FC Artmedia Bratislava's 3-2 triumph at FC Porto last night was greeted with astonishment in Slovakia after Vladimir Weiss's side became the country's first to collect points in the UEFA Champions League.
The nation's only sports daily Sport led with the headline "Europe stunned: Artmedia conquer Porto". It wasn't just the victory, but the manner of victory that so amazed. Artmedia had battled back from two goals down to defeat the 2004 European champions. Artmedia were "like a phoenix rising from the ashes", Sport continued.
Porto had jumped into a two-goal lead by the 39th minute, but crucially Peter Petráš pulled one back in first-half stoppage time. It was Artmedia's first goal in four Champions League games since their astonishing 5-0 second qualifying round win against Celtic FC, and it proved the catalyst for success.
"We played with our hearts," coach Weiss said. "After Petráš scored, I sent on Juraj Halenár and told my players during the break that 'it is better to lose 5-2 than not try to get something'. It worked."
And how. To the astonishment of all watching Slovakians, Ján Kozák and Balázs Borbély added second-half strikes to complete a memorable victory. Daily newspaper Nový Èas hailed a "wonder as Artmedia rewrote history" while Pravda was straight to the point with its headline: "Sensation". SME acknowledged: "They wanted one point but picked up three."
Match reports alluded to UEFA EURO 2004™ and Greece's triumph in Portugal. The Portuguese would not have wanted to be reminded of that - another surprise result, another stunning defeat on home soil.
"Open your mouth Europe!" screamed A Bola, open-mouthed itself in disbelief. "It is impossible to hide the sadness of this unexpected result against modest Artmedia. The Porto players could not find the words to explain what happened in a game that had started so well for them."
Record was even more damning. "Scandal in the Dragão - anniversary defeat." Porto fans, the paper said, had come to celebrate the club's 112th birthday. Someone had forgotten to tell Artmedia. "Porto lost for the second time in the 2005/06 Champions League, this time a totally unexpected 3-2 defeat by Artmedia. On the day of the club's 112th birthday, the Dragons dominated the game and scored two goals, but they allowed the Slovakians to come back in the second half."
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