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Sunday, 13 January 2013 23:34

Benfica 2-2 Porto

Chaos followed by tension at the Luz

Tonight's Clássico between Benfica and Porto produced four goals in the opening seventeen minutes, and although the remaining 73 did not add to the total, there was no shortage of tension as the Liga ZON Sagres' best continued to match each other stride for stride in what is fast becoming an impossible to call title race.

Both teams began the match missing key figures. For the home side, captain Luisão was only fit enough to start amongst the substitutes - Jardel continued to deputise alongside Garay. Porto were also missing a first-choice centre back, with tonight's match coming too early on Maicon's road to recovery for the Brazilian to start. Meanwhile James Rodríguez missed out altogether, and Steven Defour replaced the Colombian as expected. 

Unlike many Clássicos of recent times, this one began with a bang, as both sides were urged on by a near-capacity Estádio da Luz. After just eight minutes, a Moutinho free kick evaded both Jackson and Garay, but not Mangala, who found himself unmarked in space just six yards out. The Frenchman could hardly miss with his header, and Porto had the lead.

Replays showed the Benfica defence, Melgarejo in particular, to be at fault - but the Paraguayan made amends just over a minute later, receiving a short corner and producing a superb left footed cross into the Porto box. His compatriot Cardozo teed up Jardel, who in turn nodded the ball back from Nemanja Matic - and Benfica's defensive midfielder arrowed an acrobatic volley beyond Helton and into the net, with the Porto goalkeeper rooted to the spot as the Serbian levelled the scores in unforgettable fashion.

If the pre-match atmosphere had been raucous, the noise in the ensuing minutes defied measurement, as both sets of players almost lost themselves to the occasion. One who certainly did so was Artur. With a quarter of an hour gone, Benfica's goalkeeper made an awful hash of an elementary clearance, allowing the alert Jackson Martínez to seize the ball, bear down on goal and (despite a last-ditch challenge from Garay) slot home to restore Porto's advantage. 

Artur was clearly distraught, but to Benfica's credit they responded once again, pouring players forward in search of a second equaliser. It arrived two minutes later, thanks to yet another defensive error. First Helton then Otamendi failed to clear the ball when it seemed simple to do so, and Gaitán pounced, rifling home in clinical style to send the Luz into raptures once again. 

At this point, all concerned were approaching breaking point in terms of pressure, and the remainder of the first half was significantly less frenetic. Both Cardozo and Moutinho shook off what initially appeared to be worrying knocks, and although both sets of full backs got forward with regularity, Artur and Helton were allowed some respite.

The second half unfolded in similar fashion, although with the tension raised significantly. Referee João Ferreira mostly kept a lid on the simmering rancour, but Vítor Pereira in particular was a picture of rage on the Porto touchline - incensed by both a series of officiating decisions, and a number of challenges. In fairness, neither team was holding back in the tackle, as the midfield area became increasingly congested. 

This meant that clear-cut chances were few and far between, though the best of them undoubtedly fell to Benfica. Helton did well to turn a low drive from Salvio behind on 68 minutes, and with thirteen left on the clock managed to get the slenderest of touches on Cardozo's curling effort, doing just enough to divert it off the post and away from danger. It would turn out to be the defining moment of a second half that lacked the lunacy of the first, but was only marginally less engrossing for that. 

The draw leaves Benfica still three clear of Porto, though the Dragões have played one match less. The return fixture is scheduled for the weekend of May 11th/12th, and looks increasingly as if it will be a championship decider. 

[0-1] Mangala 8'
[1-1] Matic 10'
[1-2] Martínez 15'
[2-2] Gaitán 17'

Benfica: Artur; Maxi Pereira, Jardel, Garay, Melgarejo; Matic, Gaitán (Ola John 88'), Enzo Pérez (Carlos Martins 58'), Salvio; Lima (Aimar 69'), Cardozo.

Porto: Helton; Danilo, Otamendi, Mangala, Alex Sandro; Fernando, Lucho (Castro 90'), Moutinho; Defour (Izmaylov 75'), Martínez, Varela (Abdoulaye 88').

Ben Shave

Comments (16)
16 Tuesday, 15 January 2013 16:16
I'm not whining. I'm of the belief that you must win at home, especially the big games. For me, these were points lost, not a moral victory.

I've never said Emerson is great or that I wanted him back. But defensively he's worlds better than Ugh. He has cost us, and will cost us. Although Ugh as started and played extensive minutes, there hasn't been a noticeable improvement in his defense. It's ridiculous if we continue using him in that capacity, after the winter transfer period.

