Falcao scored the only goal as FC Porto completed back-to-back victories against APOEL FC to qualify for the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds with two matches to play in Group D.
Playing for third
Porto had shaded a tight match when Falcao made amends for missing an earlier one-on-one by finishing superbly from outside the area with six minutes to play. The victory sends Porto through along with Chelsea FC after their draw at Club Atlético de Madrid, leaving APOEL and the Spanish club to fight for third spot and a place in the UEFA Europa League.
The goalkeepers were to the fore in the first half, particularly Dionisios Chiotis who was central to much of the drama. The Greek comfortably saved the first effort to come his way, from Raul Meireles in the second minute, and was largely untroubled until almost fumbling a hopeful cross from Hulk into his net in the 26th minute. Chiotis made amends soon after, keeping both his eye on the ball and his nerve to deny Hulk as the Brazilian looked to burst clear on goal after being freed by Fredy Guarín's clever through ball.
Helton also made an eye-catching save to keep Porto on terms in the 14th minute. Nenad Mirosavljević 's turned well on the edge of the box to create space for a left-footed shot which was curling into the top corner before the visiting No1 leapt across goal to palm it to safety with his wrong hand. APOEL's Portuguese midfielder Hélio Pinto then had a chance to score against his countrymen with the final chance of the half, only to head wide from Jean Paulista's cross from the left.
Although APOEL began the second half with more zest, it was not long before Hulk – the scorer of both goals when Porto beat the Cypriot champions a fortnight ago – was making his presence felt again. The striker powered through a couple of challenges just outside the box in the 55th minute to work an opening for Falcao who had time to pick his spot but could only find the frame of Chiotis, well placed to deny the Colombian.
Sub makes mark
The game had now opened up and although Constantinos Charalambides found himself increasingly involved down the APOEL right, it was 61st-minute substitute Nectarios Alexandrou who looked the most threatening. The 25-year-old almost found Charalambides with a deep cross and then released Mirosavljević in the area only for the Serbian to shoot straight into the arms of Helton from a decent position.
Falcao would make no mistake as the game looked to be heading for a draw, however, as he collected a pass from Cristián Rodríguez some 25 metres from goal before drilling a lovely low shot into the corner of Chiotis's net. A Porto win against Chelsea on 25 November would clinch first place; APOEL will aim to defeat Atlético here the same night to move into third.