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Stunning start to the season

The whole Olhanense squad is valued at less than the cost of one of Sporting Lisbon’s fourteen new summer signings.

The Algarveans will therefore be delighted to have escaped from the Avalade Stadium with a point after being dominated for most of the match.

That they left Lisbon with anything is largely down to a moment of inspiration from Sporting loanee Wilson Eduardo, who on the half hour mark collected the ball, cut inside and fired an unstoppable shot past Rui Patrício from 30 metres.

The 33,000 Sporting fans looked on in disbelief while the 300 travelling fans went wild with delight.

Before and after that moment of magic it was a question of stout defending, with stalwart Maurício outstanding as ever, along with fine goalkeeping from Fabiano Freitas, the 23 year-old making his debut after signing from América de Natal (Brazil) in the summer.

Shortly after the goal, Sporting’s €3.75million signing from Barcelona, Jeffren, was lucky to stay on the pitch when his knee high challenge on new boy Cauê (ex.Leixões) resulted in only a yellow card although the incident happened under the nose of referee Carlos Xystra. With half-time fast approaching, Hélder Postiga got behind the visitors defence but a superb save from Fabiano Freitas once again frustrated a Sporting team that contained four players who had helped Portugal thrash Luxembourg the previous week.

It was more of the same in the second period with Maurício, wearing the captain’s armband for the first time, ably assisted by Mexer and Fernando Alexandre, keeping the Leões at bay.

On 70 minutes Sporting thought they had drawn level when Hélder Postiga had the ball in the net.

Fortunately for the visitors, the goal was ruled out for offside although TV replays showed that the goal was good.

But ten minutes later the home side were level when half-time substitute Izmailov hammered home a rebound after yet another fine save by Fabiano Freitas.

Olhanense fought to the final whistle and for the second year running left the Lion’s den with a point.