By the way Quaresma and Martins are rubbish.
Are we really going to roll back the years with Martins? I agree that Bruno has been disappointing so far this season, but he's played sporadically. At his worst, he's as good as Martins at this point. Horrible decision by JJ.

A couple of concerns for the remainder of the campaign. We are looking to ship off Bruno and Nolito. Two guys that have helped us get to where we are. We are now going to turn to Nico and Ola. Aimar will also be important, but he'll be exposed badly in a 4-4-2. Unless we're in a 4-2-3-1, I just don't see us controlling a game. Martins, for whatever reason, also seems poised to contribute. Crazy, especially with Gomes and/or Almeida and/or Ola poised to make their marks.

Andre, I expected us to get over the hump and beat a very good Porto team at the Luz. We not only, didn't do that, I'm afraid of the message that was possibly sent for the future.
I may be a Benfiquista through and through, but I notice the faults and problems. It's not all Glorioso.
15 Tuesday, 15 January 2013 10:52
My goodness, is the glass ever half full for you? Cheer up for once in your life man! A "horrible result for Benfica"? Yes we agree that a win was there for the taking in that second half, but Porto are a solid team, and difficult to break down. The error JJ made was not introducing Ola John much earlier, as he really could've been the one to bring something different to our attacking strategy.

I prefer to look it like this, we showed great fighting spirit to quickly equalise both Porto goals, and didn't get demoralised by conceding those cheap goals. But as for your assumption that we now have to win at the Dragao...we'll have to see about that...that's still 4 months away, and there will be more twists and turns before then...and anyway I think Benfica at their best can win at any stadium.

Don't forget that Melgarejo set up our first goal with a superb cross into the box, and while granted it was him who put the Porto player onside for their first goal, I also don't remember any of the Porto wingers making him look too bad in open play. Emerson? Lol, I can't believe you're still mentioning his name (with all due respect to the guy)...have you forgotten his performance in this fixture last season? That was a disaster! So let me get this straight, to you Quaresma and Martins are rubbish players, but Emerson is great?

As for Bruno Cesar, he's been a disappointment this season, which has been a shame because he did well last season, but his performances so far this year have not warranted a starting place in the team, and he has been given opportunities even in the centre. Anyway my point is that Benfica is still unbeaten in the Liga, and top of the table, so I really don't get the whining. The result of this Classico was never going to determine anything this early, there are still many games to be played before the rematch at the Dragao, and I am confident in this Benfica side against any team in any stadium.
@ Andre
14 Tuesday, 15 January 2013 02:07
Glad to hear your points.

I agree Ola John would have been a game changer for you. Not necessarily a guarantee of victory but certainly a threat to the opposition.

Aimar did not impress to be honest. Martins made 1-2 good passes but he also blew some good set pieces.

I still say Porto were more depleted in strength than the eagles and its true. If Noli to and Andre Gomes don't make the squad bc there's no room, whereas VP has to call up 2 B squad players who is really closer to full strength? Benfica.

And on the bench issue, you and I have always agreed, JJ has a better crop to choose from off the bench, no doubt. I'm still not a JJ fan, but I do respect his cahones in going for an attacking play.

Cheers mate.
@ Pedro
13 Tuesday, 15 January 2013 01:59
Sorry Pedro, I must have misread your post.

I am not denying that Fernando and Otamendi weren't a bit aggressive at times. I readily admit that. But the impression I got from your post was that despite being a neutral, you were heaping praise on Benfica and criticising Porto.

I disagree with you that missing Luisao was worse than missing James. Luisao was gone for 2 months and Benfica still dominated in the league. Porto just lost James and he is their main creative force on the right.

So, I concede maybe Benfica were not full strength but considering Porto's lack of depth on the bench and the fact they were playing in Lisbon, I think they did well.

As for being satisfied with a draw, I think if you look at my history on this site I have never been happy when Porto underperformed but considering Porto have been superb in Portugal and Europe until now, I am willing to cut them some slack.

I appreciate a good debate, so thanks for providing me with some reflective feedback to remind me that I need to take it easy. Lol.

I'm disappointed
12 Tuesday, 15 January 2013 00:50
Much whining about nothing. It's a derby type match where tackles tend to be on the edge of outright dirty. I remember matches where Fucile and Martins could have broken someone.
The ref was always going to let play go or give out yellows or kill the game with red. It didn't matter what the outcome of decision was. No matter what, people will bitch and complaint.

