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FC Porto appear on course to reach the last four of the UEFA Europa League after a Falcao hat-trick helped establish a convincing quarter-final first-leg win against FC Spartak Moskva.
The Dragons were three goals to the good, through Falcao's 37th-minute opener and second-half efforts from Silvestre Varela and a Dmitri Kombarov own goal, when Kirill Kombarov gave the visitors hope. Falcao extinguished that, however, with a double in the closing six minutes which completed his second hat-trick in the competition this season and took him on to ten European goals overall.
Having won the Portuguese Liga title on Sunday, local hopes were high that André Villas-Boas' side could continue the celebrations. It was the visitors, though, who went close to surprising their opponents in the opening stages, with Welliton guilty of spurning two fine opportunities.
Spurred on by a vociferous home support, Porto slowly started to come into the game midway through the half, with the improving Hulk disappointed to see a dip at goal from the right fly past Andriy Dykan's far post.
Undeterred, the hosts continued to press and eventually found an opening eight minutes before the break. Receiving possession in midfield, João Moutinho spread a pass left for Alvaro Pereira, whose menacing, bouncing centre was met by Falcao.
He went close again shortly afterwards, this time aiming a downward header just wide of the upright after a cross from Hulk, who got things moving after the restart with a thumping free-kick that crashed down off the crossbar.
With Valeri Karpin's men beginning to fade, Porto took full advantage, going 2-0 up when Varela volleyed in Falcao's chested pass. It would get worse for Spartak not long afterwards when a combination of Dykan and Dmitri Kombarov failed to deal with Maicon's downward header from a Moutinho corner.
Spartak then received a lifeline within seconds when Kirill Kombarov – receiving Artem Dzyuba's pass in acres of space – calmly slotted past Helton. That was as good as it got for Spartak, though, with Falcao scoring twice in the closing stages, first with gusto from close range after connecting with James Rodríguez's cross and then completing his hat-trick by heading in Fernando Belluschi's set piece.
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