Porto’s Champions League campaign is in disarray after a disastrous 4-0 defeat against Club Brugge. Ferran Jutglà won and converted a penalty in the 15th minute before Pepê Aquino missed a great chance to equalise.
The Belgian champions capitalised and ended the contest seven minutes into the second half after Kamal Sowah and Andreas Skov Olsen found the net. Antonio Nusa completed the rout in the 89th minute, sealing a sensational victory for Carl Hoefkens and his side.
PortuGOAL’s Matthew Marshall reports from Estádio Do Dragão.
Poor penalty to concede
Porto created the first two opportunities at the Dragão, Galeno dragging his shot wide and Evanilson unable to connect from close range. João Mário then broke clear from a Club Brugge free kick but couldn’t find the top corner.
The home crowd were shocked when the visitors took the lead in the 15th minute.
It was a routine ball that Pepe failed to nullify, João Mário coming across to deal with the threat posed by Ferran Jutglà and clumsily clattering into the striker. Referee Anastasios Sidiropoulos pointed to the spot, Jutglà stepping up and making no mistake.
Porto had a great chance to equalize in the 23rd minute after executing a slick team move. Otávio combined with Evanilson before releasing Pepê Aquino, but the Brazilian couldn’t convert a 1 on 1 opportunity with Simon Mignolet getting smothering his shot.
João Mário’s poor pass then gifted Kamal Sowah a chance, comfortably saved by Diogo Costa with the angle too tight. The crowd were getting increasingly restless, Hans Vanaken dragging his shot wide and Andreas Skov Olsen forcing a save from Costa to close out the half.
Game over before the hour mark
Sergio Conceição made two changes at the break as heavy rain streamed into the stadium. João Mário was replaced by Toni Martínez with Pepê moving to right-back, Danny Namaso coming on for Evanilson.
The changes made little difference however, especially to Porto’s defence which was looking increasingly porous and nervous with the ball. Within seven second half minutes the game was over.
Jutglà showed great strength to hold the ball up and release Sowah who slotted the ball past Costa. Bjorn Meijer’s cross then evaded everyone except Skov Olsen who finished at the back post.
The fans’ fury had been replaced by silence.
Brugge hungry for more
Club Brugge were toying with Porto who were looking visibly rattled and out of ideas. Conceição made two substitutions in the 62nd minute, Gonçalo Borges and Gabriel Veron on for Galeno and Otávio.
Martínez fired wide under heavy pressure from Abakar Sylla, the defender who had picked up a yellow card in the first half immediately replaced by Dedryck Boyata.
Roman Yaremchuk replaced Skov Olsen before Meijer and Jutglà made way for Eduard Sobol and Antonio Nusa. Wendell came on for Sanusi in the 76th minute.
David Carmo was booked for a late challenge on Nusa with Brugge going close from the resulting free kick. Casper Nielsen’s delivery was met by Yaremchuk, his header too close to Costa who was able to repel the danger.
Wendell was trying hard to get involved, his cross finding Danny Namaso who forced a reaction save from Mignolet.
Club Brugge were not done destroying Porto’s defence however. Raphael Onyedika found himself completely free and hit the post before the visitors deservedly made it 4-0 in the 89th minute.
David Carmo was the next member of Porto's backline to fall asleep, allowing Antonio Nusa to break clear, the 17-year-old latching onto Nielsen’s through ball and beating Costa.
Credit Club Brugge
Much of the focus will be on Porto losing the match in embarrassing fashion, but Club Brugge deserve credit for executing a well organised game plan including an effective high press. They have a number of top quality players including Andreas Skov Olsen, Hans Vanaken and Ferran Jutglà.
Kamal Sowah roamed across the front line, was dangerous throughout and never looked like missing when scoring their second goal.
After beating Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 in Brugge, the Belgian champions sit three points clear at the top of Group B.
Carl Hoefkens is enjoying an extremely positive start to his first job as head coach after spending three years as an assistant to Philippe Clement and Alfred Schreuder. His tactics were a big reason why his side came away with a memorable victoryand he is clearly a manager with a bright future.
Porto under the pump
Sergio Conceição made four changes to the team that won 3-0 against Chaves. Zaidu Sanusi, Pepe, Otávio & Evanilson returned to the starting side, Toni Martínez on the bench with Mehdi Taremi suspended.
Taremi’s unavailability is obviously a huge blow, the Iranian striker leads the way up front with his clever hold up play, interactions with teammates and scoring ability.
Pepê Aquino started next to Evanilson in attack, a decision that didn’t pay off. I’m not sure what Pepê’s best position is, but it’s not up front and it’s not in defence. We are seeing Conceição revert to the situation he created with Jesús Corona, namely a winger who can’t defend playing at right-back.
The 4-0 defeat is among Porto’s largest at home in European competitions and sits alongside the 5-0 defeat to Liverpool in 2018, 4-1 defeat to the Reds in 2019 and 5-1 loss to Liverpool last season, all under Conceição’s watch.
The loss was reminiscent of the recent 3-1 defeat against Rio Ave which was marred by individual errors in defence and sloppy finishing.
We saw Conceição make changes after that defeat in Vila do Conde and we will surely see more now, starting with more game time for Gabriel Veron, less for Pepê and the reintroduction of Marko Grujic in midfield.
The Dragons have a very tough run of fixtures until the end of October, including home games against Braga and Benfica in the Primeira Liga. With Champions League away games in Leverkusen and Brugge on the horizon, there is a real possibility their hopes of reaching the knockout rounds could already be over when they host Atletico Madrid on November 1st.