FC Porto 2-1 Juventus
Porto beat perennial Italian champions Juventus 2-1 at the Estádio do Dragão tonight thanks to early goals in each half by Mehdi Taremi and Moussa Marega.
The Dragons were in control for most of the match and for a period looked more likely to go further ahead than concede a goal, but Federico Chiesa’s late strike leaves the tie in the balance ahead of the second leg in Turin.
Porto had never beaten Juventus in five previous meetings between the two clubs, the best result being a draw, but Sérgio Conceição’s men were good value for the win in this first leg of the Champions League round-of-16 encounter.
The hosts could not have got off to a better start as high pressing paid off with just 61 seconds on the clock. In-form Iranian striker Mehdi Taremi took full advantage of a mix-up between Rodrigo Bentancur and goalkeeper Szczesny to pounce and give Porto the lead.
The rest of the first half was a cagey affair with few chances, but the second half - just like the first - began in explosive style. A wonderful move between Jesús Corona, Manafá and Marega ending with the Malian striker cooling finishing to double Porto’s lead. Just 20 seconds had elapsed since the referee whistled to begin the second half!
With Juventus in some disarray Porto could have scored a third as Sérgio Oliveira embarked on a run all the way into the Juventus box and shot powerfully, but the effort was too close to Szczesny who kept it out with his legs.
The Italians at last began to mount some concerted pressure to try and avoid a damaging defeat although Marchesín was largely untroubled as Porto’s defence held firm until the 82nd minute, when Chiesa finished a sweeping break with a fine first-time shot into the corner of the net. In the final seconds Cristiano Ronaldo, who had a quiet night, had a strong appeal for a penalty turned down but it would have been unjust to deny the Portuguese side a thoroughly merited victory.
Sérgio Conceição, Porto coach
“We went ahead early but it wasn’t by chance. It was something we had worked on, pressuring the opponents high up the pitch. The players interpreted our plan perfectly. The first goal was important, but we continued to be a very organised team, whether in a high block or a low block. We hindered Rabiot, who is a very important player and has a lot of influence in their construction.
“The players played a fantastic game, they implemented everything we had planned and they are the ones who earned this victory.
“Juventus only had a dangerous effort on 70 minutes, and we’re talking about the Italian champions, a very strong team, with above-average individual talents, among the best in the world. We could have made it 3-0 on a fast break by Sérgio Oliveira, who did well to create the chance himself, and given the solidity of our performance it was a bitter pill to concede the goal.
“Our Champions League now is on Monday against Marítimo, an authentic final for us. The week after we host leaders Sporting and we want to reopen the championship (race) in Madeira.”
by Tom Kundert