Futebol Clube do Porto
Porto continued their efforts defending their Liga championship as they overcame Vitória de Setúbal 2-0 at Estádio do Dragão on the strength of Lisandro López’ two goals. With the victory Jesualdo Ferreira’s side now heads into the final month of the campaign with a confident four point margin over Sporting.
Os Dragões were without the services of Hulk and former Rapid Bucureşti-man Cristian Săpunaru for the match. The visitors, despite flirting with relegation, clamped down the match perfectly in the opening half and did not allow a noteworthy assault. In-fact the best scoring chance of the half was of the visitors, via none other than Bruno Gama, whose clever effort six minutes before the half forced the best out of Helton. A minute past the hour Porto found the needed goal as Fernando played the ball to Ernesto Farías on the left side of the box and after a quick advance sent the ball to Lisandro López surging into the area. Following a difficult challenge the Argentine international drove the ball in from eleven metres. Only six minutes later the Azuis e brancos clad supporters rose to their feet as Mariano González drove down the right flank, turned near the bye-line before sending a perfect low cross to Lisandro to side foot in for his second of the night. The match concluded without further mark as Porto earned the 2-0 victory.
Os Dragões advance to the finals of Taça de Portugal as they overcame a 2-1 loss to Estrela da Amadora at Estádio do Dragão to win 3-2 in aggregate. Despite the loss the clear memory of the match will be the two breathtaking goals by Estrela da Amadora.
Porto took the lead only four minutes into the match as Freddy Guarín diagonal cross from the left found Lisandro López deep into the six yard box and after a controlling touch, he dispatched to Ernesto Farías for a point-blank range finish. Three minutes after the half-hour mark as was level as Silvestre Varela demonstrated his extraordinary promise chipping to the far side of the box for Rui Varela to head past ‘keeper Nuno. With four minutes remaining Pedro Pereira’s cross into the box was sent to Rui Varela, who with it back to Rolando, who pounded the ball down with his left foot and as it rebounded overhead struck it near the back post for Anselmo to head in for a breathtaking goal. With further mark the match ended 2-1, sending Jesualdo Ferreira’s side to the finals.
Porto opened a four point lead in the championship race over Sporting with a 3-0 defeat of Académica in Coimbra.
Os Dragões displayed early control of the match, although finishing was lacking. Fifteen minutes into the match Hulk’s pinpoint cross from the left into the box was headed just wide by Lisandro López. Only three minutes later frustration continued to buil as Cristian Rodríguez play through perfectly only to be denied by Académica ‘keeper Boris Peškovič. Continuing on the same theme, ten minutes later a Cristian Rodríguez header, via Rolando’s long ball was sent over the ‘keeper and drifted wide. Finally a series of close-misses the Azuis e brancos finally found a way through three minutes before the hour as Mariano González free-kick into the box was headed-in by Rolando. Only two minutes later Lisandro López was brought down in the box by Boris Peškovič and the spot was pointed to. Deciding to take the penalty himself, the striker calmly struck the ball into the back of the net to give Porto the 2-0 lead. After Helton made a brilliant save on Éder with eleven minutes remaining, Mariano González made it 3-0 in the third minute of added time as he turned in Hulk’s cross from the six-yard box.
Porto returns to play next Sunday against Vitória de Setúbal.
Porto’s brilliant Champions League effort came to conclusion as they fell 1-0 to Manchester United at Estádio do Dragão. The lone goal, a knife through the heart for Dragões supporters, came six minutes in when former Porto man Anderson provided Cristiano Ronaldo the ball and with Aly Cissokho closing, the Portuguese captain let loose a unstoppable strike from thirty-five plus metres into the back of the net.
While the visitors flourished early possibly the most crushing blow came thirty-minutes in when Lucho González was stretchered off with knee injury. Fortune was on Porto’s side through the balance of the first half as the English side missed a number of close ranges changes, none more perplexing than Serbian international Nemanja Vidić. The former Crvena zvezda-man turned John O’Shea’s provision over the crossbar in chance he would rarely miss.
Hope flourished for the Azuis e brancos after the break with opportunities slowly opening up. In the later stages Bruno Alves and Rolando both came close via set-pieces and with only a goal needed Porto displayed the resolve that only a champion can understand needed to continue the great run. With five minutes remaining Mariano González finds Lisandro López in point-blank range but his effort falls short and is held-back by ‘keeper Edwin van der Sar.
Time ticked down and as the whistle was heard, the great run in the Champions League ended with a valiant effort that all can be proud of.
