After all, there was a limit set for the number of things that could go wrong, all at once and all for Sporting: it was called Aberdeen and Aberdeen appeared at the right time.
It is not that they did not warn us that this could happen, but despite the global analysis pre-match presented him as an “accessible adversary” no one was expecting free access to the play-off of the Europa League. That’s what happened, and Sporting, without money for big contracts, with a presidential contest always vigilant, adding several positive cases to the covid-19, among which the coach and the doctor and nine players, in short, Sporting who did not had an official game on the calendar overtook a clinically healthier opponent, with eight leg meetings – and footballingly irrelevant.
The script was simple: get in well, take advantage of the rest of your muscles and score early. From the abstract to the practice in just seven minutes, Tiago Tomás became the youngest sportinguista to score in UEFA competitions, at just 18 years, three months and nine days. Tomás was one of many young people chosen by Rúben Amorim and supervised by Emanuel Ferro for Alvalade from the bank; the average age of eleven, by the way, was closer to an Olympic team, which usually has three or four veterans, than to a professional team looking for its future in Europe.
After the first goal, Sporting would look for the second without success, despite some good ideas presented – and above all for the prescient talent of Vietto, a footballer whose speed of thought is not accompanied by his legs or his colleagues.
Aberdeen, on the other hand, alternated moments of very high and intense pressure (and even interesting), with others much less ambitious, in which the difficulty was to find a place to accommodate eleven players in an area equivalent to a backyard.
But the difference in quality was big and therefore enough to allow very short exchanges of ball for the Scots in areas where talented opponents tend to complicate strategies – and, definitely, Aberdeen was not one of them.
So that under normal conditions, only an unlikely episode – a stroke of genius was an impossibility – would prevent Sporting from overtaking Aberdeen: a penalty goal, an own goal, an unintentionally scored goal, a goal scored backwards. on a disoriented reception (I invite the reader to similar exaggerations).
Or, lactic acid.
Because a team that doesn’t run is a weakened team, and when the justified differences in competitive pace were accentuated, there in the middle of the second half, Aberdeen started to reach the bottom line – or in the middle of it – and crossing for the Sporting area. This does not mean that the Scots have accumulated exuberant bids afterwards, but it also does not hide the jitters felt by Adán and the three central players in front of him.
However, the predictability of Aberdeen’s two plans – always attack the depth on its left side, by the blond Hedges; hitting dead balls to the farthest pole, in the middle of a hand-to-hand fight inside – facilitated the lion’s cover in the moments when the legs began to weaken. Sporting then had to hold the ball, freeze the game and rotate players in defense and midfield and attack to make up for the lost glow – and above all keep their cool.
It went well and finally good news. Next comes LASK and then who knows what will come.