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Porto on brink of last 16 after easing past Maccabi

Maccabi Tel-Aviv 1-3 Porto
The Portuguese side have one foot in the knockout rounds after a comfortable win, but Eran Zahavi gave the hosts something to smile about.

Highlights: M. Tel-Aviv 1-3 Porto
  • Porto need point from last two games to guarantee round of 16 place
  • Maccabi still without point in Group G but Eran Zahavi scores their first goal
  • Maccabi suffer seventh defeat in 11 outings
  • Porto extend unbeaten start to 2015/16 to 13 matches
  • Next games: Maccabi v Chelsea, Porto v Dynamo Kyiv (24 November)

Porto are within touching distance of the UEFA Champions League knockout stage after easing to victory in Israel.

Despite a spirited performance from Maccabi Tel-Aviv, goals from Cristian Tello, André André and Miguel Layún put the visitors 3-0 up before the passionate home support were given something to smile about. With 15 minutes left the excellent Eran Zahavi picked himself up to convert from the spot – it was eliminated Maccabi's first goal of Group G.

Slaviša Jokanović had warned on the eve of the game about the twin evils of failure to take opportunities and costly defensive mistakes. Yet following rousing early intent he witnessed both in the opening 20 minutes.

First the misses, more half-chances than anything but on such moments UEFA Champions League nights hinge. Tal Ben Haim II had already fired into the side-netting when he threatened again, cutting in and driving towards the far corner. Zahavi lurked and lunged – but could not reach it. Any kind of touch and it was 1-0.

André André after making it 2-0
André André after making it 2-0©AFP/Getty Images

Porto possession was greeted with a cacophony of boos, a welcome every bit as hostile as the inclement weather that had forced them to turn back during Friday's flight to Madeira. The locals were silenced, though, when Tello lifted the ball around goalkeeper Predrag Rajković after Maccabi's failure to clear had dragged right-back Eytan Tibi out of position.

Suddenly Porto were on top; spirited Maccabi never quite managed to regain the initiative thereafter. Julen Lopetegui's men ought to have been 2-0 up by half-time as Vincent Aboubakar hit the frame of the goal with only Rajković to beat. It was a brief reprieve. Within four minutes of the restart, André André headed in Maxi Pereira's cross.

Miguel Layún after making it 3-0
Miguel Layún after making it 3-0©AFP/Getty Images

Home skipper Zahavi then took centre stage, his determination to haul his side onto the scoresheet evident as he twice went close. It was Layún who struck next, but three minutes later Zahavi had his goal – consolation, of sorts, for a Maccabi team whose sights will now be on the UEFA Europa League.

The future of Porto, for whom Aboubakar rattled the bar late on, looks to be very much in the UEFA Champions League.

Julen Lopetegui, Porto coach
We haven't clinched a last-16 spot yet. Even if we only need one point it won't be easy because we will be up against great teams. Every match is tough. It was a difficult game against a very hard team who were clearly hungry for their first points. I'm delighted with my boys: they made it look easy.

Slaviša Jokanović, Maccabi coach
We had a lot of chances that we didn't convert. It was our best game yet. You could see the difference between the teams, but I'm very proud as we pushed ourselves. I believed we could pick up 18 points from the group stage – it's my professional approach to want to win every match. We're out of the competition but we still have some important matches coming up.

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