LISBON (AFP) - Fiorentina earned a vital 2-2 draw away from home at 10-man Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League play-off round here on Tuesday.
The Italians will now be favourites to progress to the competition group stage following next week's second leg in Florence.
The visitors took an early lead when Juan Vargas lashed home a low shot from outside the area.
Alberto Gilardino had crossed from the right and the Peruvian took the ball on his chest, bundled through a weak tackle and sent home a strike on six minutes that Rui Patricio got a hand to but couldn't keep out.
Fiorentina were lucky not to have a man sent off, though, when Alessandro Gamberini tangled with Sporting's Brazilian forward Liedson.
Gamberini appeared to lash out with his hand in Liedson's neck but was only shown a yellow card, as was Sporting's Montenegro striker Simon Vukcevic, who shoved the Italian in the chest following the original fracas.
That was followed by a spell of home dominance with Everton target Joao Moutinho forcing French goalkeeper Sebastien Frey into a sprawling low save.
Former Tottenham forward Helder Postiga went close again in first half stoppage time but curled his effort just past the upright.
The Portuguese predictably came out firing at the start of the second period and deservedly drew level on 58 minutes when Vukcevic pounced on a kind deflection in the box to slide home past Frey.
However, the Montenegran then stupidly removed his shirt in celebration and was promptly shown a second yellow card and sent to the stands.
Even so, the hosts extended their lead on 66 minutes as Miguel Veloso thrashed home an unstoppable shot into the top corner from outside the box.
That opened up the game with Fiorentina pushing forward for an equaliser and Sporting looking to hit them on the counter.
Riccardo Montolivo came close to restoring parity as he ran through two tackles but then shot too close to Patricio.
However he then fashioned La Viola's stunning leveller as Gilardino took his chip into the box on his chest before prodding home a volley with the outside of his right boot.
Substitute Stevan Jovetic almost snatched a winner for the visitors three minutes from time but after leaving two men on the seat of their pants in the box, he shot straight at Patricio.
|S. Vukčević||12' 58' 59'|
|Coach: Paulo Bento|
for Pedro Silva 57'
for André Marques 67'
for Hélder Postiga 81'
|Robinson joins QPR|
|Mazzarri lauds Kovacic development|
|Townsend eager to get back to full fitness|
|Tottenham 3 AEL 0 (agg 5-1): Spurs cruise into Europa League proper|
|Leicester complete sensational Cambiasso swoop|
|Del Piero confirms move to Indian Super League|
|Hull City 2 Lokeren 1 (agg 2-2): Lokeren progress despite Brady brace|
|Benatia excited to face Roma|
|Inter 6 Stjarnan 0 (agg 9-0): Kovacic treble sees hosts cruise through|
|Championship Preview: Redfearn in charge for Bolton clash, Magath eyes first league win|
|Newcastle United v Crystal Palace: Warnock kicks off second Palace stint|
|Atletico Madrid v Eibar: Champions seek first win|
|Rodgers excited about ´special´ draw|
|Manchester City v Stoke City: Pellegrini could chop and change|
|Warnock has no issues with Puncheon|
|Sacked Hockaday´s tenure at Leeds lasts just six games|
|Palace re-sign Zaha on loan|
|Burnley v Manchester United: Van Gaal hoping to kickstart recovery|
|Ronaldo named Europe´s best|
|Swansea City v West Brom: Monk wants Liberty fortress|
|Cameroon confident DR Congo clash will go ahead|
|West Ham v Southampton: Koeman anticipating physical West Ham challenge|
|Hughes expecting tough City test|
|Holders Real set for Liverpool test|
|Monk targeting two more additions|
|Koeman keen for ´difficult´ transfer window to end|
|Van Basten absent due to health issues|
|League Two Preview: Morecambe chase another win, giant-killers back in action|
|Irvine eyeing another winger|
|Van Gaal confirms more signings to come|
|Barca are constantly improving, says Rakitic|
|Di Maria is not ´the miracle´, says Van Gaal|
|Torres Milan move ´a real possibility´|
|Juventus v Chievo: Allegri begins quest to replicate Conte success|
|League One Preview: MK Dons and Orient aim to follow up historic wins|
|Schalke v Bayern Munich: Benatia in line for debut|
|Pirlo blow for Juve|
|Napoli defender Ghoulam suffers fractured arm|
