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Thursday, 21 August 2014 16:48

Porto take big step towards Champions League groups

Lille 0-1 FC Porto

herrera-celebs-20140821.jpgPorto beat Lille 1-0 in France yesterday in the first leg of the Champions League play-off match. A second-half goal from Mexican midfielder Héctor Herrera put the Dragons in a strong position to join Benfica and Sporting in this season’s group stage of the world’s greatest club competition.
 
 
The strength of Porto’s personnel this season was shown in the fact that players of the calibre of Evandro, Tello, Ricardo Quaresma and Adrián López were left on the bench, while Quintero was not even in the squad.

Young midfielder Ruben Neves retained his place in the side after his dream debut against Marítimo last Friday, so becoming the youngest ever Portuguese to play in the Champions League, beating Cristiano Ronaldo’s record.
 
It was not particularly pretty, but Porto put in a professional performance to run out deserved winners in a match of few chances. The visitors dominated practically the whole match, save a 15-minute spell before half time. Lille forward Corchia must still be wondering how he missed his side’s golden chance, lifting the ball over the bar from just six yards out seconds before the interval.
 
It proved a costly miss. On the hour mark Porto substitute Tello whipped over an inviting cross, Jackson Martínez’s close-range header was well saved by Lille goalkeeper Enyeama, but Herrera was no hand to knock in the rebound.
 

Maicon, Sandro and Neves stand out

Porto never looked in real danger of conceding their lead, with Maicon and Alex Sandro in particular outstanding in defence, while Ruben Neves continues to impress in midfield, one outrageous piece of skill in the second half demonstrating his brimming confidence.
 
Coach Julen Lopetegui was naturally delighted with the result, but warned that there was still work to do to finish the job.
 
“We knew the importance of this match and we were focused and played a good game. Nothing is decided yet. Lille are a tough team and last season almost stole second place from Monaco. We have only finished the first half.”

by Tom Kundert 
 
Lille:
Enyeama, Béria, Basa, Kjaer, Souaré, Balmont (Marcos Lopes, 62), Gueye, Mavuba, Corchia, Kalou (Roux, 76), Origi (Ryan Mendes, 70).
 
Porto:
Fabiano, Danilo, Maicon, Martins Indi, Alex Sandro, Casemiro, Rúben Neves (Evandro, 74), Herrera, Brahimi (Tello, 60), Óliver Torres (Quaresma, 89), Jackson
 
Goals:
[0-1] Herrera, 61’
 
  
 
Comments (4)
Big Win
4 Saturday, 23 August 2014 17:52
NJ/USA/SLB
Great job by Porto. As much as I was concerned about the opponent, it was great that Porto got matched up against Lille. Should Porto advance, it will put three Portuguese Clubs in the CL Group Stages, while France will only have two.
Netting that away goal with the clean sheet is huge. Hopefully they'll go through easily.

On a side note, the Quaresma situation is getting interesting. Apparently he might have started to pull his "normal" antics, which is not only keeping him form playing but also off the bench.
Quaresma has already gone to the Social Media to reiterate his love for the club, so we'll see where the fans will stand. More importantly, how will the manager continue to handle the situation.
Portuguese born players
3 Friday, 22 August 2014 13:02
Antonio/USA
WOW Porto, you sub Neves and are left with ZERO Portuguese on the field. ZERO. What a joke!
Alex Sandro & Danilo
2 Friday, 22 August 2014 05:56
Michael/USA
Kind of off-topic from the game , but glad to see them two getting called up to the national team again. Both are great players and have been above average since joining Porto.
Thanks Tom
1 Friday, 22 August 2014 04:46
Chris/Canada
Glad somebody is pointing out Maicon's performance. He was man of the match for me. He essentially held down the back line with his positioning, tackling, marking and aerial dominance. I've always preferred him to Otamendi (and even Mangala as he is less error prone), so I am glad to see him back in charge.

Martins Indi proved quite capable as well, though Alex Sandro keeps earning his title as best LB in the Liga. Tello was a super-sub and has a great reading of the game.

Ruben Neves is also proving very impressive. His positioning, passing and vision are astounding for his age. Hopefully he keeps it up and develops into another star.

Brahimi looks like a wizard although he was not as good as the first Liga game against Maritimo. Quaresma is already the centre of new controversy. I hope he keeps his ego in check and can be a key member of the team, since he is after all, the captain.

Overall, good result for us. I'd also like to point out that Marcos Lopes was subbed in late in the game for Lille and looked threatening. He was fearless in attack and created some decent chances with his passes and touches. There are rumours that the Brazilians are trying to poach him from us so I hope Paulo Bento starts calling this kid up to the seniors to nullify that.

Cheers.