FC Porto carried their superb domestic form into the UEFA Cup by defeating RC Lens 3-0 in the first leg of their UEFA Cup third-round tie.
The Portuguese side went into the match in buoyant mood after establishing a five-point advantage over great rivals Sporting Clube de Portugal in the Super Liga, and it showed as two first-half efforts from Hélder Postiga and a third goal after the break from Edgaras Jankauskas sealed a handsome victory.
Inspirational midfield player Deco was the pivot about which Porto's most creative play turned, the Brazilian teasing Lens from the outset with an array of neat touches and perceptive passes. Yet Deco was not afraid to mix it when necessary and created the first chance from nothing in the 14th minute after dispossessing Adama Coulibaly.
Two fine saves
The resulting stinging drive from the edge of the box was met with an equally fine save by goalkeeper Guillaume Warmuz. The Lens custodian had no time to reflect on maintaining parity as Porto's next attack ended with Warmuz brilliantly tipping a powerful Nuno Capucho header over the bar for a corner.
After 34 minutes, however, Warmuz was beaten for the first time. Hélder Postiga collected possession some distance from goal but the fleet-footed striker's foray forward saw him leave the Lens defence in his wake before a powerful shot from a tight ankle squirmed through the hands of the visiting keeper.
A 1-0 deficit at the interval may have given Lens hope of a second-half revival, yet such dreams were dashed on the cusp of half-time as Hélder Postiga doubled Porto's advantage, with questions again being raised about Warmuz's inability not to keep out the shot.
Unsurprisingly, given the look on coach Jöel Müller's face as he made his way down the tunnel after the opening 45 minutes, Lens looked altogether more enterprising after the break. John Utaka was the principal reason behind this, the Nigerian's vision creating an opening for Olivier Thomert whose shot was saved by Porto keeper Vítor Baía.
Five minutes later, in the 51st minute, Utaka found himself clear in the box but Vítor Baía, an experienced Portuguese international, used all his knowledge to usher the striker wide from where the angle was too narrow. Forced to commit men forward, Lens had to be aware of Porto's rapid counterattacks, one such raid bringing the third goal in the 87th minute.
Champions League wins
After recently competing in the UEFA Champions League, Lens must have been hoping for an easier ride than the one Porto gave them tonight. All might appear lost but if the French challengers can recall the spirit which saw them account for AC Milan and RC Deportivo La Coruña at the Félix-Bollaert stadium then a fascinating second leg could still be in prospect.
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