Rio Ave produced the second big upset in the Primeira Liga this weekend after sensationally defeating Porto 3-1 in Vila do Conde. The promoted club took a 3-0 lead into the break after Aziz scored twice, either side of creating a goal for Pedro Amaral.
Sérgio Conceição made three changes at the break in an attempt to turn the tide, Mehdi Taremi missing a golden chance to close the gap from the penalty spot. The Dragons huffed and puffed but couldn't find a way back against a dogged home side, Toni Martínez’s added time goal far too little too late.
PortGOAL’s Matthew Marshall reports from Estádio dos Arcos.
Rio Ave hold firm
Fábio Ronaldo fired the first warning of the game with his shot tipped wide by Diogo Costa. The pitch appeared heavy and waterlogged in areas, perhaps a deliberate plot to slow down the Dragons’ attack.
Bruno Costa saw his shot blocked before Evanilson fired wide, Porto continually probing around Rio Ave’s 18-yard box. The hosts stood strong and withstood the early pressure before taking the lead in the 22nd minute.
Pepe raced off his line to close down Fábio Ronaldo, the 21-year-old playing it first time to Aziz Yakubu who went through the gap, Iván Marcano unable to recover in time with the Ghanaian striker nonchalantly steering the ball past Diogo Costa.
Rio Ave were doing exactly what is necessary at home in a David vs Goliath clash, showing energy, passion and a high work rate to keep the home crowd on side, Aziz’s opening goal the icing on the cake.
The Vila do Conde club had only just got started however, extending their lead in the 33rd minute. Aziz nutmegged Marcano and raced clear, drilling the ball across the face of goal where Pedro Amaral was left completely unmarked to convert from close range.
Porto’s finishing would be their downfall all evening long in Vila do Conde, Pepê Aquino shooting straight at Jhonathan before a weak Evanilson header provided the Brazilian goalkeeper with a routine save.
Rio Ave were not done and made it 3-0 on the stroke of half-time. Pedro Amaral robbed João Mário, the left back sending a dangerous cross into the box where Aziz got behind Marcano and headed the ball past Costa.
One way traffic
Sérgio Conceição made a triple substitution at the break with Galeno, Gabriel Veron and Toni Martínez replacing João Mário, Bruno Costa and Evanilson.
Pepê replaced Mário at right-back, going on a driving run and playing in Toni Martínez who saw his shot blocked by Aderlan Santos, Porto’s penalty claims denied.
Pepe fired into the side netting after staying up after a set piece as Rio Ave were unable to get out of their own half.
Taremi can't convert against his former club
Zaidu Sanusi’s cross then hit the back Costinha’s arm with the right-back turned away from the ball. Tiago Martins booked Sérgio Conceição on the way to view replays on the touchline monitor before awarding a penalty, Mehdi Taremi slamming it off the woodwork and away from danger.
Marcano flashed a header wide, Gabriel Veron’s shot was saved and a fierce Toni Martínez strike saw Jhonathan tip the ball over the bar.
Luís Freire’s side were under the pump and unable to get out of their own half, the Rio Ave manager making two changes in the 69th minute with Vítor Gomes and Emmanuel Boateng coming on for Amine Oudrhiri and Aziz.
Conceição responded by introducing André Franco for Iván Marcano which saw Mateus Uribe drop into central defence. Galeno was unable to affect the game without open space to run into as Rio Ave continually sat deep.
Paulo Vitor and Ukra replaced Pedro Amaral and Joca in the 83rd minute with Vitor immediately involved, going on a driving run that came to an end when he was taken down by Veron.
Hernâni got a few minutes off the bench, replacing Fábio Ronaldo who got a standing ovation for his efforts.
It was an action-packed eight minutes of added time, André Franco forcing a smart save from Jhonathan before Martínez rose highest to head home Pepê Aquino’s cross.
Galeno couldn’t finish after going on a surging run and Otávio missed a great chance before the home crowd could finally celebrate their first victory against Porto since 2004 after a run of 36 consecutive games without a win.
How quickly things can change
Rio Ave supporters were fuming after the first home game this season, a 1-0 defeat to Vizela where they failed to register a shot on target. They vented their anger towards President António Silva Campos after the final whistle with all the pre-season optimism seemingly going out the window.
It didn’t get much better in a 3-0 defeat to Sporting CP in Lisbon, Luís Freire’s side gaining some much needed confidence with a 2-2 draw at Estoril last week. They brought it back to Vila do Conde where they produced the second big upset in the Primeira Liga this weekend.
Freire has some more options up front with Hernâni & Emmanuel Boateng signed in the transfer window, but it’s going to take something special to oust Fábio Ronaldo and Aziz after this performance.
Three weeks is a long time in football, let's see if Freire can get the same passion and effort out of his side week in week out.
Porto’s struggles on the road continues
Porto got out of jail in Vizela where Iván Marcano’s late header secured a 1-0 victory. Their struggles on the road continued in Vila do Conde where Sérgio Conceição can have no complaints about the 3-1 defeat.
Conceição’s tactics simply don’t appear to be working away from Estádio Do Dragão. His 4-3-1-2 means there is little width, the opposition congesting the middle of the pitch and forcing the Dragons to go wide where it’s only the full-backs providing any real threat.
Regardless of what he does tactically, this defeat is likely to see some personnel changes with the first one obvious.
Conceição has probably been waiting for an excuse to drop Iván Marcano and bring David Carmo into the team, something that will surely happen now. Let’s see what else the Porto boss has in store for the trip to Barcelos next week.