By Andy Hall at the Santiago Bernabéu
Real Madrid CF secured first place in UEFA Champions League Group F with a 1-1 draw at home to FC Porto. However, they were given a scare by their Iberian neighbours, who could easily have taken the three points from their visit to the Spanish capital.
Big names rested
With qualification assured, Madrid coach Carlos Queiroz took the opportunity to rest several of his high-profile stars: goalkeeper Iker Casillas and midfield player David Beckham started the match on the bench, while Iván Helguera and Raúl González were rested. His opposite number, José Mourinho, also opted to make changes as Jorge Costa, Mario Silva, Bosingwa, Nuno Ribeiro Maniche and Benni McCarthy were all left out.
Porto demonstrated their resolve from the kick-off, launching a flurry of attacks during the opening five minutes, with Russian forward Dmitri Alenichev leading the Portuguese side's early pressure. However, they were unable to convert their positive start into tangible rewards, and the home side came more into the match as the initial pressure subsided.
Madrid went close through Roberto Carlos, who powerfully struck one of his trademark shots over the crossbar, before the Spanish champions took the lead in the ninth minute. Argentinian midfield player Santiago Solari was on the end of a fine move that also involved Zinedine Zidane and Luís Figo, before Ronaldo's dummy gave Solari the chance to shoot past an outstretched Vítor Baía from a tight angle on the left wing.
The visitors continued with their advances on goal, but rarely managed to break past Madrid's rearguard. In contrast, the home side looked dangerous with each attack. Figo had the ball in the net again on the half-hour, only to see his effort ruled out for offside.
Deco on the spot
Porto's Derlei forced César Sánchez into action at the opposite end as his header was turned round the post by the Madrid goalkeeper. The mood in the stadium changed nine minutes before half-time, though, when Porto were awarded a penalty; Míchel Salgado the culprit for felling Deco. Derlei converted the resulting spot-kick, shooting high into the net to level the scores.
Real coach Queiroz took off Ronaldo at half-time and introduced Javier Portillo, but the change did not signal a drop in pressure from the Spanish side, who congregated in Porto's half from the restart. Once again Roberto Carlos tested the visiting goal, sending another powerful effort just too high, while Porto's early pressure seemed a distant memory. The visitors were rarely able to threaten César's goal, and the game descended into a midfield stalemate with neither side prepared to take the risks needed to find a winner.
Madrid perked up midway through the half and attempted to regain the lead. Vítor Baía tipped over a goalbound Zidane free-kick on 71 minutes and then denied Francisco Pavón in the midst of a desperate goalmouth scramble.
Madrid continued to press, with Argentinian midfield player Esteban Cambiasso unlucky to volley centimetres past the post on 77 minutes as the home team went in search of a winner. But Porto nearly surprised their hosts, substitute Bosingwa sending in a long-range effort which César was forced to tip over, while Derlei also came close in the closing seconds.