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Jesualdo Ferreira celebrated his 100th win in charge of FC Porto as Hulk inspired a 2-1 comeback victory over APOEL FC that strengthened the Portuguese titleholders' hand in UEFA Champions League Group D.
Caught cold by the Cypriot outfit's first real foray forward on 22 minutes, which ended with Álvaro Pereira helping the ball over his own goalline, Porto reacted with wounded pride and levelled through the excellent Hulk eleven minutes later. The Brazilian striker was a constant menace and it was fitting that he should deliver the telling blow, scoring from the spot three minutes into the second period. Mariano González's late dismissal gave APOEL hope of salvaging a draw, yet they never really threatened to add to their solitary point in the section.
Their defensive injury concerns worsened by Christos Kontis's pre-match withdrawal, APOEL nonetheless kept faith in the cautious approach that had posed their previous opponents problems. A style based on closing spaces and harrying the opposition, it tested Porto's talent for invention, although Hulk almost passed that examination single-handedly with 14 minutes gone. The No12 raced past three defenders down the right before shooting off target.
That effort aside, he and his colleagues were reduced to trying their luck from distance, until a close-range overhead attempt from Cristián Rodríguez, claimed by APOEL goalkeeper Dionisios Chiotis, suggested they were finally zeroing in on their objective. To general surprise, however, the deadlock was broken at the other end, Pereira bundling the ball into his own net in an attempt to prevent Constantinos Charalambides from connecting with Chrysostomos Michail's centre from the left.
Briefly stunned, the hosts responded 12 minutes before half-time and it was a defensive mistake that let them in. APOEL's Portuguese midfielder Hélio Pinto headed the ball back towards his own area, only to feed Falcao, who skipped past a challenge and set up Hulk to slot low into the far corner. Soon after, Bruno Alves fired over from an indirect free-kick inside the box and Mariano fizzed an effort wide as Porto looked to make their dominance count.
If Ivan Jovanović's APOEL had finished the first period on the ropes, they began the second on the canvas as Hulk converted from the spot following Marios Elia's handball. Having switched flanks, the talented forward then fed Falcao with a perfect low cross which his attacking partner somehow failed to bury. Hulk also elicited a Chiotis save with a vicious drive.
The home team were clearly anxious to put the contest beyond their rivals, but their intensity slowly waned. APOEL duly started to venture forward and, with 66 minutes gone, they attempted their first shot with Nectarios Alexandrou bringing Helton into the game. The visitors' hopes were further aided by a 74th-minute red card for González after he had clashed with Nuno Morais. Even that numerical advantage was not enough to get them back in, though, and they will need to be more adventurous when they welcome the same opponents on 3 November.
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