LISBON – Sporting needed a stoppage-time goal to pull out a 1-0 victory on Monday over Moreirense, the worst team in Portugal’s Primeira Liga.
The narrow victory leaves the Lisbon side in third place with 59 points, the same as Benfica, who are in second place thanks to a better goal difference.
Porto leads the league with 60 points.
Even a match against relegation-bound Moreirense posed a challenge for a Porto squad missing four starters.
Besides injured star forward Bas Dost, the home side were without Fabio Coentrão, William Carvalho and Cristiano Piccini, all stricken by a virus.
Sporting dominated possession in the first half, but never got near the Moreirense goal, and things threatened to get much worse eight minutes into the second half, when the visitors thought they had taken the lead on a goal that was called back after VAR detected a hand ball.
Just past the hour mark, Sporting went down to 10 men after Radoslav Petrovic was sent off for a second yellow card.
As time ran out, Gelson Martins let loose with a hard shot from the edge of the 18-yard box and the ball deflected off an opposing player to end up in the Moreirense net.
Peeling off his shirt to celebrate, Martins picked up a second yellow card and will miss Friday’s potentially decisive clasico with Porto.