Manchester City threw everything at Sporting Lisbon and came close on many occasions, but couldn't find a vital away goal. Sporting will like their chances of pulling off an upset and progressing after the second leg, thanks to their 1-0 home victory in the first leg of their Europa League Round of 16 tie.
Things did not get off to a good start for City. Central defender and captain Vincent Kompany appeared to pick up a calf injury in the 8th minute and limped off hurt. He was immediately substituted for Joleon Lescott. While City have plenty of defensive depth, their chances of progressing in this competition and staying on top of the Premier League title race will be harmed significantly if he is out for any extended period of time.
The two teams went into halftime tied 0-0, with Sporting content to keep the ball but not get too risky going forward for much of the half. Early in the second, they would find their breakthrough on a set piece.
After a foul by Nigel de Jong, Matias Fernandez stepped up and hit a great shot on target, which was saved by Joe Hart. He parried it into the path of Xandao, whose attempt was also saved. The third shooting attempt was a charm for Sporting, as Xandao brilliantly backheeled the next attempt past Hart to put Sporting up 1-0.
Samir Nasri was subbed on for Gareth Barry in response for City, but they would never find an equalizer. They dominated possession late and hit the woodwork three times, but Sporting did enough to hold on. They take a 1-0 lead to Eastlands, and they've given themselves a great chance to get through by denying City an away goal.
For more on the Citizens, check out Manchester City blog Bitter and Blue.