FC Porto reached the fourth round of the UEFA Cup tonight, despite losing 1-0 to French side RC Lens at the Félix-Bollaert stadium.
The French side needed to go on the offensive from the first whistle after conceding three goals in Portugal in the first leg and created a great chance after 15 minutes when midfield player Antoine Sibierski was deprived by a last-ditch tackle when almost one-on-one with Portuguese international goalkeeper Victor Baía. But moments later Porto should have struck when a well-crafted move allowed Nuno Ribeiro time and space to fire a fierce effort from distance which fizzed just inches wide of Charles Intandje's goal.
The Portuguese were to regret missing the chance as Lens took the lead against the run of play on 29 minutes. Former West Ham United FC and Liverpool FC defender Rigobert Song latched on to Daniel Moreira's corner and slammed in the ball from close range after John Utaka's challenge on Baía forced the goalkeeper out of position.
Lens could have doubled the lead before the break – but Moreira's shot was well saved by Baía, who was relatively untroubled in the second period as Porto showcased their superior technical skills and kept possession for long periods. The dominance did translate to opportunities but Derlei was deprived on two occasions by Itandje, who enjoyed a fine night. The Brazilian striker made the shot-stopper pull off two quality saves, on 60 minutes and in the dying stages, to ensure a consolation victory for the home team.
Porto coach José Mourinho, however, is confident his side can win the competition. "
I think this team can go all the way as we are full of confidence. We were the better team throughout the and did not deserve to lose tonight." Counterpart Joël Muller wished the Portuguese well. "I want to wish Porto good luck. We wanted to take revenge and we needed to score sooner than we did to have a real chance. We could not keep up with them in the second half."