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Friday, 08 March 2013 23:03

Fast start gets Porto back on winning track

FC Porto 2-0 Estoril Praia

Maiconcelebs.jpegPorto responded positively to their stalemate against rivals Sporting last week as two goals in the opening 15 minutes from Maicon and Jackson got the Dragons back to winning ways against Estoril.

With the tasty Champions League round of 16 second leg versus Málaga on the horizon, Porto were happy to slow the pace of the match once ahead but that didn’t come without problems as Estoril enjoyed more possession than most visiting teams to the Dragão.

Lightning start

James Rodriguez was handed his first start in nearly two months, a clear attempt by Vitor Pereira to instil confidence in the young Colombian, and it paid off as his 4th minute corner was powerfully converted by a Maicon header to put the hosts ahead.

Estoril coach Marco Silva’s game plan had already gone wrong, and things got worse for the visitors when Mano was flagged for a handball in his own box. Jackson made no mistake from the spot as he sent Vagner the wrong way to easily convert the penalty.

Vitor Pereira remained upbeat with his squad during midweek interviews, trying to ease any pressure after Sporting fought for a well deserved draw last round which cost FC Porto their league lead. Buoyed by the home support, the coach’s psychological preparation for the game seemed to pay rich dividends as Porto’s storming start was rewarded with a 2-0 lead.

With nothing left to lose, Marco Silva pushed his men forward and it almost paid off minutes later when Lica nearly pounced on a sloppy Nicolás Otamendi back pass, but a sprinting Helton managed to clear the ball from his area.
Estoril provided another scare 10 minutes prior to the interval when a beautifully struck free kick from Eduardo smacked off the upright from 25 yards out. The half would run out with neither side threatening goal again.

Early Subs with Málaga in mind

Unsurprisingly, Porto continued their slow pace at the start of the second half, which Estoril took advantage of by winning successive corner kicks, albeit to no avail.

Vitor Pereira played his first hand with a double substitution before the hour mark that saw James Rodríguez and Lucho González retire early for the night. El Comandante seemed to have a slight limp on his way off, a possible reason for the early switch.

Goalkeeper Helton also had an injury scare after a great punched clearance lead to an awkward landing injuring his right hip. Fabiano was sent to warm up on the sidelines but Porto’s custodian was able to continue.

The majority of the second half was midfield possession from Porto, rarely sending more than five attackers into the final third. Castro and Atsu almost converted for goals, but Vagner held his ground well for the visitors.

The victory places Porto on 56 points and guarantees 1st position for 48 hours at least, with Benfica hosting Gil Vicente on Sunday night.

FC Porto:
Helton, Danilo, Maicon, Otamendi, Sandro, Lucho [Castro 56’], Fernando, Defour [Izmaylov 73’], James [Varela 56’], Jackson, Atsu.

Vagner, Mano, Steven Vitória, Yohan Tavares, Jefferson, Gonçalo [Gerso 76’], Evandro, Diogo Amado [Luis Leal 57’], Carlos Eduardo, Licá, Carlitos [Tony Taylor 76’].

[1-0] Maicon 4’
[2-0] Jackson 14’

by Simon de Sousa
Comments (4)
4 Sunday, 10 March 2013 15:45
Moutinho is currently the best central midfielder there is
Everyone else needs to step up if moutinho can't play
3 Saturday, 09 March 2013 15:42
What killed Malaga last game was the constant pressure on the ball. They weren't able to breathe, and their best players such as isco, were shut out of the action for the most part.

I really hope we go hard for that goal early. Playing for a draw seems like a disaster waiting to happen.
2 Saturday, 09 March 2013 14:47
Thinks look complicated for the dragons. Moutino is wounded, James looked to still be nursing a wound, Lucho should be fine as should Helton, but going into Spain will not be easy. Porto need more depth, and may lose out on some victories this season as a result.
Joao Moutinho
1 Saturday, 09 March 2013 04:43
Will he play against malaga?

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