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Saturday, 12 May 2012 19:26

Powerful Porto crush Rio Ave to end season on high

Rio Ave 2-5 Porto

kleber-crodriguez-celebrate.jpgIn a game that served more as a celebration for Porto’s title win than any other purpose, the champions crushed their opposition with a 5-2 victory against Rio Ave at the Estadio dos Arcos on Saturday evening.

The Dragons began the game with an altered starting XI as Bracali, Kléber, Djalma, Eliquim Mangala, Rolando, Alvaro Pereira, and Danilo all started the match for the Northern side.

The visitors began the game, in style, with a goal. James Rodríguez’s broke up field and picked out Djalma with a long and curling pass. With no one but Huanderson in front of him, the Angolan made no mistake and slotted past the keeper.

Minutes later, Porto doubled their advantage when a wonderful team play culminated in Silveste Varela finding James in a frontal position with a tricky pass. The Colombian continued to make his influence felt in the game and added to his assist with a goal.

When it looked as if the visitors had gained complete control over their opposition, Mangala took João Tomás down in the box and a penalty was awarded by referee Joao Ferreira. The veteran hit-man stepped up to take the spot kick and brought his side back into the game with a goal.

The Kléber show

In the second half, Porto increased their lead to two goals once again. After missing a handful of one-on-one chances, Kléber finally found the net. Set up by the resurgent Varela, the Brazilian beat Jefferson with some wonderful dribbling and slid the ball past Huanderson for his first goal in several months.

Rio Ave responded with a quick counterattack where Braga exposed Rolando’s defensive frailties and dribbled past the Porto captain with ease. With Atsu in the box, the former Leixões man picked out the youngster who scored against the team who he is on loan from.

Energised by the confidence he gained from his earlier goal,
Kléber added a second. The ball fell to the striker’s feet when an acrobatic effort from Rolando stopped the ball from going out for a goal kick.  The former Maritimo man once again beat his marker one-on-one and blasted past Huanderson to earn a brace.

Near the end of the game, Kléber scored his third after a throughball from Hulk released the reborn striker who expertly placed the ball past Huanderson from a tight angle to score his third of the night.

With a great display, the Dragons were able to conclude a championship season, filled with low points, on a high. This certainly looked difficult to accomplish during a season where player form, confidence, and consistency were lacking in comparison to that of Andre Villas-Boas' juggernaut side of a year ago.

A difficult season ends in triumph

Perhaps due to several players expecting to be moved during the transfer window, many never seemed to attain the high point of form that they achieved a season ago. Rolando was the most glaring culprit as every time the former Belenenses man played in the centre of defence, his side looked wobbly and incapable of keeping a clean sheet. Fredy Guarín , another pillar of Villas-Boas' success, never found the form that made him one of the most dominant midfielders in Europe and was keenly moved to Inter Milan after losing his place in the starting XI. Alvaro Pereira was not the menacing presence in attack that he was last year and Hulk only found form near the end of the season.

It was the inability of these players to hit their best form, along with the lack of a potent striker that caused the Dragons' consistency to slip. Radamel Falcao's move to Atlético Madrid left an inexperienced Kléber to fend for himself in front of goal. This put pressure onto players such as James and Hulk to find the back of the net and when they didn't, Porto struggled.

Embarrasing defeats to Zenit and Apoel ended Porto's Champions League campaign early as they finished third and were eliminated from the group stage for the first time since 2005-2006. Given a chance to defend their Europa League title, Porto were torn apart by Manchester City in England and eliminated from competition.

Before that, Vitor Pereira's side were also eliminated from the Portuguese Cup after a blowout defeat to Academica and found themselves behind rivals Benfica in the race for the league title.

When they seemed to have hit a low and when Pereira's head was being called for by nearly every Porto fan, Benfica began to lose their position at the top of the table while Porto pulled together and earned crucial victories against Benfica at the Estadio da Luz and Braga at the Estadio Axa to regain and cement their hold on first place. Benfica's troubles continued when the title was on the line against Rio Ave. A draw against the Vilacondenses gifted the crown to Porto, which after a season of incredible lows, finally found the success to drown out all of the negatives.

Victor Ferreira

F.C Porto XI: Bracali (Kadu, 80); Danilo, Rolando, Mangala, Alvaro Pereira; Defour, Moutinho; Djalma, James (Iturbe, 46), Varela (Hulk, 63), Kléber

[0-1] Djalma - 14'
[0-2] James - 17'
[1-2] J. Tomás [PEN] - 42'
[1-3] Kléber - 49'
[2-3] Atsu - 65'
[2-4] Kléber - 73'
[2-5] Kléber - 89'
Comments (1)
1 Saturday, 12 May 2012 21:10
Great win ! i knew Kleber could score again lol . ended the season on a high note as expected,now come summer so many things may happen.will be a interesting next couple of months for sure.

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