FC Porto’s UEFA Champions League campaign came to a close after a 1-0 win against Chelsea in the quarter-final second leg. Substitute Mehdi Taremi scored a screamer deep into added time, not enough to overturn a 2-0 deficit from the first leg.
It was always going to be a cautious game in Sevilla with Chelsea defending a healthy advantage. The Blues had little reason to open up and with their defence one of the best in Europe, Porto were always going to be up against it.
Chances were hard to come by in the first half, Mason Mount the first to see his shot deflected wide. A poor pass from Édouard Mendy gave Jesús Corona an opportunity but his shot was deflected wide by Jorginho.
Both teams were well organised defensively, getting back in transition and denying the opposition space.
Chelsea broke free with Pepe blocking a Kai Havertz cross, Porto creating one more chance before the break. Chancel Mbemba’s pass released Corona who got behind Ben Chilwell, his shot sailing high and wide.
The second half was characterised by cynical fouls. Sérgio Oliveira was the first of five Porto players booked after bringing down Christian Pulisic.
Chelsea were finding openings down Porto’s fight flank and created two chances in quick succession. Chilwell found Pulisic unmarked but he couldn’t steer the volley on target, Mount next to have a chance which was blocked by Wilson Manafá.
Sérgio Conceição made his first substitution in the 63rd minute as Marko Grujic made way for Mehdi Taremi. Taremi was immediately in the action but his headed effort was easily saved by Mendy.
Corona was booked before being taken off with Manafá and Moussa Marega. Nanu, Luis Díaz and Evanilson entered the fray.
Porto couldn’t breach Chelsea’s lines before the game came to life in added time. Pulisic saw a great chance saved by Agustín Marchesín before Taremi met Nanu’s cross with a spectacular bicycle kick that sailed into the top corner.
It was too little too late however, and Porto supporters must be wondering why the Iranian striker didn’t start.
The game was as lifeless as the 43,883 empty seats at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuan. It was more fun trying to keep count with how many times Porto fouled Christian Pulisic who was battered from start to finish.
It’s hard to fault either club, Chelsea defending a commanding first leg lead Porto knowing that conceding could be catastrophic.
Porto Exceed Expectations
Porto surprised many by getting to the quarter-finals. They had no problems qualifying behind Man City in Group D with Olympiakos and Marseille proving easy beats, but few thought they could get past Juventus in the round of 16.
The Dragons’ well publicised financial problems has seen the squad continually downgraded. Their budget is well below the clubs fighting for the Champions League title.
Sérgio Conceição might get some criticism for his team selection in the second leg, but in the big picture he did a commendable job against the odds.
Last Club Standing
Porto flew the flag for Portuguese football long after the others had bitten the dust. Sporting CP and Rio Ave failed to reach the Europa League group stage after being eliminated in the play-offs.
Benfica lost to PAOK in the Champions League third qualifying round, joining Braga in the Europa League group stage where both clubs were knocked out in the round of 32.
The attention now turns to a thrilling title race in Portugal where Benfica and Porto chase a Sporting CP side that are undefeated in the Primeira Liga this season.