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A rampant FC Porto took a giant step towards the UEFA Cup final after they demolished S.S. Lazio in their semi-final first-leg match at Das Antas stadium. After an early goal from Claudio López for the visitors, Porto hit back with two goals from Derlei and one each for Maniche and Hélder Postiga.
Under pouring rain, Porto gave a mesmerising display of attacking football that left the Italian side bemused and fortunate to have conceded only four goals over the course of an extraordinary game.
Lazio got the best start they could have hoped for with a goal on five minutes. After some slack passing around the box from the hosts, Guiseppe Favalli broke to the by-line on the left and pulled a low ball back to López, who made no mistake with a low first-time finish from eight metres out.
Porto soon recovered their composure, however. Hélder Postiga's pace was ceaselessly exposing a flat-footed Lazio backline and it was no surprise when they equalised on ten minutes. The ball came to Maniche 25 metres from goal, and as the Lazio defenders stood off, he curled a shot that the stranded Angelo Peruzzi could only palm into the net.
The goal gave Porto the confidence they needed and José Mourinho's men were soon on top. Four minutes later they had a goal disallowed for offside, before Peruzzi closed down Hélder Postiga as he broke forward. On this form the young striker looked unstoppable.
On 27 minutes, the pressure told and Porto took a deserved lead. Deco had won a corner with a near-post shot and he swung the resulting kick in from the right. Derlei jumped unchallenged to head down and across Peruzzi and into the net via a bemused Jorge Costa.
Costa himself missed a point-blank header and Peruzzi made a masterful point-blank reaction save to deny Hélder Postiga as Porto looked to bury their opponents. Maniche would also squander a chance when clean through with half-time approaching.
The second half was just as dazzling. Only eight minutes in, and Porto had scored a third. Deco's 35-metre free-kick skidded off the slippery turf and was spilled by Peruzzi straight to the feet of Derlei, who tapped in his second of the game.
There was no end to the pressure and on 57 minutes the hosts scored their fourth. Hélder Postiga got the goal his performance deserved as he scurried on to a clever ball into the box to fire past Peruzzi and in off the near post.
With Deco full of ingenuity in midfield, Porto could easily have scored more but for the alert Peruzzi. Vítor Baía did make a brave save from Dejan Stankovic as the game drew to a close, but it was almost all one-way traffic. There was one sour note at the end though, as Porto coach Mourinho was sent to the stands for protesting at a challenge by substitute Lucas Castroman.
But after praising his team's magnificent performance, Mourinho was keen to retain a sense of balance. "We have a half-time advantage," he said. "There's 90 minutes to go and those will be very difficult. Lazio are a very good team and can cause us problems in Rome."
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