Spurs left stunned by Paulinho and Arthur’s late goals for Sporting

Late goals by Paulinho and Arthur gave Sporting Lisbon a 2-0 win over Spurs in the Champions League

Suddenly, this place exploded, green and white going wild and why not? They had never experienced this before and what a way to do it. Sporting won their opening two Champions League games for the first time, two goals in added time giving them a victory over Tottenham Hotspur and leaving Antonio Conte standing there wondering what had just happened. He had talked about the importance of a strong squad, how substitutes can change games, and he was right but it was Paulinho and Arthur Gomes who came from the bench to do so.

“Maybe we didn’t deserve to win but at the same time I think we didn’t deserve to lose,” Conte said. This, he insisted, was a lesson in the “very high level” demanded by a competition where “mistakes are paid for.” On an entertaining evening when their former player Marcus Edwards drew a standing ovation for his moment of Maradona, Spurs had their chances to have won it and certainly did not expect to lose it, 22 shots not yielding a goal until normal time was up.

In part perhaps that was because Conte had seen opportunities fall mostly to a full-back rather than his forwards. Emerson Royal had three and there was one good chance each for Harry Kane and Richarlison, yet none for Son Heung-min.

Then, in the 90th minute, Pedro Porro brilliantly killed a long ball to the right, turned inside and struck a lovely curling shot towards the far post. Hugo Lloris saved that – “the best save of the game”, Conte called it – but from the corner Paulinho leapt above Emerson to head into the net.

Remarkably, it wasn’t even over, Arthur coming on to see out the last few seconds and instead dashing into the area from the left to score a sensational second in the 93rd minute, leaving Spurs to lament the ones that slipped away from them, particularly early in each half, a succession of crosses causing Sporting problems but not ultimately producing the breakthrough.

The first saw Richarlison head into the turf from close range after Ivan Perisic’s curling ball. Next, a vicious Emerson cross then flashed right through the six yard box, past five men. And from a throw, the ball fell to Emerson close to goal. Falling backwards, unable to tame it entirely, the Brazilian could only put it over the bar. Other, more subtle incisive routes to goal were seen by Kane, who twice slipped in his attacking teammates only for the flag to go up. The second of them, superbly made, saw Richarlison dribble beyond Antonio Adán and finish smoothly but he knew his run had begun beyond the final defender.

Not that it had been all Spurs, far from it. Edwards enjoyed meeting his former club again, setting up the game’s first chance with a scurrying run to find Francisco Trincão, whose shot was pushed away by Lloris. Trincão had another effort when Goncalo Inácio set him running though. And Edwards sliced over. There was a willingness from Sporting to get up and running and a mobility to their front three, Edwards starting centrally but appearing to the right, the left and deeper.

Arthur celebrates sealing Sporting’s victory.
Arthur celebrates sealing Sporting’s victory. Photograph: Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

There was quality too, a big roar greeting a spin and fine footwork from Edwards. The defender Matheus Reis produced a back heel nutmeg on Kane, the world upside down. That got a cheer, but the moment that left the Sporting fans’ mouths open and applauding, a standing ovation ringing around this arena, came just before half time.

Mini Messi? This was more like Maradona. Edwards picked the ball up in the middle of the pitch, turned and beat Eric Dier, not once but twice, pulled away from Perisic and raced towards the Tottenham area, slotting the ball to Trincão. The ball came back, Edwards swivelled a hip, evaded Cristian Romero and then jabbed with the point of his boot. It deflected off Lloris twice, somehow squirming under him and past the post.

Two more clear chances fell to Emerson early in the second half. Both were made by Kane – a superb deep cross and a clever, quickly taken clipped free-kick – and both were saved by Adán.

A header clawed away and a shot blocked with the knees, neither were orthodox but both were effective. So too was a full-length save from Kane. Perisic could not believe that another apparently perfect delivery had not found a finishing touch, Kane throwing himself at it, just unable to make contact. Then Richarlison dived to head a fraction wide of the near post.

It would get worse for Tottenham. Edwards and Gonçalves combined to draw a save from Lloris, then Edwards bundled over Ben Davies and reached deep into the area, a reminder of a threat and signal for the noise levels to rise until, at the very end, they rocketed right off the scale.


Sid Lowe at Estádio José Alvalade

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