While English tabloids gloated with delight when Manchester United was drawn to play Porto calling them the “long-shot”, the so-called “Theater of Dreams” turned into the nightmare for Sir Alex as Porto out-performed them in-route to a 2-2 draw. Disregarding lowering standards of journalism that allowed such unfounded pomp to be released, Porto sits on the cusp of casting Manchester United out of the Champions League once again as the second leg heads to at Estádio do Dragão Wednesday evening. While this match will bring back delightful memories for Dragões supporters of José Mourinho dancing down the touchline after sending Man Utd home disappointed, Porto will once again need to be at their best to advance.
Although history tells us that in the previous last eleven visits of English clubs to Porto, each has returned without a victory, that provides little solace to the Azuis e brancos. Man Utd, with a vision towards an unprecedented collection of hardware, can spring up quickly from their recent problems and need to be dealt with the most careful hand.
Coming off this weekends 3-0 victory over Estrela da Amadora, Porto is fully fit for the match and anxious to repeat the glory of five years ago. Lisandro López and Tomás Costa have returned to Jesualdo Ferreira’s squad although the manager will be serving a one-match touchline ban. Echoing confidence the manager said of his sides approach to the match:
“I said before the game in Manchester that we were very confident and wanted to produce a good performance. We have the same level of confidence a week later.”
“We don’t know how to play in a different way.
“This team can never change its identity.”
Porto continued its winning ways with a thorough 3-0 defeat of Estrela da Amadora at Estádio do Dragão Saturday evening. The victory was not only comprehensive in nature but a well-played chess match by Jesualdo Ferreira who structured his side with a eye towards Wednesdays Champions League battle against Manchester United.
However it was the visitors who first threatened with early efforts of Ney (Santos) and Sporting youth product Silvestre Varela forcing Helton into action. After Ernesto Farías came within a whisper of scoring sixteen minutes in, Portuguese international Bruno Alves made no mistake as struck a perfect dipping free-kick over the wall and into the net. The visitors kept the lid down tight defending and limited scoring chances till then break, excluding a close range effort by Cristian Săpunaru, which the Romanian international pushed off course. After the break Cristian Rodríguez was rested with Hulk coming in and excluding a fast-paced counter proved fruitless the visitors were continuing with a strong defensive performance. Finally three minutes before the hour, the Dragões found their way through with Ernesto Farías doubling the margin from eight metres as he accepted Hulk’s perfect provision. The night wasn’t done for the long-time Estudiantes man Farías as he made it 3-0 eight minutes later be nodding in a deep cross by Bruno Alves into the net. The Argentine should made it 4-0 eight minutes past the hour but he pushed Hulk’s cross off-course from only a few metres out. That withstanding the picture perfect match concluded without further incident and Porto winning 3-0.
In 1955 British auto racing legend Sterling Moss won the Mille Miglia, a remarkable open-road 1,000 “Roman” mile race in Italy in the the record time of 10 hours, 7 minutes and 47 seconds. The race hasn’t been run in over forty years yet the event lives on in infamy with enthusiasts of the roadster. Quick review of those numbers reveal a stunning 157.65 km/h average for over ten hours and for classic motor sports enthusiasts it is remembered for both Mr. Moss’ aggressive tactics but also the intelligent planning of his navigator. One of the key ingredients to their success was his navigator, Denis Jenkinson, unfurling a long scroll of diagrams and navigational instruction as they raced through the countryside from Bresia to Rome and back. Of motor sport legends, Mr. Moss and magnificent piece of machinery, Mercedes 300 SLR, rank in hushed tones.
In an odd twist of fate, Dragões manager Jesualdo Ferreira is in desperate need of such navigational ability as he makes his way through a complex stretch of matches. Following Porto’s stunning draw against Manchester United in the Champions League, they sit on the verge of upsetting the heavy favourites when the second leg comes to Estádio do Dragão this Wednesday. However prior to that affair, Porto must address domestic play and cannot afford giving up points in their tight battle to ward off Sporting. Sitting first in the table their narrow four point lead over Lisbon rivals provides little cushion, thus making Estrela da Amadora visit to Estádio do Dragão Saturday evening a tricky situation.
Whist the Porto manager has both Lisandro López, Tomás Costa, Nelson Benítez and Jorge Fucile out of the squad list, he is likely to ease back on the throttle just a morsel and use Ernesto Farías and Andrés Madrid in the starting eleven. Following the match of-course there will be no reason to shift down as its straight-ahead against Man Utd.
Old Trafford, often referred to as the “Theater of Dreams” (Teatro dos sonhos), reminded Dragões supporters far and wide of the beautiful memories of five years ago when José Mourinho was the architect of the destruction of Manchester United as they held the English side to a 2-2 draw in the opening leg of their Champions League tie. With the draw and the all important two “away” goals Porto is in a very favourable position for the return engagement next Wednesday at Estádio do Dragão.
