Sporting sack Paulo Sergio
© AFP

Struggling Portuguese football giants Sporting sacked coach Paulo Sergio today after a series of poor results and replaced him with Jose Couceiro until the end of the season.

Sporting are currently third in the title race, 23 points adrift of leaders Porto and 15 behind bitter city rivals Benfica and the last straw came on Thursday when the 18-time domestic champions were knocked out of the UEFA Europa League by Scottish champions Rangers.

"Sporting have reached agreement with coach Paulo Sergio to terminate his contract," read a club statement. The Sporting board said that it had had no option but to act.

The board acknowledges the commitment and competence of Paulo Sergio... but in light of poor results, it was imperative that we do something.
Felipe Nobre Guedes, Sporting board member

"The board acknowledges the commitment and competence of Paulo Sergio... but in light of poor results, it was imperative that we do something," said board member Felipe Nobre Guedes.

Sergio, who last April signed a two-year contract, said he was saddened to leave. "It is with a sad heart that I leave the club," he said. "I would have loved Sporting to be champions [they won the last of their titles in 2002]. That was my ambition when I accepted the job."

Couceiro, a former Porto coach and sports director of Sporting, will take his place in the dugout for the first time in tomorrow's league match with Nacional in Madeira.