By Fergus O'Shea at the Estádio do Dragão
FC Porto were frustrated by a stubborn PFC CSKA Moskva side in their opening game of their UEFA Champions League defence, although the goalless Group H fixture did stretch their unbeaten run in the competition to 12 games.
Porto dominated for much of the match but were unable to find a way past in-form CSKA goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev. Hélder Postiga came closest for the home side with a shot against the post, but CSKA too had their chances, Ivica Olic hitting the post then the crossbar seconds apart midway through the second half.
New Porto coach Víctor Fernández opted for an attacking 4-3-3 formation with new arrivals Postiga and Ricardo Quaresma joining Carlos Alberto up front, as South African Benni McCarthy dropped to the bench. Maniche, Costinha and the new Brazilian signing Diego made up the midfield, and Giourkas Seitaridis replaced the departed Paulo Ferreira at right-back.
CSKA started in a 3-1-4-2 formation with striker Vagner Love starting up front alongside Olic. Right-back Sergei Ignashevich was promoted to captain for the night after Sergei Semak was named among the substitutes.
The first half was dominated by the European champions as the Moscow side seemed content to sit back and allow Porto to enjoy most of the possession. Shots by Seitaridis and Diego in the first 15 minutes did little to worry Akinfeev in the CKSA goal, but a minute later Postiga was offered an excellent chance to open the scoring.
Quaresma swung an inviting cross in from the right flank, but the former Tottenham Hotspur FC striker was unable to reproduce the header he scored against England for Portugal during UEFA EURO 2004™ and his attempt flew over the bar.
The closest CSKA came to scoring was a deflected long-distance shot by midfield player Jirí Jarošik after 20 minutes, which forced Vítor Baía in the Porto goal into an acrobatic save.
Porto were not playing to the high standard they set on their way to winning the competition last season, but they were the more dangerous side throughout the first-half. They were a whisker away from scoring just after the half-hour mark when Diego struck a dipping free-kick into the box from the left wing. Jorge Costa glanced a header to the back post, but Postiga was unable to fully connect and the ball went narrowly wide.
The second half began much as the first had ended, with Porto on the attack. On 51 minutes Postiga was fortunate to find himself through on goal and the striker’s toe-poke beat Akinfeev, but the shot struck the post and the ball rebounded away to safety.
The Brazilian striker Luis Fabian came on for his Porto debut to rapturous applause on 64 minutes, replacing Carlos Alberto up front, but it was CSKA who seized the initiative as twice Olic came close on 66 minutes. First the Croatian striker hit the post with a low strike, then seconds later shot from the edge of the area, only to be denied by the crossbar.
Porto hit back and only Akinfeev kept CSKA in the game on 70 minutes when both Quaresma and Postiga had shots saved by the Russian goalkeeper. Then on 80 minutes Benni McCarthy brought the crowd to its feet with his first touch - a wonderful overhead kick from six metres which flew narrowly over the crossbar. Porto threw men forward, but to the frustration of the home side they were unable to break the deadlock.
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