Manchester United won its Champions League group today by virtue of a 2-1 win over Sporting at Old Trafford. Sporting was valiant, taking a 1-0 lead into the locker room at halftime, which is exactly where the game was won. Sir Alex Ferguson schooled his counterpart Paolo Bento in the second half, inserting Ryan Giggs and shifting the tide of play in midfield. Giggs outclassed the injury-plagued Sporting side which had no adjustments to match Ferguson's.
The irony has to be thick for Sporting, which supplied Man. U. with its future in recent years, having sent over Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani. Sporting's academy is is a sensational venue for young talent, and such sell-offs are the way of life for a big fish in a small pond such as Sporting, which has to sell its best players to satisfy shareholders. The club is a perennial contender in Portugal, an occasional winner and once in a while, pulls off something special like its 2005 run at the UEFA Cup final. But much like that day against CSKA Moscow and yesterday against United, Sporting comes up short in talent and resources.