Porto put their recent struggles behind them with a convincing 4-1 win against Braga at Estádio do Dragão. Mehdi Taremi was simply sensational and provided more evidence of why is the Dragons’ most important player.
Sérgio Conceição is close to finding consistency after navigating his way through a poor run of form that saw his side lose three of six matches before the international break.
Braga’s unbeaten run couldn’t last forever and despite fighting back after the break, it was a useful lesson for Artur Jorge and his side.
The Warriors will dust themselves off before continuing their fight for a top 3 spot in the Primeira Liga.
Porto bounce back
Porto went into the international break with two wins in six games. They suffered three defeats in that run, including an embarrassing 4-0 loss at home to Club Brugge in the Champions League.
The break appears to have been beneficial for Sérgio Conceição and his side. They looked hungry and determined at the Dragão, constantly suffocating Braga with an effective high press with their attack firing on all cylinders.
Two quick fire goals initiated by Mehdi Taremi gave them a 2-0 lead that was halved after the break, but Taremi assisted Pepê eight minutes later and a late flurry after Matheus was sent off saw Galeno score to make it a margin reflective of the qualify of chances created.
Stephen Eustáquio is a starter
Stephen Eustáquio was the main beneficiary of Porto’s 3-1 defeat at Rio Ave. One of Sérgio Conceição’s inevitable changes after the defeat in Vila do Conde, the signs were positive after the midfielder registered two assists in his first start at Gil Vicente.
The Canadian still has to show more consistency, but the signs were extremely positive after he displayed quick thinking and skill to assist Evanilson for the opener. The 25-year-old timed his run to perfection to steer in the second, his debut goal for Porto in 21 appearances.
Eustáquio was expected to be a squad player after sealing a €3.5m permament move from Paços de Ferreira in the summer transfer window. After starting in Porto’s last six games and producing his best against Braga, he is now settled next to Mateus Uribe and currently filling the void left by Vitinha.
Sérgio Conceição close to settling on his first choice starting side
Sérgio Conceição has had to adjust his side this season, particularly after defeats at Rio Ave, Atletico Madrid and against Club Brugge.
He took some time in introducing David Carmo next to Pepe in central defence, largely due to Iván Marcano scoring in Porto’s opening two Primeira Liga matches.
João Mário displayed defensive deficiencies which saw Pepê get some time at right-back. Wilson Manafá’s lengthy return from a patella rupture saw Conceição start his son Rodrigo in Porto’s last two matches.
The 22-year-old has held his own and was involved in instigating two great chances against Braga, the second resulting in Pepê’s goal. He is growing in confidence and should see more playing time.
Sérgio Conceição has stuck with Pepê and was finally rewarded after an influential performance against Braga. The Brazilian has played up front, out wide, in midfield and at right-back this season, but afforded freedom to operate behind the strikers appears to be his most effective position.
Otávio is on the verge of returning to full fitness which means we should start to see stability with Conceição’s starting side which can provide a platform for consistency.
Mehdi Taremi on fire
Mehdi Taremi has come under plenty of fire for going down easy, especially after he was sent off for diving in the 2-1 defeat at Atletico Madrid. He has gone a long way to shifting the narrative back to what he can do when he remains on his feet.
The Iranian striker outmuscled Fabiano and outbattled Matheus to instigate Porto’s opening goal. He then broke clear and released Pepê who set up Estáquio for the second, and could have had an assist after teeing up Bruno Costa who was denied by Matheus.
Taremi finally got the assist his performance deserved, nutmegging Vítor Tormena before finding Pepê who finished into an open net to restore the Dragons’ two goal advantage.
The 30-year-old took the ball around Matheus which saw Braga’s goalkeeper sent off in the 83rd minute. He them missed a 1 on 1 opportunity against Tiago Sá before providing a great chance for Zaidu Sanusi.
There is little doubt Taremi is currently Porto’s best and most influential player, something he confirmed in a man of the match performance.
Braga finally beaten
Braga came into the game unbeaten in nine matches this season and were coming off eight straight wins. The brought plenty of confidence to Porto but couldn’t get anywhere near Diogo Costa in the opening 30 minutes
They appeared nervous at the Dragão and were not able to play their way out of Porto’s press. Artur Jorge’s side were frustrated with and without the ball in the first half where Iuri Medeiros, Fabiano and Nuno Sequeira were booked.
Medeiros missed an open goal from a difficult angle on the stroke of half-time but it wasn’t enough to impress Jorge who made three substitutions at the break; Víctor Gómez, Uros Račić and Abel Ruiz introduced for Fabiano, Medeiros and Simon Banza.
The changes did the trick with Braga getting a foothold in the contest, Ricardo Horta rattling the bar from long distance and frequently combining with the impressive Gómez. Both players instigated the move which saw Pepe’s own goal reduce the deficit.
Braga continued to press forward immediately after regaining possession, but it was unsustainable especially after Porto made it 3-1, the Warriors reverting to the side that looked nervous and repeatedly gave the ball away in the first half.
Regardless of the defeat, it was pleasing to see Artur Jorge be proactive and make three changes at the break, all of which made an impact. Braga’s start to the season has been sensational and they can look forward to a relatively easy run of fixtures leading up to the World Cup break.