Porto consolidate new lease of life with 3-1 victory v Farense in the Algarve

Whisper it quietly, but after looking out of sorts for the first half of the 2023/24 campaign, FC Porto are working up a formidable head of steam for the final months of the season.

The Blue and Whites made light work of a tricky-looking fixture in the Algarve, beating Farense 3-1 thanks to a double from the red-hot Evanilson and an Alan Varela goal, with Bruno Duarte scoring for the home side. 

The 1-1 draw at city rivals Boavista at the start of January marked a turning point for the Dragons.

New Year, new system

Since then coach Sérgio Conceição changed the formation, abandoning his preferred 4-4-2 and playing a 4-2-3-1 with two wingers, Wenderson Galeno and Francisco Conceição, and a lone striker up front, Evanilson, in the absence of Mehdi Taremi who is away on international duty with Iran in the Asian Cup.

The change in the setup has proven extremely beneficial both in terms of performance level and results. Porto’s last four matches have yielded four victories and 14 goals, with just one goal conceded in that run.

The visit to Farense was expected to be a stern test of the Dragons’ newfound confidence, José Mota’s team providing tough opposition for all opponents at their São Luís stadium.

And the match could have played out very differently if Elves Baldé’s spectacular 25-yard rocket shot had gone into the net instead of bouncing back into play off the crossbar, or if Matheus Oliveira had converted a penalty in the 34th minute instead of ballooning his spot kick way over the bar.

Porto took control of the match in the ten minutes before half time, scoring twice from two fine finishes by Evanilson and Alan Varela, who made the most of excellent assists from Galeno and Pepê respectively.

The hosts pulled back a goal on the hour mark, converting a penalty after Varela had brought down Matheus Oliveira. Bruno Duarte stepped up and made no mistake.

But Evanilson made sure the three points would be travelling up north with Porto, the Brazilian striker producing a confident right-footed finish after brilliant work by his compatriot Pepê.

Porto move to within one and two points of Lisbon rivals Benfica and Sporting, who play tonight against Estrela da Amadora and Casa Pia respectively.

By Tom Kundert

Farense 1-3 Porto highlights