José Mourinho was delighted with the way FC Porto reached the UEFA Champions League semi-finals.
By Pete Sanderson in Lyon
FC Porto coach José Mourinho watched his side breeze through their latest UEFA Champions League examination with an aggregate victory against French champions Olympique Lyonnais and said: "I am delighted with our performance tonight."
Two wonderfully-executed goals from midfield player Maniche early in each half earned the Portuguese champions a 4-2 aggregate success and, for the first time in a decade, a place in the last four where they will meet RC Deportivo La Coruña. Mourinho's team were excellent value for their win, putting on an impressive exhibition of counterattacking football at the Stade Gerland.
The UEFA Cup holders weathered a first-half storm from Lyon, in which Péguy Luyindula cancelled out Maniche's early strike. But the visitors exposed Lyon's defensive vulnerability with Maniche's 47th-minute effort, ensuring Giovane Elber's late equaliser was merely a consolation.
The victory underlined the quality coursing through the UEFA Cup holders - and the performance of Maniche on the left of their midfield diamond was the crucial factor. "Maniche was brilliant," said Mourinho. "We have a few people who win games and he has proved he is one of those with two superb goals in a great overall performance."
Mourinho has assembled a wonderful side who combine machine-like organisation with raw ability. And, with the likes of Arsenal FC, Real Madrid CF and AC Milan now out of the Champions League, the Portuguese coach knows his players could conceivably go on to capture their second successive major European trophy.
"We stuck to our game plan well and got that early goal which effectively killed off the tie. I was impressed by Lyon. They fought well in that first half but
Maniche's second strike killed the game as a contest."
Mourinho's personal performance over the two legs was masterful. His reputation is seemingly enhanced with every Champions League hurdle he clears, and this latest triumph only adds weight to the argument that he is both mentally and tactically the finest young coach in Europe. "I think this win has proved we are one of the best sides in Europe. We have worked so hard to get to this level and maybe now everyone will look up in fear of Porto."
Lyon, meanwhile, bow out of the competition with their heads held high. Not only did they remain unbeaten at home and reach the knockout stages, they can also take pride in the way they humbled the likes of FC Bayern München and Real Sociedad de Fútbol. Their coach Paul Le Guen, however, conceded that - for all their exhilarating football - his young team will always liable to be exposed by sides of Porto's calibre.
Porto have proved what a wonderful team they are," said Le Guen. "I wish them luck in the next round as they proved they were just too good for us over the two legs. I thought we lost the tie in the first leg - once they scored we had a huge mountain to climb."
Le Guen was both philosophical and rational about his club's exit. "It has been a fascinating experience for us," he admitted. "We have been on a wonderful journey and, although we knew we were good enough to get this far, I think we surprised a few people with some of the football we played. We are a young team and we have a learnt a lot - we can be very proud of ourselves. I am sure we'll be back next year."