After a nightmare start to their UEFA Champions League campaign, FC Porto resurrected their hopes of progress from Group H with an impressive win against FC Internazionale Milano. There was an element of fortune about both goals, but inspired by the brilliant Ricardo Quaresma, they outclassed their illustrious visitors who dropped their first points.
The Portuguese side, European champions in 2004, had started with consecutive 3-2 defeats by Rangers FC and FC Artmedia and had looked on the brink of elimination. However, they are now back in the hunt for qualification, thanks to Marco Materazzi's own goal and a Benni McCarthy volley that deflected heavily off Juan Sebastián Verón. Lucky perhaps, but this was a much-improved performance from Co Adriaanse's team.
Following those opening losses, Adriaanse attempted to avert the slide with a raft of changes. Striker Lisandro López and defender Bruno Alves were injured and the Dutch coach made four further alterations to the side beaten 2-0 by SL Benfica at the weekend.
Adriano left out
Adriaanse's Inter counterpart, Roberto Mancini, decided against recalling Adriano after the forward returned late from international duty with Brazil. But winger Luís Figo, back on home soil, was given a starting place. David Pizarro was also added to the team that thrashed AS Livorno Calcio 5-0 on Sunday – Alvaro Recoba and Zé Maria dropping to the bench.
Inter began the stronger, with a Materazzi header being deflected over from close range and Julio Cruz going one-on-one with Vítor Baía, only for the veteran goalkeeper to save with his right boot.
It was Porto who took the lead, though, in bizarre circumstances on 22 minutes. Right-back Bosingwa curled in an awkward cross from deep and Walter Samuel was unable to head clear. The ball's flight caught Materazzi by surprise and it ricocheted off his knee and beyond a stunned Júlio César.
McCarthy on mark
McCarthy doubled the advantage 12 minutes later, making amends after missing a great early opportunity. When Verón tripped Jorginho on the edge of the box, McCarthy opted to shoot from the ensuing free-kick. His first effort was blocked but the ball dropped straight back to him on the volley and he struck it into the bottom corner with the help of a deflection off Verón.
The inspiration for Porto's impressive showing was the recalled Quaresma. Inter had no answer to the forward's pace and poise, with acting Inter captain Iván Córdoba forced into fouling him five times before the interval.
Esteban Cambiasso twice had the chance to reduce the deficit in the early stages of the second half. The Inter midfielder fired over from eight metres after Vítor Baía had done well to parry a Santiago Solari shot, and then from substitute Recoba's corner, he nodded against Pepe and over from just two metres.
Fortune certainly seemed to be favouring the hosts. On 62 minutes Recoba's cross deceived Vítor Baía, who could only palm against the far post. The ball bounced on to Figo, back on to the woodwork and then to safety. Recoba was at the heart of everything, his centres deserving better finishes from fellow substitute Adriano and the hard-working Cruz. Then Cambiasso squandered the easiest opportunity of the lot in added time. It was simply not Inter's night.