FC Porto brought the curtain down on European football at the Das Antas stadium with a comfortable victory over FK Partizan in Group F to ensure their passage through to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League.
A goal in each half from the South Africa striker Benni McCarthy saw Porto leave the Das Antas ahead of their switch to the recently completed Estádio do Dragão on a winning note, in the process consigning Partizan to a defeat that leaves the Belgrade side with a place in the UEFA Cup to fight for when they host Olympique de Marseille on Matchday 6.
Porto dominated possession in the opening stages without troubling Djordje Pantic in the Partizan goal. Even with Deco back following suspension, the home side struggled to find their rhythm and settle into their normally expansive game on a slippery pitch on a wet night.
On the first occasion that they were able to get in behind the Partizan defence, however, they made it count. The impressive Mário Silva cut down the left and crossed low for McCarthy who mistimed his shot, missing the ball completely. Fortunately for the South African, it bounced straight to Maniche who shot powerfully from the edge of the area. Pantic got down low to his left to make the save, but the striker was on hand to tap in the rebound.
Partizan push forward
With the goal, the game opened up. Three minutes later, a beautiful curling effort from McCarthy just missed at the far post, while at the other end, Partizan were beginning to find sight of goal.
The visiting side pressed down the right and on 29 minutes Milivoje Cirkovic cut into the box and drew a first save from Vítor Baía. The right wing-back was involved again moments later in Partizan's best move of the half, helping to release Ivica Iliev whose low cross into the box was met powerfully on the volley by Andrija Delibašic, only for Baía to pull off an excellent reflex save.
Pantic to the rescue
At the other end, Deco slipped McCarthy through on goal on 42 minutes, but Pantic dove low to touch behind his powerful strike. Partizan coach Lothar Matthäus, without defender Taribo West and veteran goalkeeper Ivica Kralj, had been forced to make three changes from the side that had held Real Madrid CF to a draw on Matchday 4, and as the match progressed Porto's dominance grew, with Deco increasingly influential in midfield.
McCarthy makes it safe
On 50 minutes it was his through-ball that looked to release McCarthy down the centre. Branko Savic got to it first, but the defender mis-hit his pass back to Pantic, allowing McCarthy to steal in and tap in his second goal of the night from on the goalline.
Partizan again attempted to muster a fightback - Nenad Djordjevic and Iliev shooting wide in quick succession midway through the half - but Porto were in command, willing to sit back and protect their two-goal lead.
The introduction of the former Porto favourite Ljubinko Drulovic on 78 minutes gave Partizan more of an attacking edge and the former Yugoslavian international was immediately into the action, bursting down the left and crossing for the unmarked Delibašic, who headed over at the far post. In added time the young striker made amends, picking up a loose ball in the box and turning Baía to give Partizan late consolation, but not the point they so craved.