With that out of the way, onto the game;

Matic will enrich our coffers. Sadly, it will most likely happen way sooner than any of us want.
Ugh is a disaster. How I long for Emerson. We might as well have Ola play there. Oops, shouldn't have said that. JJ might see it.
I don't care that we looked livelier when Martins came on. Why is this guy on the bench, never mind field. Horrible. This means that Bruno is out this winter. For those who don't care, remember he's rarely played in his position. At worst, he's a younger version of Martins, at best he's a whole lot better.
Aimar for me was a hope and a prayer play. He's a seasoned player/star that has the know how to possibly make the deciding play.
For all the Lima lovers, he was nowhere to be seen yesterday. Yes we needed Rodrigo in for Lima and I would have taken Aimar for Enzo.

Porto got what it needed from the game. This is a point earned for them. Can we please stop with the who's missing. Would of could of, ahh shut up. You play with what you got.
By the way Pereira whined so much, he sounded like JJ and/or Viera when they complain. Tripeiros, it goes both ways. You can't just have it your way. I've been embarrassed by my knuckleheads, make sure you are by yours as well.

All in all, horrible result for Benfica. They had to win this match at home. Worst yet, we once again are unable to get it done. We'll now have to nab a win at the Dragao. Not easy.

As a Benfiquista, I was disappointed by result.
Just to clarify, Chris
11 Monday, 14 January 2013 21:03
Firstly I thought I was pretty objective in my post, how many times did I say a draw was the fair result? Porto started better, settled quicker and shaded the first half, but clearly Benfica was better in the second, and I don't recall a single Porto chance in the second 45 minutes. So it was the right result in the end.

Despite your (and others) criticism of JJ's tactics and substitutions...I thought his decision to bring on Aimar and Martins in the second half actually improved us, as we started to take a foothold in the midfield. The only thing i thought JJ messed up with was not bringing Ola John on much earlier. I reckon had he done so, we would've won the match.

I am certainly with Pedro and Phil B. regarding your persistent claims that Porto were depleted and we were at full strength, this is an exaggeration of note on your part. Let's look at the facts, how many Porto players were missing, that would've otherwise started? Only 2 really, James and Maicon (Atsu would've been on the bench and don't even mention Kleber, has he even played this season?). As for Benfica, we had our captain Luisao out, as he has been all season...plus Rodrigo (who I would've loved to see running at a tireing Otamendi in that second half), Andre Gomes and Nolito (both didn't even make the squad) and as Phil B mentions, only a half-fit Aimar. A full strength Benfica? Sounds like excuses to me mate!

Now what this proves to me, quite simply, and relating to an argument you and i had earlier in the season (remember?)...is that Benfica clearly has a lot more depth in their squad than Porto does. Porto's first choice 11 is very strong, but should the likes of James, Fernando or Moutinho get injured (or sold), then they will be hard to replace. Also you say Benfica fans are "satisfied with a poor result"? Firstly, no..most of us thought the win was there for the taking in that second half. Secondly it is not a "poor result"...yes we were at home and wanted the 3 points, but also don't get too over-confident amigo, Benfica is more than capable of matching this draw at the Dragao rematch, and there are other tough matches to come for both of our teams. Long way to go still!
10 Monday, 14 January 2013 20:50
The fact that I think Benfica was the better team in this game doesn't make me any less neutral. I understand this is probably the most important game of the year for portistas and benfiquistas and it's difficult for you to maintain a level head, but you jumped to totally wrong conclusions only because our opinions differ.

Fernando is no counter-argument. As you "overlooked" him on your original comment, it was essential to add a bit of perspective: having a player sent off on the 46th minute is completely different from the same happening on the 86th minute, so it makes no sense that Vítor Pereira should bring that up. Plus, I clearly stated that it was a clear red card for Maxi, so the talk about honesty is nonsense. I didn't mention Matic because that last one was not worthy of a yellow, let alone a yellow that would mean the player being sent off, as Otamendi had stepped on the ball, cutting the momentum of the counter-attack.

You were the first person to mention that his team wasn't at full-strength and the only one to use it as an excuse. Not only did you do it here, you repeated it on the tactical thread. And you still try to turn it against benfiquistas, saying it's their modus operandi. Please. . .

