Porto overcame a spiritied Estoril side at Estádio do Dragão, winning 3-2 in a matcg where they took the lead on three occasions.

Marko Grujic opened the scoring early on but the floodgates failed to open, Tiago Gouveia equalising out of nowhere in the 27th minute.

André Franco restored the lead against his former club before the visitors pegged Porto back once again, Francisco Geraldes restoring parity from the spot after Pepe handled the ball.

Sérgio Conceição brought Galeno and Mehdi Taremi off the bench, both players combining to win a penalty that Taremi converted which keeps Porto’s faint Primeira Liga title hopes alive.

The victory was vital for the Dragons who immediately turn their attention to hosting Inter Milan on Tuesday, the Italian club holding a 1-0 advantage in the Champions League Round of 16.

Solid start points to a big Porto win

Estoril were chasing the ball from the opening whistle, Marko Grujić driving a shot wide before getting into a tussle with Cassiano which saw the midfielder booked.

Grujić wouldn’t have to wait long for another chance which he took in the 9th minute. André Franco’s corner was directed towards the back post by Toni Martínez, Daniel Figueira unable to keep the Serbian’s close range header out of the net.

Estoril equalise

Porto were playing with Estoril like a cat plays with a mouse, but out of nowhere the visitors equalised in the 27th minute.

Tiago Gouveia’s initial shot was blocked, João Carvalho’s clever pass finding Gouveia who got behind the Dragons’ defence and slotted the ball past a helpless Diogo Costa.

Francisco Geraldes wasn’t far away from catching Costa out from the halfway line, but any momentum Estoril had earned was eliminated in the 31st minute.

Franco involved in both boxes

Zaidu Zanusi’s cross wasn’t cleared, Danny Namaso’s shot deflected off the post by Figueira, the ball rebounding straight to André Franco who scored against his former club.

Estoril had another chance when Geraldes drove into the box and lost the ball, Franco’s hesitation providing Gouveia with another opportunity that was blocked by Fábio Cardoso.

Sérgio Conceição brought on Mateus Uribe for Marko Grujic at half time, his side starting the second half on fire with Zanusi heavily involved.

João Mário picked up an injury that he couldn’t shake off, Conceição bringing on his son Rodrigo at right back.

Porto pegged back again

Porto were unable to turn their dominance into meaningful attempts on goal however, and paid the price in the 66th minute when Estoril drew level once again.

Pepe was unlucky to have handled João Carvalho’s cross at close range, Geraldes stepping up and sending Costa the wrong way before a cheeky celebration in front of the Super Dragões caused a minor fracas.

Substitutes make the difference

Conceição immediately introduced Galeno and Mehdi Taremi for Eustáquio and Martínez, both players combining to win a penalty within minutes of coming onto the pitch.

Galeno combined with Taremi who was taken out by Mexer, the Iranian striker showing no hesitation from the spot to give Porto their third lead of the evening.

Late scare

Estoril came home strong and went close to equalizing in the 89th minute. Geraldes’ free kick was punched away by Costa, Gouveia sending the ball back into the box where João Gamboa steered the ball narrowly wide of the post.

Gouveia shot straight at the thankful goalkeeper before Geraldes received a second yellow card in added, Otávio milking the foul for all it was worth before the serial irritator antagonised Estoril’s bench.

Porto get over the line

This match was always an hors d'oeuvre before the sold out main course on Tuesday when Sérgio Conceição’s side attempt to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Inter Milan in the Champions League Round of 16.

That game, alongside a cold, wet Friday evening and many expecting another beatdown at the Dragão, explains a poor turnout of just over 29,000 spectators.

The walk in the park didn’t come to fruition however, Francisco Geraldes and Tiago Gouveia inspiring Estoril who went close to claiming a dramatic point.

Conceição will immediately move on and be thankful that he was able to bring Galeno and Mateus Uribe off the bench, both players key to his system and likely to be in his starting side against the Inter.

Fábio Cardoso returned from injury at the right time, starting next to Pepe with Iván Marcano suspended. Otávio will miss the second leg through suspension.

Pinto da Costa defends Conceição’s silence

Sérgio Conceição failed to front the media for the second straight match, after deciding not to appear at the pre-match or post-match press conferences in the 3-1 victory in Chaves.

He immediately went down the tunnel after the final whistle against Estoril, continuing to complete the obligatory post-match flash interviews.

His willingness to front the cameras probably saved the club a considerable amount of cash after Porto were fined 10,200 euros after players didn’t appear in the post-match flash interview in Chaves.

The standoffs are due to a complaint by the Portuguese Association of Arbitrators de Futebol (APAF) to the Disciplinary Board of the FPF for statements Conceição made about VAR after the 2-1 home defeat against Gil Vicente.

President of Porto, Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa, after the defeat against Gil Vicente, said: “Given the performances of the VAR today and the VAR in Vizela (Benfica’s 2-0 win), I make a request: put an end to the video referee. Having VAR for some and not for others makes sense contrary to the truth of the game”.

At a recent announcement for renewing the sponsorship with Super Bock, Pinto da Costa said: “I don't comment on APAF. I don't usually pronounce on ridiculous issues. I think Sérgio Conceição, silent, makes a good speech”.

By Matthew Marshall at Estádio do Dragão


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