to make a big stop when Silva’s cross found Slimani’s head, and the Algerian striker headed it down. Courtois snared the bouncing ball with a leap.
At the other end, moments later, Patricio saved a well-headed ball by Andre Schurrle, and then was called on to deny the attacker in the 20th minute.
A defensive breakdown should’ve led to Schurrle breaking the deadlock in the 22nd minute, but he ripped a low shot off the left goal post from inside the 18.
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Matic made it 1-0 in the 34th minute when he met a cross at the far post and used to side of his head to pop it over Patricio.
Patricio continued to impress in the second half, the World Cup veteran (Portugal) made several strong stops including a point blank, er, midsection stop on Oscar.
Willian replaced the snake-bitten Schurrle in the 58th minute.
Costa got another breakaway in the second half that cost Sporting CP in another way. Mauricio took down Costa, and the Sporting back needed to be stretchered off, bleeding heavily from the face.
It seems the final stages of the game were more about vicious tackles and yellow card collecting from both teams, as things got more than chippy in Portugal.
Sporting had a handful of decent late chances, but couldn’t get the ball on net. Shots went wide, were blocked and deflected. Very late, Courtois rescued a hard shot that found him in perfect position.