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Season review: Portugal

Published: Thursday 16 June 2011, 10.46CET
André Villas-Boas's first season as FC Porto coach proved to be a startling one, with his side winning the Liga title, the UEFA Europa League and the Portuguese Cup.
by José Nuno Pimentel
from Lisbon
Season review: Portugal
André Villas-Boas enjoyed a stunning first campaign with Porto ©Getty Images
Published: Thursday 16 June 2011, 10.46CET

Season review: Portugal

André Villas-Boas's first season as FC Porto coach proved to be a startling one, with his side winning the Liga title, the UEFA Europa League and the Portuguese Cup.

Four trophies – the Portuguese Super Cup, the Liga, the UEFA Europa League and the Portuguese Cup – in 2010/11 represented a stunning haul for FC Porto. Throw in the fact it was their first season under coach André Villas-Boas, the Dragons' youngest ever coach when he was appointed aged 32 in June 2010, and it was a truly remarkable campaign.

Victory in the all-Portuguese UEFA Europa League final against SC Braga was the most publicised success, but the manner in which Porto dominated domestic competition was no less impressive.

Champions: FC Porto
Bruno Alves and Raul Meireles left for FC Zenit St Petersburg and Liverpool FC respectively before the start of the season, but Porto's resolve nevertheless remained intact. They beat reigning champions SL Benfica in November and went on to wrap up the title with five games to spare. Their 21-point margin at the summit was a new national record. Winning 27 games and drawing three, they became the first team since Benfica in 1972/73 to claim the league without losing a match. "Our results speak for themselves," said goalkeeper Helton. Too true.

Cup final: Vitória SC 2-6 FC Porto
Four days after beating Braga 1-0 to win the UEFA Europa League in Dublin, Porto matched the haul of Tomislav Ivić's 1987/88 vintage in winning their fourth trophy of the season, and their third successive Portuguese Cup. Guimarães twice levelled the scores but Porto keeper Beto's save from Edgar's penalty, with Villas-Boas's men 4-2 up, proved decisive. James Rodríguez soon made it 5-2, completing a hat-trick after the break. "It's a wonderful feeling for all of us," said the triumphant coach.

European places
FC Porto – UEFA Champions League group stage
SL Benfica – UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
Sporting Clube de Portugal – UEFA Europa League play-offs
SC Braga – UEFA Europa League play-offs
Vitória SC – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
CD Nacional – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round

Player of the year: Hulk (FC Porto)
Falcao was the star of Porto's European campaign, but Hulk outshone him in the league. Pace, power and physical presence helped to net him 23 Liga goals, including the winner against Benfica in the game that that saw Porto take the title in early April.

One to watch: James Rodríguez (FC Porto)
A fee of just over €5m prised the Colombian prodigy from CA Banfield last summer and though the 19-year-old did not make his debut until October, 15 league appearances were enough to invite comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo. He was to end the campaign with a substantial flourish thanks to a cup final treble.

Surprise package: FC Paços de Ferreira
Modest but consistent, Paços de Ferreira were the only team to take points off Porto at the Estádio do Dragão this season. While they lost the League Cup final 2-1 against Benfica, coach Rui Vitória had reason to be proud of his first season in charge. Paços slipped from fourth to seventh in the closing stages of the season, but the mix of exciting forward Pizzi and experienced midfielders Maykon, André Leão and Manuel José proved intoxicating, and earned their 41-year-old coach a new deal until 2013.

Number: 16
Porto won 16 successive league games from 6 December to 1 May; the best run since Benfica won 23 on the trot in the 1972/73 campaign.

Leading scorer: Hulk, FC Porto (23)

Relegated: Portimonense SC, A. Naval 1º Maio

Promoted: Gil Vicente FC, CD Feirense

Quote
"Perhaps for many of you journalists I smell like an imitation and a clone, but I refute all that completely. I think I am more a clone of Bobby Robson than José Mourinho. I have English ancestors, a big nose and I like to drink wine."
André Villas-Boas dismisses comparisons to his old mentor José Mourinho as he is announced as Porto's new coach

Last updated: 08/07/11 16.45CET

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