Let me remind you that you were onto the what-could-have-been-if-Maxi-had-been-sent-off. If you really like objective discussion, as you mentioned, my reasons for thinking Benfica was better are simple and I state them again: Benfica had more chances (notably the one that hit the post) and the goals came from open play with a sublime finish on the first one, while Porto scored from a set piece and had another offered by Artur.

Finally, if you were happy with the draw, you're the one that doesn't have a winning mentality. Most of my family are die hard portistas and I assure you they were really disappointed with the result (Vítor Pereira and Pinto da Costa were too, considering their post-match remarks). The benfiquistas I talked to (and from what I read here) were really disappointed as well. A team that considers itself big should never be happy with a draw, even at their biggest rival's home stadium.
@ Phil B.
9 Monday, 14 January 2013 17:32
That's a bit dubious of a rationale. Helton also flubbed big time in letting that Gaitan goal in, so it goes both ways. Also, Porto had some great chances in the first half, and the first 15 minutes of the 2nd so saying it would have been 3-1 is kind of untrue.

I also don't get this "well, we missed Luisao so we weren't full strength" argument. Did you guys watch the game? Did you see at one point Vitor Pereira running alongside the Benfica subs warming up? Do you know why? It's because he had a kit on underneath and was prepared to come in to replace Moutinho. That's how depleted the team is. Lol.

At the end of the day, it was a draw. A fair result considering the run of play. That's all. Good show, poor officiating, and a great atmosphere at the Luz. I enjoy hearing the cheers and boos in a big stadium (while watching at a bar), even if it is at our main rival's home.

8 Monday, 14 January 2013 15:58
A 442 Benfica was never going to out-posses a 433 Porto, and in a game like this IMO possession is a meaningless statistic. Despite Porto's ability to possess the ball, and the fact they started four natural Midfield Centers to Benfica's two, the possession was split. Yes, Benfica did not play a very attractive game but marginally they had the better of chances. Don't get me wrong, I'm a Benfica fan and I will admit that collectively Porto are a stronger and more organized team.

Say what you want Porto fans about Maxi's aggression, Matic tactical foul for an obvious second yellow, 3 offsides (although I'd love to see that footage because I only recall one) etc. etc.... but it is very clear if it wasn't for Artur (Jackson) and Helton (Cardozo), this game would of been 3-1 for the home team.

Also, what weakened Porto? I'm sure James would of made a difference (who wouldn't vs. Melgarejo) but to say Porto was a weakened side for a team with that depth is somewhat ridiculous IMO. And also, I felt the ref was consistent but I didn't think he did a great job. If you're not gonna send Moutinho off after 8 fouls then why shouldn't Matic get away with the tactical foul.

PS. Full strength Benfica would of included Luisao and a healthy Aimar. Rodrigo would of probably been more influential than Lima.
@ Pedro and Andre
7 Monday, 14 January 2013 14:34
Pedro, are you a "neutral" in the same way Japan was "neutral" during WW2? Seems like your brand of neutrality is really just Porto-bashing, which means you lean towards the red of Benfica. Nothing wrong with that, but just don't say you're a neutral and then go on about "Porto getting away with too many fouls". Otherwise, we could be friends as the Briosa is the other club of my hear (mom's side of the family hails from Coimbra).

I don't understand the counter-argument for Maxi being that Fernando should have been sent off. Is there any reason (and I'm talking to you as well here Andre), that people can just isolate one incident and be honest with themselves?

That Maxi tackle was malicious, and he had bad intentions. Not only were both studs up, but that moron took flight and put all his body weight into that tackle. Don't start talking about "oh Fernando, Fernando". Be objective and look at what you saw and admit, that was some dirty play. That's it.

You don't hear me go on about Matic should have gotten a 2nd yellow. And I readily admit that guys like Otamendi and Fernando were getting a bit too physical at times. But when you have a player leaping full speed into a tackle when the ball is nowhere near the opposing player, you have to call it for what it is.

Maxi should have been sent off, if not suspended a few matches for that. VP was completely within his rights to say what he said. Normally I am very objective, but this discussion is really pathetic, so I have to say my piece.

As for the "full strength" comments, yes Luisao was out, but I still expected (as a Porto fan), that this game was Benfica's to win. I expected a draw from my team, because quite frankly they have stronger nerves and a will to win, but if Benfica won, I would not have been surprised.

Along with also missing a key centre-half, we were missing another 4 key players. So I am quite happy with the result, considering the onus was on Benfica to win. I'm starting to understand why Orlando gets so frustrated with his fellow Benfa's, because the conditions yesterday were ones where anything other than a victory should have been unacceptable for you all.

