Ten-man Liverpool FC came from a goal down to start their UEFA Champions League Group A campaign with a valuable point in the face of a wave of FC Porto attacks.
The five-time European champions fell behind in the eighth minute, Lucho González beating Pepe Reina from the penalty spot after the goalkeeper had felled Tarik Sektioui, but quickly levelled thanks to Dirk Kuyt's close-range header. Porto continued to look the more likely scorers yet were unable to capitalise on the 58th-minute dismissal of visiting winger Jermaine Pennant for a second yellow card.
Porto coach Jesualdo Ferreira had insisted his team were not underdogs; and they duly attacked from the start with an urgency that reflected such confidence. Liverpool were unable to get out of their own half for the first five minutes. Reina saved from Lisandro López at close range in the second minute after Ricardo Quaresma had charged down Steve Finnan's attempted clearance. Moments later Quaresma's diagonal shot from outside the box whistled over the Liverpool keeper's crossbar.
The home side then took the lead that their early pressure had threatened. Sektioui was brought down by Reina as he tried to round the Liverpool No1, and González placed his spot-kick straight down the middle as the keeper dived to his left. The advantage proved short-lived, however. Kuyt equalised against the run of play nine minutes later when Finnan's long free-kick was nodded back across goal by the recalled Sami Hyypiä, allowing the Dutch international to head past Nuno from point-blank range.
That shock slowed down Porto's frenetic attacking, although the hosts continued to have the better of the chances. Pennant was booked in the 25th minute for a foul on the ever-dangerous Quaresma and from the winger's resulting free-kick, Porto went close to regaining the initiative: Bruno Alves nodding just wide after defensive partner João Paulo's clever header had wrong-footed the Liverpool rearguard.
Despite Rafael Benítez's attack-minded selection – deploying Pennant and Ryan Babel on the wings – Porto still did most of the pressing as the second half unfolded. Quaresma's centre from the right sought out López but dropped just over the Argentinian forward's head. The locals were given further encouragement when Liverpool went down to ten men shortly before the hour, Pennant earning a second caution for a late tackle on Fucile. They attempted to exploit that advantage immediately, the impressive Hyypiä being forced to clear Quaresma's effort off the line after Reina had collided with Jamie Carragher.
Porto's bid to turn their numerical superiority into tangible reward foundered, though, as Liverpool's famously secure defence held firm. Benítez introduced Fábio Aurélio – returning from injury – as the visitors settled for a point, although it was Kuyt who came closest to snatching a late winner. The covering Quaresma had to knock the ball off his toe as the Dutchman closed in on Nuno.
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.