Goals from Tarik Sektioui and Lisandro López earned FC Porto a narrow victory against Olympique de Marseille that took the Portuguese side to the top of UEFA Champions League Group A.
Porto press on
Sektioui strode clear to give Porto a 27th-minute lead with a fine solo strike, although that advantage was wiped out by Mamadou Niang's diving header two minutes into the second period. But just when another 1-1 draw seemed likely following the teams' Matchday 3 stalemate, López headed in the decisive goal with 12 minutes remaining to take his side above their opponents at the summit.
Perhaps buoyed by the Lucho González penalty that had rescued a point at Marseille a fortnight ago, Porto started on the front foot, and in the first minute stand-in captain Bruno Alves flicked an unorthodox effort over the crossbar following Ricardo Quaresma's free-kick. The visitors did not take long to get into their stride either, Lorik Cana striding away from two defenders to unleash a shot that Helton beat away, before the alert Milan Stepanov cleared Mathieu Valbuena's right-wing cross with Niang ready to pounce.
The promising opening proved to be somewhat misleading, as both teams then adopted a cautious approach with Marseille frustrating the attacking ambitions of their hosts by retaining possession in midfield. However, out of nowhere the deadlock was broken in considerable style close to the half-hour. Sektioui picked up the ball just inside his own half and displayed a terrific burst of pace to glide away from three challenges before rounding the advancing Steve Mandanda and calmly rolling the ball into an unguarded net.
Marseille caught cold
The Moroccan midfielder nearly undid the OM defence again with another pacy surge in the 34th minute, his fine foray forward almost creating an opportunity for Marek Čech but the pass was fractionally over-hit. Erik Gerets's men finally managed to regroup as half-time approached and carved out a presentable chance for Niang, who could only drag his shot into the side-netting. The Senegalese striker made amends in perfect fashion two minutes into the second half, though, diving in front of Stepanov to head Laurent Bonnart's right-wing cross past Helton.
Porto replied swiftly, a Raul Meireles centre narrowly evading López, although Cana might have put Marseille in front, nodding Samir Nasri's free-kick centimetres wide. That escape prompted Porto coach Jesualdo Ferreira to replace midfielder Čech with a forward, Hélder Postiga, yet it was a player who was already on the pitch who came closest to restoring the home side's lead – López heading Quaresma's cross against the top of the crossbar from close range with 19 minutes left.
It mattered not as the Portuguese title-holders regained the initiative on 78 minutes, López providing the perfect finish to Quaresma's pinpoint centre. Porto almost added gloss to the scoreline in the final ten minutes, when Postiga and Fucile both threatened from distance, but Porto had already done enough.