|QPR v Sunderland: Redknapp desperate for points|
|Everton v Chelsea: Costa absence could prove costly|
|Deschamps makes two changes to France squad|
|Warnock excited by Palace challenge|
|Lambert: Delph deserves England call-up|
|Aguirre names five uncapped players in Japan squad|
|Ki signs new four-year Swansea deal|
|CSL Preview: Lippi returns to dugout, Beijing Guoan host rock-bottom Harbin Yiteng|
|J.League Preview: Yoshida out to keep pressure on Urawa|
|Chambers, Delph, Colback win England call-ups|
|Rooney named new England captain|
|Costa in doubt for Everton trip|
|Ross County sack Adams|
|Platini wants more UEFA representatives at World Cup|
|Allardyce hints at big-name signing|
|Platini will not challenge Blatter for FIFA presidency|
|Bruce convinced of qualification|
|Alonso set to swap Madrid for Munich|
|Pochettino to use MK Dons as an example|
|Champions League difficult for Arsenal - Bilic|
|Redknapp takes aim at ´really poor´ QPR|
|MLS Preview: Timbers braced for ´massive´ clash in Vancouver|
|Los Angeles Galaxy 4 DC United 1: Arena´s side show quality|
|Copa Sudamericana Review: River Plate, Libertad among teams to progress|
|CONCACAF Champions League Review: Pachuca in seventh heaven, Leon held|
|LDU Quito 3 Deportivo Quito 0: Hosts earn bragging rights against rivals|
|Johnson calm over future|
|Kiessling hails Leverkusen|
|Benitez: Mistakes cost Napoli Champions League spot|
|K. League Preview: Seoul eyeing winning streak|
|Liga MX Preview: Monterrey looking to build momentum|
|Valverde hails ´historic day´ for Bilbao|
|UEFA Champions League Review: Mixed results for Europe´s big guns, Moti the hero for Ludogorets|
|Atletico announce Velazquez capture|
|Giroud set for lengthy absence - Wenger|
|Holders City handed home clash with Wednesday|
|La Liga Preview: Saul not worried by Simeone absence, Barca face tough Villarreal test|
|Eto´o retires from Cameroon duty|
|Aston Villa 0 Leyton Orient 1: Late Vincelot winner sends underdogs through|
|Birmingham City 0 Sunderland 3: Late strikes stun hosts|
|Arsenal 1 Besiktas 0 (1-0 agg): Alexis strike takes Wenger´s men through|
|Stoke City 3 Portsmouth 0: Walters brace sees hosts into League Cup third round|
|Burton Albion 1 QPR 0: Late strike seals upset for fourth-tier hosts|
|Ligue 1 Preview: Bordeaux look to maintain 100 per cent start|
|Dunga: No one guaranteed a place in Brazil squad|
|Serie A Preview: Juve´s Allegri era starts at Chievo|
|Mazzarri calls for professional Inter|
|Utrecht swoop for Peterson|
|Deeney extends Watford stay|
|Alonso calls time on international career|
|Bundesliga Preview: Schalke captain Howedes issues rallying cry, Leverkusen face Hertha|
|Fazio joins Spurs from Sevilla|
|Warnock will control transfers - Parish|
|Pochettino wants Soldado and Townsend to stay at Spurs|
|Augsburg v Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller returns for wobbling visitors|
|Celtic complete Wakaso deal|
|Seoul 0 Pohang Steelers 0 (aet, 3-0 on penalties): Yu heroics send Seoul through|
|Guangzhou Evergrande 2 Western Sydney Wanderers 1: Wanderers squeeze through on away goals|
|I´m the future, Benatia´s the past - Manolas|
|Osotspa 3 Chiangrai United 3: Visitors secure point with late rally|
|Israel versus Belgium fixture postponed|
|Fernandes reveals Redknapp contract talks|
|Warnock makes Palace return|
|Eto´o grateful to Mourinho|
|Maiga loaned to Metz|
|Pearson rues ´poor´ Leicester display|
|Bruce: Rhodes deal dead and buried|
|Balotelli set to face Tottenham|
|Di Maria wanted Real stay|
|Dyche wary of inflated transfer market|
|Celtic didn´t deserve Champions League, concedes Deila|
|Game of two halves for Koeman|
|Allardyce hails ´inspired´ Howard|
|CONCACAF Champions League Review: Red Bulls up and running, Rodriguez stars for Saprissa|
|Copa Sudamericana Review: Gimenez double helps Emelec through|
|Eredivisie Preview: Guardado set for PSV bow, Ajax eye recovery|
|Van Gaal ´not shocked´ by Dons defeat|
|Deila: Celtic deserved Champions League exit|
|Barca agree deal for Pereira|
|Lopetegui lauds Porto progression|
|League Cup Review: United hammered by MK Dons, West Ham lose on penalties|
|West Brom 1 Oxford United 1 (aet, 7-6 on penalties): Hosts avoid cup shock|
|Manchester United win ´something dreams are made of´ - Robinson|
|UEFA Champions League Review: Celtic out again, Porto safely through|