Bayer 04 Leverkusen return home with a slender 1-0 lead after edging ten-man Sporting Clube de Portugal 1-0 in their UEFA Europa League Round of 32 first leg in Lisbon.
Sporting Clube de Portugal 0-1 Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Goal: 0-1 Bellarabi (25')
Red card: Semedo (74')
Leverkusen did not hold back in the Portuguese capital, with Julian Brandt and Stefan Kießling firing over inside five minutes. Werkself captain Ömer Toprak was off target with a header from a Hakan Calhanoglu free kick, before Sporting’s Jefferson brought the first real save out of Bernd Leno in the visiting goal. The home side were beginning to attack with more purpose when Leverkusen then capped a flowing move with the opening goal. Kießling spread the play wide for Tin Jedvaj, whose measured cross was turned into the net at the far post by Karim Bellarabi.
Admir Mehmedi forced a fine reaction save out of Sporting goalkeeper Rui Patricio from another dangerous Calhanoglu free kick as Leverkusen turned the screw. The Leverkusen striker went closer still with a rising near-post drive after the hosts had Ruben Semedo sent off for two bookable offences, but Patricio was once again equal to the task. The woodwork denied Bellarabi his second of the night with four minutes remaining, and while the second goal was not forthcoming, Leverkusen have every reason to be confident of sealing the deal on home soil next Thursday.
Man of the match
Imperious at the heart of the Leverkusen defence in recent weeks, Toprak’s leadership skills were once again on full show at the Estadio Jose Alvalade. The Turkey international gave precious little away and brought an added physical presence to the Leverkusen attack from set pieces.
Sporting: Rui Patricio - Joao Perreira, Coates (Ewerton 72'), Semedo, Jefferson - Aquilani (Silva 62'), William Carvalho (c ) - Joao Mario, Carlos Mane - Gutierrez (Slimani 61'), Ruiz
Leverkusen: Leno - Jedvaj (Hilbert 84'), Tah, Toprak (c), Wendell - Kramer, Calhanoglu - Bellarabi, Brandt (Papadopoulos 65'), Mehmedi (Henrichs 79') - Kießling