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Porto draw keeps APOEL on top

Published: Wednesday 19 October 2011, 22.48CET
FC Porto 1-1 APOEL FC
Hulk's early goal was cancelled out within six minutes by Aílton as Cypriot champions APOEL maintained their position at the top of Group G.
by Andy Brassell
from Estádio do Dragão

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Published: Wednesday 19 October 2011, 22.48CET

Porto draw keeps APOEL on top

FC Porto 1-1 APOEL FC
Hulk's early goal was cancelled out within six minutes by Aílton as Cypriot champions APOEL maintained their position at the top of Group G.

Group G leaders APOEL FC extended their unbeaten record in this season's UEFA Champions League after overcoming a fraught opening at the Estádio do Dragão to prise a point from FC Porto.

Aílton hit a 19th-minute equaliser not long after Hulk blazed the home side ahead, the culmination of considerable early pressure. Still a point ahead of FC Zenit St Petersburg and Porto, APOEL go into the return in Nicosia on 1 November with realistic hopes of becoming the first Cypriot team to advance to the last 16 in this competition.

Porto were looking to bounce back from the matchday two defeat at Zenit – only their second loss in 19 matches in UEFA competition – and Dionisios Chiotis was forced into action twice by Kléber in the opening 12 minutes. He bravely blocked at the Brazilian striker's feet after João Moutinho's pass and then palmed away his volley from Cristian Săpunaru's cross.

Yet it proved to be an unlucky 13th minute for the APOEL goalkeeper, who had already received treatment for a collision with Kléber. Hulk, scorer of both Porto's goals in their 2-1 defeat of APOEL here in 2009/10, blasted in one of his trademark free-kicks from distance – the pace on the ball was too much for Chiotis.

The home side continued to perturb the visitors with their habitual high pressing game, so it was a shock when APOEL equalised from their first effort on goal. Aílton – one of seven native Portuguese-speakers in the visitors' starting lineup – side-stepped Fernando before placing a precise drive into the corner from outside the area, much to the delight of the 1,500 travelling fans.

APOEL took considerable heart and might have taken the lead when defender Marcelo Oliveira sent a header wide from close in. Ivan Jovanović's side looked assured on the counterattack and suddenly it was Porto who were tense and hurried in possession.

Urko Pardo replaced Chiotis, with the latter still feeling the effects of his early injury, and the substitute goalkeeper soon looked worried as Hulk fizzed a pair of shots narrowly wide. Still, Vítor Pereira's side lacked their earlier control, and in between his Brazilian team-mate's efforts Helton was forced to block a Nuno Morais shot after the former Chelsea FC man dispossessed Moutinho. He also denied Aldo Adorno as APOEL finished strongly.

Last updated: 27/11/12 7.22CET

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