Francisco José Rodrigues da Costa has earned a reputation for a hard-tackling, ferocious style of play, and tonight in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg at the Estádio do Dragão, Olympique Lyonnais will find out all about it.
The Portuguese international midfield player, aka Costinha, was FC Porto's unlikely goalscoring hero in the last round. Forced to miss the first leg against Manchester United FC due to suspension, he was back for the return at Old Trafford and, despite not having one of his better games, struck the decisive equaliser in the dying minutes.
'Very important goal'
"I have watched the goal millions of times," Costinha told uefa.com yesterday. "It was a very important goal for me, because I wasn't having a very good game. I wasn't playing the way I would like to play. But I will keep that moment inside my soul forever. These kinds of sensations are just too difficult for me to describe."
'Nothing has been achieved'
Costinha is aware that with victory over one of Europe's leading teams comes further expectation and pressure. "It was an important match and important for the club to advance to this stage," said the 29-year-old. "Now we have more responsibilities. Everyone thinks that us getting Lyon after Manchester United makes us favourites, but we must think that nothing has been achieved and must continue to work for the future.
"We played against one of the biggest teams in the world and our prestige has increased since then. We also have our own visions to think about - the players, the coach - and maybe the victory was more important for our own futures."
Of the Portuguese champions' next opponents, Costinha was respectfully cautious: "
They are very good, a hard team and very quick in attack. They have lots of experience with the two Brazilian players [Giovane Elber and Juninho Pernambucano]. But I think if we play and concentrate like we did against Manchester United, if we play determined to win, then maybe we will have our chances. For that we must be at our best, because if you give an inch to a Lyon player he can cause you damage."
Costinha also assessed his team's prospects of going all the way in this competition. "It would be great," he said, "but we have to think reasonably. We have lots of big clubs still in the competition: Real Madrid [CF], [AC] Milan, Arsenal [FC]. If we beat Lyon we will play [RC Deportivo La] Coruña or Milan. They are two very big clubs, but first we have to play Lyon. They play nice football, they have a young and very intelligent, ambitious coach [Paul Le Guen] - but we also have our ambitions."
Having collected his fourth yellow card of the campaign at Old Trafford, Costinha's uncompromising approach may mean his own ambitions have to be put on hold again for the second leg of this tie. Like team-mate Maniche and Lyon's Anthony Réveillère, he is one booking short of another suspension but there is no chance of him holding back. "It's normal, and if I have to get another yellow card for my team, I will do it," said Costinha.
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