A late, and utterly unexpected, goal from Argentinian defender Fernando Ávalos was enough to send Boavista FC into the last eight of the UEFA Cup at the expense of a plucky and extremely unlucky Hertha BSC Berlin side.
Generating scenes of wild joy at the Bessa stadium in Porto, Ávalos latched on to a flick from Alexandre Goulart to head in at far post from just three metres with six minutes remaining. A period of frantic play ensued, which, combined with another six minutes of added time, gave the game an excitement and quality unseen in the previous 84 minutes that saw both sides down to ten men after a committed and often fierce opening hour.
The visitors were the first side to lose a man, Hungarian Pál Dárdai receiving his marching orders for two yellow cards in the 68th minute. Anunciacáo followed him 13 minutes later as the game developed into a free-flowing spectacle a world apart from the largely dour opening hour. Indeed the only save of any note through the whole 90 minutes was a quite superb dive from Boavista goalkeeper Ricardo who kept out a well-struck volley from Thorben Marx on 73 minutes.
The first half was poor with Hertha happy to sit back and soak up the regular Boavista attacks that lacked any sort of cutting edge. The best chance came in the opening minutes when Silva muscled his way past two defenders in the area but his low shot was tipped around the right-hand post by Gábor Kiraly.
That apart, Kiraly's only action of note in an opening half where at times tempers threatened to boil over was a save from a well-placed but powerless free-kick from Pedrosa after 29 minutes. Four yellow cards in the first half-hour were testament to the commitment on show but the chances simply never came and the lack of confidence in their forward play by Boavista threatened to undo much of their promising build-ups.
Brazilian winger Silva was to the fore down the right flank early on but his efforts were undermined by the solid defending of Hertha captain Michael Preetz and Josip Simunic who easily dealt with the tepid Boavista attack. A switch to the left for Silva ten minutes before the break failed to bring any change.
Sole threat from Hertha
Alex Alves, with a poorly directed shot across goal for Hertha after 27 minutes, provided the sole threat of any note from the visitors in the opening hour. They will, though, count themselves unlucky not to progress and were ultimately undone by the two goals conceded in Berlin two weeks ago.