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FC Porto edged out Sevilla FC in an entertaining and tense UEFA Europa League quarter-final meeting at the Estádio do Dragão.
In this clash between a pair of two-time winners, it was the Portuguese side that carved out an advantage thanks to Eliaquim Mangala's emphatic first-half header. Unai Emery's uncharacteristically quiet team will hope to recover their attacking verve for next Thursday's return leg.
Porto, who knocked out the Andalusians in the round of 32 en route to lifting the trophy in 2010/11, started in confident mood, encouraged by a positive home crowd. Jackson Martínez and Steven Defour both had efforts from range in the first 20 minutes, yet without troubling goalkeeper Beto on his return to his former club.
Sevilla posed a threat on the counterattack, with Marko Marin denied by an excellent last-ditch tackle by Diego Reyes after good work by José Antonio Reyes. The visitors almost took the lead in bizarre fashion just before the half-hour mark, as keeper Fabiano parried Ivan Rakitić's free-kick straight at Martínez and the ball deflected narrowly wide of the Porto forward's own goal.
Yet it was Luís Castro's side that went in front on 31 minutes after a great piece of ingenuity, with Fernando sending a quickly taken free-kick out to Ricardo Quaresma on the left. Emery had pinpointed stand-in captain Mangala as a threat to his team and so it proved, as the France centre-back firmly headed in Quaresma's inviting cross, delivered with the outside of his right foot.
Beto made a sprawling stop from Quaresma's vicious volley as Porto strove to press home their advantage. Next, Defour smashed a long-range shot that brushed the keeper's fingertips before making a more resounding connection with the near post as Sevilla clung on for the interval.
The Dragons began the second period in similar buccaneering rhythm, though they were nearly pegged back when Coke caught Mangala in possession in the Porto penalty box. Diego Reyes stepped in to make a timely block. Porto were quickly back on top, prompted by the directness of substitute Juan Quintero, and Quaresma had a good chance after nimbly cutting inside on the hour, only to slice his attempt.
Emery introduced Kevin Gameiro and Diogo Figueiras to try and alter the game's course. The former nearly grabbed an equaliser against the run of the play, scuffing the rebound after Fabiano saved Carlos Bacca's strike. Porto finished with ten men after Fernando received a second yellow card – meaning he will be banned for the second leg with Martínez – yet nearly doubled their lead when Quaresma hit the upright in stoppage time.
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