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Majestic McCarthy undoes United

Published: Thursday 26 February 2004, 0.35CET
FC Porto 2-1 Manchester United FC Two goals from Benni McCarthy give Portuguese champions narrow lead.
Published: Thursday 26 February 2004, 0.35CET

Majestic McCarthy undoes United

FC Porto 2-1 Manchester United FC Two goals from Benni McCarthy give Portuguese champions narrow lead.

By Fergus O'Shea at the Estádio do Dragão

Benni McCarthy scored two spectacular goals as FC Porto came from behind to mark the first European match at their new Estádio do Dragão with a 2-1 victory against Manchester United FC.

Centenary milestone
The South African striker registered in each half as Porto earned a narrow advantage from the first leg of their UEFA Champions League first knockout-round fixture to deny their English visitors a share of the spoils as they reached a century of matches in the competition under Sir Alex Ferguson, who saw captain Roy Keane sent off late on.

Key absentees
Porto lined up without a number of key players, with Costinha missing through suspension, influential forward Derlei a long-term injury victim and new signing Sérgio Conceição ineligible having already played for S.S. Lazio in the group stage. The visitors, meanwhile, paired Wes Brown with Gary Neville in central defence, having lost Rio Ferdinand and Mikaël Silvestre to suspension and injury respectively. Louis Saha made his first Champions League start alongside Ruud van Nistelrooij in attack.

Porto press
Buoyed by a vibrant crowd, the home side were quickly into their stride, with the tricky Deco an early influence in the centre of the pitch. Brown had to be alert to deny Paulo Ferreira with a timely interception as the right-back tried to reach Deco's pass, while Maniche sliced a shot wide following a corner.

Fortune finish
United weathered the early storm, and started to string some passes together. Although Porto looked the more likely scorers, it was the English side who struck first in the 14th minute. Ryan Giggs won a free-kick just outside the Porto area and Van Nistelrooij rolled the ball square to Paul Scholes. The English international's powerful low strike was only parried by goalkeeper Vítor Baía, and Quinton Fortune was the first to react to score a crucial away goal.

Chances at both ends
Porto tried to hit back straight from the restart, but Carlos Alberto's long-range effort was fractionally too high. United might have doubled their lead three minutes after Fortune's strike when the South African, playing at left-back, swung a cross into the penalty box where Van Nistelrooij was unable to control the ball and the danger passed.

Volleyed equaliser
The home side continued to press, and were rewarded for their efforts two minutes before the half-hour. Dmitri Alenichev burst down the right before checking back on to his left foot. His cross was met by McCarthy, who swivelled to steer his volley beyond Tim Howard for a fine leveller.

Inviting cross
The Portugese champions continued to look the more likely scorers in the second half, with Paulo Ferreira's inviting cross headed over by Carlos Alberto. Substitute Edgaras Jankauskas then failed to hit the target after Nuno Valente had crossed from the left.

Spectacular header
Sensing a victory Porto attacked fearlessly, with Nuno Valente regularly pressing forward from defence. It was from another dangerous cross from the left-back that the home side earned their first-leg advantage. McCarthy met the ball with a brilliant header which flew in the top corner of the net, leaving Howard with no chance.

Keane dismissed
United's woes were compounded three minutes from time as Keane was shown a red card for appearing to stamp on Vítor Baía. Porto will go to Old Trafford on 9 March in confident mood to meet a United side missing their captain.

Last updated: 26/02/04 11.23CET

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