Instead, I see Benfa's whine on about "well, technically we weren't really at full strength, so you know Jesus actually got a good result". Sad. I think that's the most frustrating thing about talking to some Benfa's. Instead of having a winner's mentality and not being satisfied with a poor result, many would rather moan about not really being "full-strength" because Luisao wasn't playing. I would prefer objective discussions.

The table of Benfa's I watched the game with yesterday were mostly objective and I would like to think I was as well. If I am to critically assess what happened, here is what I as a Portista would say:

-Helton was below average, aside from that brilliant save on Cardozo

-Lucho was unseen, but very good in locking down midfield

-Rolando is a much better defender than Otamendi, who is in my opinion, a bit too aggressive. But Rolando and VP seem to hate each other.

-Defour and Fernando were outstanding

-Moutinho and Jackson were good, but not great

-Alex Sando is the best left back in the league, in my opinion

-FCP need to get their roster under control. Izmailov may be a decent signing, but with Iturbe having been loaned away, rumours of Kleber going to Belgium and James injured, the Dragoes really need to strengthen the roster this month in order to compete in the Liga and in the Champions.

Cheers lads, let's try to keep it civil.
big game
6 Monday, 14 January 2013 12:04
For all the hype I heard and read in various places including this website and in and around Newark (by the way so many birds were out down there on Saturday in full sweatsuit uniform boasting how the Eagles had finally landed)the outcome of this game has to be favorable for Porto and a disappointment for Benfica. Everything was mostly about Benfica's form and depth and how could Porto compete with that and Porto has just done enough to win their games. Well outside of a short period during the game I think Porto controlled the game and VP totally outcoached and had his players stick to the game plan compared to JJ.And as for "lucky" goals Helton should have saved his as well or Ottemendi clear. So one of Benfica's goals was somewhat of a gift as well. As for Maxi P just watch last years Classico where he spit on a Porto player towards the end of the game. Come on watch the foul again and see how high his tackle was and where his feet ended up yesterday. Sorry Eagles so many of you thought you could get Porto this time and you did not. VP has a point re-view the game and watch all the long balls.
5 Monday, 14 January 2013 10:51
Hey Chris, how come it was a full strength Benfica if they were missing their captain? Although Jardel has been ok, I'd say the difference between those two is greater than between Defour and James - we're talking about a Belgian international.

Although the rest didn't live up to the first twenty minutes, it was a great game to watch. Porto did well to stop Benfica of having their traditional all attack game but couldn't create any chances. Nevertheless, Benfica managed to score twice from beautiful game play (and the finishing on the first one was sublime) and saw another hit the post. Porto scored from a set piece and the other was a present from Artur. As a neutral, I'd say Benfica deserved the win.

This whole talk about refereeing is nauseating. I'm fed up with the coach of the team I support, Académica, blaming everything on the referees. They lose because the team isn't playing good enough, simple.

It's funny to talk about a Maxi Pereira tackle on the 86' (it's a red card) when Fernando should have been sent off on the 46'. There were rough tackles from both sides and the referee let the game flow - initially well, in my opinion, later letting Porto get away with too many fouls. It's funny that supporters praise the English game for its physical side but when the same happens in their country they start crying for red cards.

About the offsides: how can you realistically expect the referee to see that Defour wasn't offside? Even when you watch it in slow motion and the image is stopped on the moment of the pass, Defour is only one meter inside from the last Benfica defender (the one in the far left). In the next moment he's like 3 metres away from the defense, so it's fair that they ruled it offside. Considering the conditions it will have been an offside most of the times. The others are offside.

Porto started this talk about the referees before the match, so it's expected they should stick to it in the case of not winning. Boasting about always being successful at their rival's home and then they create no chances and send in one more defender to secure the result in the closing minutes. Enough said for me.
Top Match!
4 Monday, 14 January 2013 10:20
A fair result in the end, and a real contrast in the two halves. Porto were probably the better team in the first half and settled quicker into the match, but we were better in the second (as usual under JJ) and looked the most likely to grab a winner. The first 15 minutes were absolutely frenetic, and after the 4th goal went in before even 20 minutes were played, I was wondering how many goals would be scored in this match. The second half was the complete opposite, and became much more tactical and slower. Cardozo almost grabbed a precious winner, but Helton saved well.

