Sep 17, 2014 at 7.45pm UK at ​Ljudski vrt
Maribor
1-1
Sporting Lisbon
Zahovic (92')
Tavares (22'), Ibraimi (89')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Nani (80')
Mauricio (42')

Match Analysis: Maribor 1-1 Sporting Lisbon

Maribor's Marcos Tavares vies for the ball with Rubin Kazan's Wakaso Mubarak during the UEFA Europa league football match NK Maribor vs FC Rubin Kazan, in Maribor, on September 19, 2013
© Getty Images
Sports Mole analyses Sporting Lisbon's 1-1 draw away to Maribor in their opening Group G encounter of the Champions League.

Luka Zahovic climbed off the bench to rescue a 1-1 draw for Maribor in their Champions League opener with Sporting Lisbon in Slovenia tonight.

Nani's 80th-minute opener looked to be enough to settle a match that was riddled with failed opportunities in front of goal from both sides.

However, the 18-year-old Zahovic, on his Champions League debut, capitalised on a dreadful error from Mauricio to head past Rui Patricio in the dying stages.

Below, Sports Mole looks at what happened and how it happened in this Group C encounter at the Ljudski Stadium this evening.

Match statistics

MARIBOR

Shots: 11
On target: 6
Possession: 41%
Corners: 4
Fouls: 12

SPORTING LISBON

Shots: 21
On target: 11
Possession: 59%
Corners: 8
Fouls: 15

Was the result fair?

Undoubtedly. Victory for Sporting would have flattered the Portuguese giants, and Maribor got their just desserts for a dogged performance on their return to the Champions League stage after a 15-year absence. Sharing the spoils was a fitting conclusion.

Maribor's performance

The Slovenians enjoyed a respectable return to this competition, having not qualified for the group stages since 1999. However, Ante Simundza will know that his side will have to be far more clinical in front of goal if the minnows are to stand any chance of reaching the last 16. With Chelsea and Schalke also in Group G, the margin for error against those sides will be far smaller and Maribor will need to rectify their goalscoring woes to avoid the wooden spoon.

Sporting Lisbon performance

Sporting, like their Slovenian counterparts, were guilty of spurning a series of clear-cut opportunities in a game that could have easily finished 5-5. They got away with them tonight - they won't against Chelsea or Schalke. It might also worry coach Marco Silva that Maribor, ranked 89th in UEFA's coefficiency list, had so many chances to waste.

Sports Mole's man of the match

Nani: On another night the Manchester United loanee would have left the Ljudski Stadium as the match winner, but Zahovic's late equaliser should not detract from what was an impressive display from Nani. Far and away Sporting's most lively player in the first half, he dipped slightly after the restart but compensated for that second-half decline with a fine opening goal on 80 minutes - his first since rejoining the club on loan - and it might just be what he needs to kick-start his Sporting career after a mixed start.

Biggest gaffe

Sporting defender Mauricio will have wanted the ground to open up after Zahovic's stoppage-time equaliser. It was his hashed clearance that the 18-year-old capitalised on before heading past Patricio. It looked to be a routine clearance for Mauricio, who sliced his volley into the path of Zahovic and that is the reason why Sporting do not occupy top spot in Group G ahead of Chelsea and Schalke - who drew 1-1 - this evening.

Referee performance Neither coach can have much complaint over referee Clement Turpin's performance tonight. The French official brandished three yellow cards and judged all three correctly. Stellar display overall.

What next?

Maribor: The reigning Slovenian champions resume league duties by facing Koper away on Saturday afternoon.

Sporting Lisbon: Marco Silva's men, meanwhile, have a little more time in which to recover from tonight as they face Gil Vicente on Sunday.

NK Maribor's players celebrate after scoring during the UEFA Group G Champions League footbal match NK Maribor vs Sporting Lisbon in Maribor, Slovenia on September 17, 2014
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