The Estádio do Dragão in Porto opened last night with a friendly between FC Porto and FC Barcelona.
Present at the official ceremony before the match were UEFA President Lennart Johansson, Portuguese deputy minister José Luís Arnaut, secretary of state for youth and sport Hermínio Loureiro, and Porto president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa. Additionally 52,000 spectators packed into the stands of Porto's new stadium, which will stage five matches altogether at EURO 2004™.
Pinto da Costa delight
Club president Pinto da Costa said: "Today I am a happy man and a proud Porto fan. It is very good to open this venue with Porto as champions, UEFA Cup holders and Portuguese Cup holders and also leading the SuperLiga. We have proved that we are one of the biggest [clubs] in Europe."
Mr Johansson added: "It's a wonderful stadium. It totally meets all expectations that everyone had. I am proud to be here for this historic moment. With this amount of work [being put in] I am sure that UEFA EURO 2004™ will be a huge success."
The celebrations began with a performance by Portuguese magician Luís de Matos, who appeared from the air in a helicopter and descended by rope to the pitch. Another performer on show was musician Pedro Brumester who, curiously, played the piano while suspended in the air by a crane.
Fernandes goes close
Of the match itself, both sides were missing key players due to the weekend's internationals, but there was still plenty of entertainment and endeavour on show. Porto started the brighter and had the first shot on goal after seven minutes with Ricardo Fernandes' header forcing a good save from Albert Jorquera.
The game sprang into life ten minutes after the interval when Derlei was fouled in area and got up to convert the spot-kick himself - ensuring his name enters Porto history as the first scorer at the Dragão. Thirteen minutes later, the hosts doubled their advantage, Hugo Almeida beating Jorquera with a header from a Maniche cross.
After the match a video and fireworks show kept the crowd entertained. Porto will return to Das Antas for their next UEFA Champions League match against FC Partizan and for a Portuguese Cup match against Boavista FC, but after that they will move permanently to the Dragão stadium - which on the evidence of last night will prove a wonderful venue.