Primeira Liga Review: Sporting held in opener, Vitoria win
Sporting finished runners-up to Benfica in Portugal's top flight last term under the stewardship of Leonardo Jardim.
However, Jardim departed the club in June to take the vacant position at Ligue 1 outfit Monaco, while utility man Eric Dier also left to join Tottenham.
Several other stars including William Carvalho and Marcos Rojo have also been linked with a move away from Estadio Jose Alvalade.
It looked as though Sporting would have some respite in Marco Silva's league debut as head coach when Andre Carrillo put the visitors into a 1-0 lead after 15 minutes at Estadio Efapel.
However, the visitors were reduced to 10 men in the 66th minute when Carvalho was dismissed for a second bookable offence.
Sporting looked destined to hold on to their slender advantage, but their hopes were dashed in second-half injury time when Rafael Lopes levelled for the hosts.
In Saturday's other encounter, a double from Hernani helped Vitoria Guimaraes win 3-1 at Gil Vicente.
Bernard Mensah was also on the scoresheet for the visitors, while Evaldo bagged a late consolation for Gil Vicente.