UEFA Europa League – Sporting CP-Astana – Sporting CP v Astana background
Knockout phase debutants Astana make the long journey west to Lisbon to take on UEFA Europa League regulars Sporting CP in the second leg of the round of 32. The Portuguese club have a sizeable advantage to protect after coming from behind to win the first leg 3-1 in the Astana Arena.
• Astana are the first Kazakh club to participate in the knockout phase of a UEFA club competition. They claimed their place as runners-up to Villarreal in Group A, while Sporting dropped into the UEFA Europa League after finishing third behind Barcelona and Juventus in their UEFA Champions League group.
• A spectacular early strike from Astana’s Croatian midfielder Marin Tomasov provided the 2017/18 knockout phase with its first goal. However, Sporting seized command after the interval, scoring three times in seven minutes, through Bruno Fernandes (penalty), Gelson Martins and Seydou Doumbia, before home defender Yuri Logvinenko was sent off for a second booking.
• Astana took on Sporting’s city rivals Benfica in the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League. They made their group stage debut in Lisbon, losing 2-0 before drawing the return fixture 2-2 at the Astana Arena – where they surrendered a two-goal lead. Current players Patrick Twumasi and Marin Aničić scored the home team’s goals.
• Sporting hold the record for the longest sequence of home games without defeat in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final. They were unbeaten in their first 20 home matches in the competition before losing 3-1 against Lokomotiv Moskva in Lisbon on matchday one of the 2015/16 group stage. Their overall UEFA Europa League record in the Portuguese capital, including the qualifying phase, is W18 D7 L3.
• Sporting have won only one of their last six home games in UEFA competition (D2 L3), although that victory came in their most recent Lisbon fixture, a 3-1 defeat of Olympiacos on matchday five of this season’s UEFA Champions League.
• The Lions, who finished runners-up in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup, losing the final in their own stadium to CSKA Moskva (1-3), are playing in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 for the sixth time. They have won two of their previous five ties at this stage – against Everton in 2009/10 and Legia Warszawa in 2011/12 – but lost the last two, in 2015 and 2016.
• Astana came into the 2017/18 season on a run of 13 European away games without a victory (D5 L8), but they have enjoyed three successes on the road this term, all by 1-0 margins, including the matchday six victory at Slavia Praha that clinched a place in the round of 32 at their hosts’ expense.
• Astana scored one goal in each of their three away fixtures in the group stage (W2 L1). They will have to register at least three in Lisbon to stay in contention in this tie.
• Sporting finished third in last season’s Portuguese Liga and reached the UEFA Champions League group stage with a 5-1 win away to Romanian side FCSB in the play-offs, which clinched an aggregate success by the same margin.
• Beaten 8-4 on aggregate by Celtic in the UEFA Champions League play-offs (0-5 away, 4-3 home), Astana have made it through to the spring phase of European competition for the first time, having played continental group stage football three autumns running: UEFA Champions League in 2015/16 and UEFA Europa League in 2016/17 and 2017/18.
• Sporting have won ten of the 12 UEFA competition ties in which they have triumphed away in the first leg. They have never previously won the first game of a two-legged tie 3-1 away from home but have prevailed on each of the five occasions when their first-leg victory on the road was by more than a single-goal margin.
• Astana have failed to progress on each of the two occasions that they have lost the first leg of a European tie at home, most recently in the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League play-offs against Villarreal (0-3 home, 0-4 away).
UEFA Europa League squad changes
In: Fredy Montero, Rúben Ribeiro, Bryan Ruiz
Out: Gelson Dala, Mattheus Oliveira, Tobias Figueiredo, Iuri Medeiros, Alan Ruiz, Jonathan Silva
In: Yuriy Pertsukh, Baktiyor Zainutdinov, Marko Stanojević
Out: Askhat Tagybergen, Junior Kabananga
Links and trivia
• At 6,171km, the journey from Astana to Lisbon is one of the longest in European football.
• Sporting’s Stefan Ristovski and Astana’s Marin Tomasov played together at Rijeka in 2015/16.
• Sporting’s Bas Dost and Astana’s Ivan Maevski faced each other in October 2017 as the Netherlands beat Belarus 3-1 in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying.
• Astana clinched their fourth successive Kazakh Premier League title on 5 November 2017, finishing one point ahead of perennial rivals Kairat Almaty.
• Sporting’s transfer from the UEFA Champions League means they have participated in seven of the nine UEFA Europa League campaigns. Only Ajax (eight appearances) have been involved in more.
• This is the 48th time that Sporting boss Jorge Jesus has led a team in the UEFA Europa League. Only one other coach has overseen more games in the competition – three-time trophy winner Unai Emery (59).
• Astana’s Yuri Logvinenko serves a one-game suspension after his first-leg red card.
• Serikzhan Muzhikov is available again for Astana after a one-game ban.
• Suspended for next match if booked: Marcos Acuña, Fábio Coentrão, Gelson Martins, Bruno Fernandes, William Carvalho, Sebastián Coates (Sporting); Igor Shitov, Ivan Maevski (Astana).
• Sporting have lost both their UEFA penalty shoot-outs:
3-5 v Dinamo Minsk, 1984/85 UEFA Cup second round
3-4 v Napoli, 1989/90 UEFA Cup first round
• Astana have yet to feature in a UEFA penalty shoot-out.
• Jorge Jesus was lured to Sporting from Lisbon rivals Benfica in 2015 after six seasons as head coach with the Eagles that brought nine domestic trophies, including three Liga titles, plus two runners-up berths in the UEFA Europa League – in 2012/13 to Chelsea and 2013/14 to Sevilla. His relatively discreet playing career started with Sporting in the early 1970s.
• Recruited in June 2014, Stanimir Stoilov led Astana to their fourth successive Kazakh title last November. The former Bulgaria midfielder and national team coach enjoyed his most fruitful years as a player at Levski Sofia, whom he later guided to two national championships as well as the 2005/06 UEFA Cup quarter-finals and the following season’s UEFA Champions League group stage.