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Youngsters eliminated by Sporting after Cruz-inspired comeback

Spurs 1-2 Sporting CP (UEFA Youth League)

Wed 26 October 2022, 15:20|Tottenham Hotspur

A brace from Marco Cruz saw Sporting CP come from a goal down to beat our Under-19s 2-1 and end our hopes of progressing in the UEFA Youth League at Hotspur Way on Wednesday afternoon.

Already facing an uphill struggle to qualify for the knockout stages, only a win would have kept us in with a fighting chance but after Will Lankshear capitalised on a defensive mistake to put us ahead inside 46 seconds, the Portuguese visitors turned things around to maintain top spot in Group D with one game still to play.

It means we can finish no higher than third and head to basement side Marseille next week aiming to bow out on a positive note after beating the French outfit 3-0 at home on matchday one - our only points on the board so far.

The extent to which our Academy has been affected by injuries and suspensions this season cannot be overlooked - this time, with influential UEFA Youth League skipper Matthew Craig serving a ban following his harsh late red card against Eintracht Frankfurt last time out and defender Will Andiyapan having joined the casualty list, there was a first European start for young centre-back Archie Chaplin, who turns 17 on Friday, while he ended the game playing alongside striker Jamie Donley, who was forced to operate as an emergency central defender after Alfie Dorrington limped off injured with 20 minutes to play.

We enjoyed a dream start as Lankshear latched onto a loose ball in Sporting's box to fire past goalkeeper Diego Callai and open his UEFA Youth League account inside 46 seconds but in truth it was the visitors who had the better chances as the first half progressed, Diogo Cabral denied by Aaron Maguire at his near post and Afonso Moreira cushioning a volley fractionally wide after arriving onto Cabral's cut-back at the edge of the area.

Cruz was inches away from an equaliser with a near-post flicked header from a corner after 12 minutes, but he made no mistake seven minutes later when he collected Cabral's pass in from the right side and curled low inside the far post on his left foot from 20 yards out.

Donley squeezed a shot just wide for us in the lead-up to half-time, but Sporting edged ahead on 65 minutes amid a relatively quiet second period in terms of clear-cut chances as Rodrigo Ribeiro's shot was heroically blocked by Dorrington, but Cruz was on hand to curl home the rebound. Dorrington stayed down in the wake of the goal and after initially trying to play on, had to be withdrawn a few minutes later.

Talented Under-16 duo Mikey Moore and Callum Olusesi helped to freshen us up as Donley moved back to play centre-half, Moore threatening with a gliding run down our left before going close to an equaliser with a clever angled effort from the right side that he almost lifted over Callai in stoppage time. Sporting had a couple of half-chances shortly before that while Diogo Travassos' free-kick was well saved by Maguire, but it just wasn't to be for our young side as our fate in this year's competition was sealed.

Spurs 1-2 Sporting CP (UEFA Youth League)

Spurs: Maguire, Abbott, Linton (McKnight 46), Chaplin, Dorrington (Ajayi 70), John (c), Santiago (Moore 70), Devine, Lankshear (Williams 65), Donley, Mundle (Olusesi 77). Substitutes (not used): Gunter, Mathurin.

Sporting CP: Callai, Monteiro, Batista, Muniz, Travassos, Veiga (c), Cabral (Besugo 77), Cruz (Mendonca 89), Ribeiro (Nel 90+4), Justo, Moreira (Balde Sanca 77). Substitutes (not used): Francisco Silva, Pedro Silva, Marques.

Match data

Goals: Spurs - Lankshear 1; Sporting CP - Cruz 19, 65.

Yellow cards: Spurs - Linton 35, Donley 73, Mundle 76; Sporting CP - Ribeiro 74, Moreira 76.

Referee: Vitalijs Spasjonnikovs (Latvia).

Venue: Hotspur Way, Enfield.

Weather: Sunny, moderate breeze, 18 degrees.

Attendance: 242.