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FC Porto defender Álvaro Pereira paid tribute to his team's "bravery and strength" after his own goal forced them to come from behind to see off APOEL FC 2-1 in Group D.
Uruguayan international Pereira steered past Helton, his own goalkeeper, from the visitors' first attack as he tried to deny Konstantinos Charalambides with 22 minutes gone, but the breakthrough merely roused the hosts into action. They were level eleven minutes later when Hulk slid a shot low into the far corner after good work from Falcao and the Brazilian striker capped an excellent performance by hitting the winner from the penalty spot three minutes after half-time.
"We fought hard and tried to play well," said Pereira. "Fortunately we were able to fight back after going down. Their goal came because I tried to stop their forward scoring from a cross only for the ball to head off in the wrong direction, resulting in an own goal for me. That's the kind of thing that happens in football and as a professional you have to live with it. The most important thing is that we showed bravery and strength to come back and win the match."
The result consolidated Jesualdo Ferreira's troops in second spot behind their UEFA Champions League section leaders Chelsea FC, with APOEL now five points behind them in third ahead of the return meeting in Cyprus on 3 November. The margin of victory at the Estádio do Dragão could have been substantially more emphatic too, as Porto racked up 32 shots to their opponents' five, yet with Mariano González sent off 16 minutes from time they were pleased simply to come away with the win. "The first half was even and then we scored our second goal at the right time, just after the break," added Pereira. "After that we could have added many more, but in the end we secured the most important thing – the three points."
Another maximum haul at the GSP Stadium on Matchday 4 would take the Dragons through to the first knockout round for the fourth year in succession, providing Club Atlético de Madrid fail to defeat Chelsea in the Spanish capital, but Pereira was reluctant to start plotting the Dragons' route through the competition. "I think we're still growing as a team," the 24-year-old commented. "There's still a lot to play for in the group, so let's wait and see what happens, but we're definitely on the right track."
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