All in all a great match to watch and a good advert for our Liga. I think it also showed clearly how much further ahead these two are from the rest of the pack. Braga will just have to be happy with third this season, and just like I thought at the start of the season, it's a two horse race this year! A draw was a fair result tonight, and losing would've been harsh on any of the two teams given that they both played well.

A lot was made about how depleted Porto were...but in fact we had 2 key players missing too: Luisao and Rodrigo, and both might've made a big difference to our team...the defending was poor for both of Porto's goals (Luisao might've been able to prevent at least one of them going in)...while Rodrigo coming on in the second half might've really heated up our attack and troubled the tireing Porto defence. So SLB was also affected by absentees, no question about it...sorry Chris but Benfica were not at "full strength" either!

I knew JJ would start Gaitan ahead of Ola John, and in truth Nico did quite well and took his goal very well. But John should've come on much much earlier, I would have brought him on by the 60th minute to give us something fresh in attack. I think had that happened, we really might've won the game. Porto's key player was Fernando, as he's been in most of the Classicos against us in recent years...what a monster of a DM...it was arguably him who stopped Benfica winning this match in that second half, as he really prevented us creating the number of scoring chances we normally create in matches. To me he's Porto most important player now that Hulk has gone, and is the guy they really need to keep hold of this month or keep fit. On the other hand our DM, Matic, also played another top class match for us, and what a belter of a finish for his goal! He can do it all it seems, and we really look a better team than last year, with him protecting the defence.

It was amusing to hear Vitor Pereira's rant about the referee in his interview, lol...what, really? Has he forgotten how an atrocious decision by a referee at this stadium won Porto the Liga last season? Did he also miss Fernando's shove on Gaitan, which may have resulted in a red card, as he was through on goal? Por favor, give us a break, how can anyone associated with Porto even mention the referee!

Anyway the draw was the fair result, and there's everything to play for. I said in my post the other day that nothing would be determined tonight, as it is still way too early in the season. It looks like going right down to the wire! Porto are a very solid unit and are very tough to beat...but Benfica have a stronger squad with more depth, will that be crucial in the end? Vamos a ver! It should be an intriguing and exciting fight right to the end....
Beautiful Game
3 Monday, 14 January 2013 01:23
Two teams went to battle and glad to see the ref didn't play a part in the end result. It's still a dog fight for first place which is good for the Liga and Portuguese soccer.
Good game, good result for Porto, but could have done better
2 Monday, 14 January 2013 00:58
Good game, lot's of action in those first 15 minutes.

Very impressed with a weakened Porto vs a full strength Benfica. Defour was playing quite well, and while Izmailov started to warm up when he came in, he was not nearly as productive as the Belgian.

There were points when I felt like the ref lost control of the game, and I share VP's indignation about the pathetic yellow card given to Maxi. I watched the game with my Benfa friends and even all of them admitted that was a red card offence.

Of course, some the FCP's players were a bit "spirited" in their challenges, Otamendi and Moutinho especially. But it was a great game of chess. I know some of you will blast me for this, but I remain unimpressed with JJ's tactics and substitutions.

Malgarejo was awful, and Benfica just decided to emulate an English team by punting long-balls to Cardozo and Lima most of the game. Matic was brilliant for the Aguias, and deserved man of the match.

For Porto, Moutinho and Defour impressed me most. VP played it safe tactically, and it paid off. What irritates me the most is the complaining I am sure we will all hear for the next few days. It was a good game of soccer and we all should enjoy it for what it is.

1 Monday, 14 January 2013 00:33
Artur has been brilliant all season, so I don't want to put all the blame on him. Nevertheless, he chose the worst possible game to have a hugely embarrassing frango. I actually think that's his second frango in as many games.

Artur and Melgarejo made some costly mistakes, but JJ should also take some blame for the poor result. Where was Andre Gomes? Enzo Perez didn't play poorly, but he was completely overwhelmed by Porto's 4-man midfield. Matic was brilliant yet again, but we definitely needed a little more muscle to prevent Porto from dominating possession.

I was also really upset to see JJ remove Enzo for Martins. Enzo wasn't having a great game, but at least he's fit and has match sharpness. Martins had just returned from injury and he is much worse defensively than Enzo. Taking Lima off for Aimar was another strange decision from JJ. Like Martins, he's still not ready to play in such a big game after a long injury.

Overall, despite JJ's poor substitutions, we created the better chances. Porto's first goal was the result of crappy marking and their second was an absolute gift.

Helton also deserves a lot of credit for making a brilliant save to deny Cardozo the game winning goal.

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