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Porto prove too strong for Atlético

Published: Thursday 12 March 2009, 0.40CET
Porto 0-0 Club Atlético de Madrid (agg: 2-2, Porto win on away goals)
FC Porto progressed to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since lifting the trophy in 2004 after an impressive home display.
by Andy Brassell
from Estádio do Dragão
Porto prove too strong for Atlético
Raul Meireles and Lucho celebrate after full time ©Getty Images
Published: Thursday 12 March 2009, 0.40CET

Porto prove too strong for Atlético

Porto 0-0 Club Atlético de Madrid (agg: 2-2, Porto win on away goals)
FC Porto progressed to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since lifting the trophy in 2004 after an impressive home display.

Club Atlético de Madrid were made to pay for their cavalier defending in the first leg as FC Porto progressed to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since lifting the trophy in 2003/04.

Porto on top
Ultimately Lisandro's two away goals in the 2-2 draw at the Vicente Calderón a fortnight ago proved the difference between the sides, but it could have been much, much more. The hosts dominated from the off, Bruno Alves being denied by the woodwork early on; he would not be the last. For all their intent the Spanish visitors never really looked like stealing the initiative and it was they who ended the match on the back foot, only a combination of keeper Leo Franco's brilliance and Porto's profligacy ensuring a goalless draw on the night.

Attacking vim
Porto coach Jesualdo Ferreira said on the eve of the game that he believed attack would be the best form of defence at the Estádio do Dragão, and if that adage is true then they were watertight in the opening stages. Within two minutes of kick-off, Rolando had headed a Lucho free-kick narrowly wide and it proved a sign of things to come. Lisandro threatened following Hulk's fine cross-field pass, his effort being deflected wide, before a long-range Raul Meireles shot looped up off a defender and into the grateful arms of Franco.

Home dominance
The Rojiblancos had to score at least once to have any opportunity of progressing but they were struggling to get out of their own half and, if they needed any reminder of the pressure they were under, Alves provided it when he skimmed the crossbar with a curling free-kick. Atlético snapped from their torpor and, with 15 minutes on the clock, Luis Perea had their first attempt on goal, Helton getting down smartly to save.

Atlético revival
The away team were warming to the task and, after Fernando had tested Franco with a fierce volley, Abel Resino's side went close to breaking the deadlock. Sergio Agüero broke on the counterattack, outstripping right-back Cristian Săpunaru, and his intelligent pass across the face of goal only just eluded Maxi Rodríguez. Atlético were showing more and more urgency and, in an inversion of the start of the match, they began the second period brightly, Resino bringing on extra fire power in the shape of Diego Forlán after 54 minutes.

Higher tempo
Still it was the Portuguese champions who continued to look the more likely scorers. Franco nervously scrambled one Lisandro effort away with Lucho lurking and it took a last-ditch intervention from Tomáš Ujfaluši to stop the marauding Hulk in his tracks. Atlético had no option; they had to throw caution to the wind. It merely opened the door to more Porto pressure, however, Rolando bringing a fine reaction save from Franco with a powerful header although the keeper's best was yet to come. After Hulk had grazed the crossbar with a corner, the Atlético No25 brilliantly diverted the Brazilian forward's low cross wide of Lisandro, waiting behind him with the goal at his mercy. Lisandro did get past Franco before the end, rounding the keeper only to send his shot against the upright. It mattered not.

Last updated: 12/03/09 9.52CET

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