Adriano treble topples holders

FC Internazionale Milano 3-1 FC Porto (agg: 4-2) Adriano's hat-trick ends the holders' hopes of a repeat success.

By Mark Chaplin at Giuseppe Meazza

A hat-trick from Adriano ended FC Porto's reign as European champions and earned FC Internazionale Milano the eighth and final place in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League.

Decisive strikes
The Brazilian striker scored early in each half to put the Italian side in command of the tie and, although Porto captain Jorge Costa brought his team back into contention, Adriano completed his hat-trick three minutes from time to wrap up a 4-2 aggregate victory.

Deflected opener
Inter, looking to join Juventus FC and AC Milan in the last eight, began the game knowing that a goalless draw would take them through after the first leg in Portugal three weeks ago finished 1-1. Both teams took time to settle, with the early exchanges confined to midfield, but the home side went in front in the game's first serious attack after six minutes. Adriano broke away powerfully from Jorge Costa and into the area on the left, his shot was deflected over Porto goalkeeper Vítor Baía by defender Pedro Emanuel, and Jorge Costa could only help the ball into the roof of the net as he tried to clear.

Adriano impact
The livewire Adriano then saw a shot deflected wide as Inter kept up the pressure, with Porto unable to make any impression on a solid home rearguard in the opening 20 minutes. However, Inter midfield player Cristiano Zanetti was booked for bringing down Diego when the visitors looked to launch a threatening counterattack.

Toldo tested
Chances were at a premium, although Inter goalkeeper Francesco Toldo was finally tested by a low long-range drive from Giourkas Seitaridis as Porto slowly began showing some attacking potential. At the other end, an Adriano header was held by Baía when the home side created a moment of danger of their own.

Frustrating errors
As the half drew to a close, Inter had gone off the boil following their bright opening, a spate of misplaced passes and unforced errors frustrating their followers. Porto introduced Ricardo Quaresma for the disappointing Cláudio Mejolaro at half-time and the substitute was immediately into the action, twice shooting wide of the target as the guests looked for a way back into the tie and pressed Inter back on the defensive.

Accomplished finish
Toldo held a Benni McCarthy free-kick, and the hour approached with Inter struggling to keep their noses in front against a determined away side that had wrested control of midfield. However, the home side awoke to go further ahead on 63 minutes and take command of the tie. Julio Cruz sent Adriano into the area, and the striker made no mistake, finishing neatly with the outside of his left foot to loosen the holders' grip on the trophy.

Porto lifeline
Porto gave themselves a lifeline in the 69th minute when a left-wing corner was fumbled by Toldo, allowing Jorge Costa to poke the ball in. With the Portuguese side forced to commit more men forward, gaps appeared and Javier Zanetti could have made the game safe nine minutes from time, bursting clear and rounding the goalkeeper only for Pedro Emanuel to clear his shot off the line.

Late third
It mattered little six minutes later, however, as Inter again sprang the Porto offside trap, Juan Sebastián Verón's pass setting Adriano clear. The Brazilian forward cut in from the right and, with defenders closing in, drove a low shot across Baía to complete a memorable night for himself and his team.