FC Porto 0-1 AC Sparta Praha. AC Sparta Praha remain unbeaten away in the UEFA Champions League after a second-half Libor Sionko goal gave them a crucial victory in FC Porto's Das Antas stadium.
The match got off to a flying start with both sides signalling their intent early on. Brazilian playmaker Deco fired in on four minutes but Petr Cech comfortably claimed. Pena turned dangerously in the box but could not get his shot away four minutes later.
Paulo Santos pulled off a fine save on 16 minutes when his visibility was clearly impaired by his own wall. Sionko tried from range from the ensuing corner but his shot floated wide.
Porto continued to press forward and their best effort came from the right boot of Deco, his powerful drive tipped round the post by the ever-alert Cech. The keeper was somewhat more fortunate as Deco’s corner almost curled inside his left post.
The away side had to soak up some concerted pressure towards the end of the first half with one of Deco’s vicious corners coming off Cech’s near post. The half was to end goalless as Sparta succeeded magnificently in frustrating a Porto side lacking sharpness in the vital areas.
Substitute goes close
Paulo Costa came on to replace the largely ineffectual Pena and almost put his name on the scoresheet straight from the off but his control let him down with only Cech to beat.
Out of sorts
The normally reliable Deco spurned another opportunity on 60 minutes, blasting his volley over the crossbar from inside the penalty area. Two minutes later and the impish Brazilian brought a marvellous save from a full-stretch Cech, palming the ball away for a corner.
A lapse of concentration from Paulo Santos on 75 minutes was to prove costly as the Porto keeper could not hold on to a Sionko header, the ball somehow escaping the keeper’s stranglehold to roll into the net.
Nuno Capucho delivered an excellent ball with eight minutes to go and Helder Postiga was only a whisker away as he saw his header rebound off the post. Four minutes later and Carlos Paredes fired in on the turn, his shot going agonisingly wide.
The second half was almost a personal battle between Deco and the Sparta keeper. Cech produced another outstanding save diving to his right to prevent a certain goal from the luckless Deco.
Jaroslav Hrébik’s men remain unbeaten away from home in this year’s Champions League and this hard-fought victory puts them in second place behind Real Madrid CF and could well go a long way to ensuring eventual qualification to the quarter-finals.