lonfat lift sends sochaux soaring published: thursday 2 december 2004, 0.03cet sporting clube de portugal 0-1 fc sochaux-montbéliard johann lonfat slows sporting's group d momentum.
fc sochaux-montbéliard secured a hard-fought uefa cup group d victory against sporting clube de portugal in lisbon thanks to johann lonfat's early strike. however, the result of tonight's other match in the group, a 5-2 victory for panionios nfc against fc dinamo tbilisi, means that newcastle united fc are still the only side certain to progress to the knockout stages with one round of matches to go.
only goal the only goal of the game came in the second minute courtesy of home defender anderson polga's mistake. the brazilian seemed to have won his battle for the ball with tunisian striker santos on the edge of the area, but took an unnecessary extra touch, allowing lonfat to steal possession before firing in from an acute angle to give the visitors the perfect start after last week's 4-0 loss to newcastle.
supporters stunned the goal stunned the home supporters, as sporting had started the game with intent, nearly taking the lead themselves in the opening 30 seconds. good wing play on the right from liedson led to a cross to rogerio, who struck the ball first time but steered his shot just wide.
familiar pattern thereafter the first half settled into a familiar pattern, sporting dictating possession while sochaux were content to sit back and catch the home side on the break. on more than one occasion, home goalkeeper ricardo was forced to race off his line to prevent a sochaux player bearing down on goal.
hit crossbar the home side's final ball let them down time and again, and the nearest they came to equalising in the first period was when sochaux defender grégory paisley sliced a low cross against his own crossbar with his goalkeeper well beaten.
crowd restless the second half produced more of the same, and some disappointing final deliveries from sporting's talented ball players resulted in the crowd becoming restless. as in the opening period, their best chance after the break came from a sochaux defender. fabio rochemback's cross from the left was diverted towards his own goal by souleymane diawara, and it needed a stunning reflex save down to his right by teddy richert to prevent a sporting equaliser.
sochaux chances sochaux had chances to wrap the match up, jaouad zairi shooting straight at goalkeeper ricardo from close range from santos' pinpoint cross from the left. substitute jérémy menez then blasted over when clean through after more hesitancy in the sporting defence.
goal blitz despite the scoreline both teams still looked set to qualify but a late goal flurry in the other group match gave panionios a vital victory against their georgian opponents. that scoreline means the greek side still have a chance of overtaking sochaux if they overcome the french side on matchday 5. although sporting could yet fall behind both sides if they lose to newcastle, they have a far superior goal difference to their two rivals and still look set to join the english side in the last 32 of the competition.