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Champions League group stage recap: Porto clear heads after early stutters

Four consecutive wins catapulted the Dragons into the last 16 after the shock of back-to-back defeats to open the group stage.

Watch all Porto's Champions League group stage goals

Beaten by Atlético and humbled at home by Club Brugge, the outlook for Porto in this season's UEFA Champions League looked grim after two group games.

Their response could not have been more emphatic, though, racking up four straight victories to reach the round of 16 as section winners.

Round of 16: Inter vs Porto

Campaign so far

Group B winners: W4 D0 L2 F12 A7
Top scorer: Mehdi Taremi (5)

Highlights: Porto 2-1 Atlético

07/09: Atlético 2-1 Porto (Hermoso 90+1, Griezmann 90+11; Uribe 90+6pen)
13/09: Porto 0-4 Club Brugge (Jutglà 15pen, Sowah 47, Skov Olsen 52, Nusa 89)
04/10: Porto 2-0 Leverkusen (Zaidu 69, Galeno 87)
: Leverkusen 0-3 Porto (Galeno 6, Taremi 53pen 64pen)
26/10: Club Brugge 0-4 Porto (Taremi 33 70, Evanilson 57, Eustáquio 60)
01/11: Porto 2-1 Atlético (Taremi 5, Eustáquio 24; Marcano 90+5 og)

Campaign in ten words: Stumbled out of the blocks but now flying over hurdles.

UEFA.com Porto reporter

A 4-0 home defeat by Club Brugge on Matchday 2 could have been the death knell for the Dragons, but instead it sounded the clarion call. They dusted themselves off, picked up back-to-back wins against Leverkusen and proved how far they'd come so fast by meting out revenge on Club Brugge in Belgium before wrapping up first place with a fine closing win at home to Atlético. Of course, it helps when you have a goalkeeper who saves penalties for fun.

How do Porto play?

Sérgio Conceição has persevered with the 4-4-2 but tweaked a few things to add flexibility, like transforming winger Pepê into an option at right-back. The mercurial Otávio provides the main conduit between defence and attack and Mehdi Taremi has developed a more rounded game, providing for others while losing none of his eye for goal. Goalkeeper Diogo Costa has provided leadership to a back line shorn of stalwart Pepe.

Fantasy star performers

Diogo Costa – 48 points
Galeno – 41 points
Mehdi Taremi – 38 points

Squad changes

In: none
Out: none

Clubs had until 24:00 CET on Thursday 2 February to register a maximum of three new eligible players prior to the knockout stage. Since 2018/19, it no longer matters whether those players have already played in the competition for another club, even for another club still in the competition.

Key stats

  • Diogo Costa saved penalties in three successive matches in Group B, including a twice-taken spot kick against Club Brugge on Matchday 5: different sides, both repelled.
  • On Matchday 2, Porto lost a fourth successive Champions League match for the first time ever – they responded with four straight victories to top their group.
  • Porto's 4-0 triumph at Club Brugge was their second biggest away win in the Champions League (group stage to final) after the 5-0 victory against Werder Bremen in March 1994.