Football

Toffees earn slender lead

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Ten-man Everton claimed a narrow first-leg 2-1 victory over Sporting Lisbon but have work still to do if they are to secure a place in the last 16 of the Europa League.

They looked in control thanks to goals from Steven Pienaar and Sylvain Distin in either half against Sporting Lisbon.

However Distin was sent off with four minutes to go after flooring Liedson and Miguel Veloso converted the penalty kick to leave the tie finely balanced.

The Toffees went into the match on the back of a superb victory against Chelsea and almost took the lead in the 12th minute when Tim Cahill put Louis Saha through. However, the striker saw his shot blocked by Rui Patricio and the goalkeeper then smothered the rebound from Leon Osman.

Considering their domestic form has been poor, Sporting did not appear to be lacking in confidence and Fernando Abel saw his ambitious effort go narrowly wide in the 26th minute.

Everton made the breakthrough in the 35th minute after Sporting were cut apart by an incisive move. Phil Neville released Cahill and he back-heeled the ball into the path of Pienaar, who swept it home.

The Toffees needed only four minutes of the second half to extend their lead. Leighton Baines swung in a corner and Sporting goalkeeper Patricio came for the ball but failed to collect. It broke to Distin at the back post and spun off his leg and into the net, although he did not appear to know too much about his effort.

Everton almost added a third goal in the 78th minute but Patricio did well to block a close-range shot from substitute Ayegbeni Yakubu.

Then Saha forced a good stop from the goalkeeper four minutes later as Sporting again found themselves on the back foot.

However, Veloso stepped up and coolly converted the spot kick after Distin's late error, leaving Everton feeling anxious heading into the second leg.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Topics:
Europa League
Leon Osman
Yakubu
Ayegbeni Yakubu
Football
Chelsea
Premier League
Tim Cahill
Everton
Phil Neville
Sylvain Distin
Steven Pienaar
Louis Saha
Leighton Baines

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