The match begin with Porto seizing the opportunity to teach the overconfident Manchester United a lesson in front of their home grounds. While the English media had pressed their noses high in the air the moment the draw was announced and referred to Porto as a “long shot” and an “also-ran” with high odds, the “long shot” came in big.
As traveling fans clad in Azuis e brancos sung out, Porto quickly hushed critics who called them long-shots. Swarming in a passionate high-energy display led to the first goal only four minutes in. After a poor pass from former Sporting man Cristiano Ronaldo was intercepted, Lucho González attempted to cross into the box however his effort was blocked by Jonny Evans. However his clearance immediately came to Cristian Rodríguez, who moved to the defenders right before driving the ball past Edwin van der Sar to make it 1-0. Up by one, the Dragões swarmed a bewildered Man Utd but at the fifteenth minute disaster struck resulting in Wayne Rooney squaring the match up. A simple pass from Aly Cissokho was played to Bruno Alves, who then looked to pass back to ‘keeper Helton. However much to the Portugal international’s disappointment, he provided Rooney the ball to which he easily plunked the ball into the net. Through the balance of the half Porto continued to dominate with Fernando living up to his vast potential in the midfield and Hulk continuing to shine in the attack.
The second half began with a significantly more up tempo Man Utd. Pushing the ball, the hosts were looking for the opening but still they could not break down Jesualdo Ferreira’s tactical plan. However with five minutes remaining Gary Neville’s throw in was delicately flicked by Wayne Rooney to a surging Carlos Tévez, who sent the ball in. However a minute from time, the curtain came crashing down for Man Utd at the “Theater of Dreams” as Lisandro López sent a cross to the back post to Mariano González, who after controlling the ball, sent the ball in to end the perfect evening with 2-2 draw.
Ahead of Os Dragões Champions League match against Manchester United at Old Trafford, their long-term leader Sir Alex Ferguson is leaving little doubt of wanting payback for the 2004 loss to Porto. Recalling the 2004 Champions League when Porto, then led by José Mourinho, defeated Man Utd 3-2 in aggregate, Sir Alex Ferguson is looking for a emphatic victory before returning to the Estádio do Dragão for the second leg.
Manchester United is likely to be without England international Rio Ferdinand along while elder statesman Ryan Giggs is questionable. Sir Alex said of the lineup decisions:
“I don’t think any of the injured players will be back against Porto. But we do have the suspended players back which is good. ‘Vida’ will play alongside Jonny Evans at the back with John O’Shea moving to right-back.
“(Wayne) Rooney and (Paul) Scholes are also available which will give us a bit more penetration and experience, and Park (Ji-Sung) will also be ready so I’ve got some good options for Tuesday. I’ll have to assess how Ryan is after playing the 90 minutes against Villa. It’s a big ask for someone at 35 years of age to play another game two days later at the kind of level we play.
“We’ve done the work on Porto. I’ve watched DVDs of their last six matches. Also they beat Arsenal 2-0 this season and played very well that day. Lisandro Lopez is a finisher, a real striker. I’m very mindful of the last time we met. It will be a difficult tie.”
Os Dragões continued on their championship run with a 3-1 come from behind victory over Vitória de Guimarães 3-1. With seven weeks remaining in the Liga campaign, Porto holds a four point advantage over nearest rival Sporting.
With an eye towards Tuesday’s Champions League clash against Manchester United, Porto manager Jesualdo Ferreira kept Lucho González and Cristian Rodríguez out of the starting eleven assignments. After early efforts by Ernesto Farías and Hulk were denied by Guimarães veteran ‘keeper Nilson (Corrêia Júnior), Manuel Cajuda’s side took the lead at the nineteenth minute. In a clever run up of play (Carlos) Milhazes, on loan from Romania’s FC Timişoara, crossed into the box for Roberto to flick into the netting to take the 1-0 lead. The lead stood without further threat from Porto until seven minutes after the break. From the corner Aly Cissokho withstood challenges of Guimarães defenders before supplying the ball to Raul Meireles. The Portuguese international set a pin-point cross to the far post to which Ernesto Farías nodded in. Now level Porto surged for the winner and only six minutes later Mariano González supplied it as he flicked on a Tomás Costa effort sent into the box to make it 2-1. Well in control of the run of play Guimarães were barely a threat and with three minutes remaining Rolando added his name to the score-sheet via a corner as he rose high to powerfully head the ball in and bring the match to a 3-1 final.
Porto returns to action this Tuesday as they face Manchester United at Old Trafford.