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Dublin: 13 °C Thursday 19 April, 2018


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Welcome along to tonight’s Europa League action. Both Manchester clubs play tonight as City travel to Portugal for a meeting with Sporting Lisbon while United welcome Basque club Athletic Bilbao to Old Trafford. We will be liveblogging the two so stick with us for the next five hours of football chat.

Kick-off at the Jose Alvalade Stadium is an hour away and team line-ups will be along shortly.

Sporting Lisbon: Patricio, Pereira, Xandao, Polga, Insua, Fernandez, Carrico, Schaars, Capel, Izmailov, van Wolfswinkel. Subs: Marcelo, Rodriguez, Evaldo, Pereirinha, Neto, Carrillo, Rubio

Manchester City: Hart, Clichy, Kompany, Toure, Kolarov, Milner, De Jong, Barry, Silva, Aguero, Dzeko. Subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Savic, Pizarro, Johnson, Nasri, Balotelli.

For the home side, former Sevilla winger Diego Capel and Xandao come in for Alberto Rodriguez and Andre Carrillo. City, who are missing Yaya Toure through suspension, make four changes from the side which beat Porto 4-0. Toure, Micah Richards, Joleon Lescott and Samir Nasri make way for Aleksandar Kolarov, Kolo Toure, James Milner and Edin Dzeko,

Two notable players in Lisbon’s starting XI are Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Emilio Insua. Dutch striker Van Wolfwinkel arrived at the club from Utrecht during the summer is and is their top scorer in Europe this season with three goals. The 23-year-old is reportedly admired by Alex Ferguson and a goal or two tonight would certainly be welcomed by the United boss.

Argentine full-back Insua spent four years on the books at Liverpool before being shipped off to Lisbon via a loan move to Galatasaray and will be keen to make an impression on Premier League opposition tonight.

Here it is always difficult. I played here three or four years ago and it was very difficult,” Roberto Mancini during his pre-match interview.

The teams are emerging from the tunnel. We’re about to get started…

Looking like a bit of bad news for City early on. Skipper Vincent Kompany has gone limping over to the sideline and is unlikely to play a part in the remaining 82 minutes.

Joleon Lescott is preparing to replace the Belgian defender.

Joao Pereira has had a decent strike saved by Joe Hart and down the other end, Kolo Toure’s header from a cross on the left has been kept out by Rui Patricio.

Spanish schemer David Silva is finding space dropping between the lines but as of yet hasn’t managed to pick out that killer pass. Sporting break with four against City’s three but a one-two sees Chilean midfielder Matias Fernandez take a heavy touch and the danger is averted.

City are inches away from opening the scoring through an unlikely source at Gareth Barry receives the ball 18 yards out and curls a strike agonisingly wide. Former Villarreal Matias Fernandez wins his side a corner but sends the delivery straight into the hands of Joe Hart.

The deadlock hasn’t been broken here but Eduardo Salvio has just put Atletico Madrid a go up at home to Besiktas in one of three other Europa League ties to kick of at 6pm. The others are Twente 0-0 Schalke and Metalist 0-0 Olympiacos.

Make that 2-0 to Atletico and it’s the 21-year-old from Argentina who has grabbed his second in the space of four minutes.

In Lisbon, Sporting have had two speculative shots rebound back off City defenders in the last couple of minutes. They are getting bodies forward in numbers when they break, however.

Dzeko, attempting to keep the ball from going out over the side, plays a pass straight to Diego Capel, who finds Matias in a central position. He tries his luck from a fair distance but doesn’t find the target.

Sergio Aguero takes on fellow Argentinian Emilio Insua. Credit: Francisco Seco/AP/Press Association Images

Atletico are now 3-0 in what sounds like an extremely one-sided affair in Madrid. Adrian Lopez dances his way through the Besiktas defence and belts the ball in off the crossbar.

Matias Fernandez is currently the biggest threat to Manchester City. After a couple of step-overs takes him by two defenders, his low drive is deflected away.

Just on the stroke of half-time, Sergio Aguero has his first chance of the night but heads Dzeko’s knock-on into the hands of Patricio. De Jong is booked for catching Van Wolfswinkel on the foot and the whistle is blown.

Half-time: Sporting Lisbon 0-0 Manchester City

Sporting are back out on the pitch so we’re just waiting for City to return. The scores in the other early Europa League games are as follows:

FC Twente 0-0 Schalke

Atletico Madrid 3-0 Besiktas

Metalist 0-0 Olympiacos

Kolarov whips a ball across from the left and it makes its way to the opposite side where David Silva comes storming in to shoot over. Looks like he held back in anticipation of a tackle and didn’t quite get a good enough connection on it.

GOAL! Sporting Lisbon 1-0 Manchester City (Xandao)

City are trailing here thanks to an superbly-improvised goal by Xandao. Matias Fernandez drills in a free-kick and Hart should really do better than to push it out as far as the defender, who back-heels the ball over the line on the second time of trying.

Sporting have unsurprisingly got their tales up since the goal and are piling on the pressure. City, meanwhile, are lining up a change in personnel.

Samir Nasri is given 62 minutes to shine after he joins the action for Gareth Barry. The home team also make a substitution – withdrawing Izmailov for Pereirinha.

As play restarts, a short free-kick is played to the feet of Kolarov, who wraps his foot around the ball and absolutely lashes it past Patricio’s far post.

How are City not two down?? Insua has all day to pick out the checked run of Van Wolfswinkel but the Dutchman can only hit the body of Hart, who directs it away. He should be scoring those.

Couple of scores to get you up-to-date with.

FC Twente 1-0 Schalke

Metalist 0-1 Olympiacos

Atletico Madrid 3-1 Besiktas

Fernandez, who has been impressive on the night, has been taken off for Renato Neto. And wait… Super Mario has just joined us after replacing a below-par Edin Dzeko.

Diego Capel, who has run his socks off is off the pitch, having been substituted for Peruvian youngster Andre Carrillo. Anderson Polga catches Balotelli late and give Kolarov a pop on goal from a set piece. He can’t get the free-kick over the wall, however.

Less than 10 minutes left on the clock and I envisage most of it being played in Sporting’s half. They’re piling forward in search of an equaliser.

Balotelli, who won the free-kick himself, stands over it… but is wasteful.

Terrific leap from Balotelli but his header bounces back out of the crossbar. Time running out for City.

The visitors probably won’t get a better chance. Clichy takes a shot and it falls to Aguero, who lifts it over the Sporting keeper. Xandao gets back around and cut it out. It’s the 92nd minute so that looks to be it.

Full-time: Sporting Lisbon 1-0 Manchester City

Hart lumps the ball forward but Pereira wins the ball before stamping out. He is chopped down by Kolarov, who receives a yellow card before the final whistle goes.

So City must attempt to overturn a 1-0 deficit at the Etihad Stadium next week after what was an average display from Roberto Mancini’s side this evening. That’s my lot but Fenno is taking hold of the baton and will be liveblogging Manchester United’s clash with Athletic Bilbao, which has just started. You can get to that here. Looks like a game worth watching!

One final thing before I go. The other early results:

FC Twente 1-0 Schalke

Atletico Madrid 3-1 Besiktas

Metalist 1-0 Olympiacos

About the author:

Ben Blake