LISBON, Portugal (AP) – Sporting Lisbon defender Xandao scored with an audacious back-heeled shot in a 1-0 win over Manchester City on Thursday in the first leg of the last 16 of the Europa League.
Xandao pounced in the 51st minute in a goalmouth scramble after ‘keeper Joe Hart had failed to hold Matias Fernandez’s dipping free kick or palm it safely out.
Sporting, lying fourth in its domestic championship and playing under its second manager this season, proved to be a tough adversary and had Man City on the ropes for long spells.
City tried to slow the pace of the game in the first half, but after falling behind the Premier League leaders sharpened their attack by introducing Samir Nasri and Mario Balotelli, who hit the goal frame with a late header.
City had an early setback when central defender Vincent Kompany went off injured within the first 10 minutes and was replaced by Joleon Lescott.
Hart blocked Joao Pereira’s early effort as Sporting pressed forward. But at the other end, goalkeeper Rui Patricio stuck out a leg to stop Kolo Toure’s header.
City midfielder Gareth Barry’s shot from the edge of the area scraped the post in the 24th.
Sporting grew bolder after Xandao’s strike. Ricky van Wolfswinkel was unmarked and looked certain to make it 2-0 when he received the ball inside the area from Emiliano Insua, but the Dutch striker shot weakly toward Hart.
Roberto Mancini’s substitutions restored the balance of the game as City created a series of chances, however a sliding tackle by Xandao denied Sergio Aguero in the closi
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