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Porto's Falcao all smiles after Spartak hat-trick

The competition's top scorer again following a hat-trick in FC Porto's 5-1 first-leg win over FC Spartak Moskva, Falcao said: "I was looking to score one so to get three is obviously fabulous."

Porto's Falcao all smiles after Spartak hat-trick
Porto's Falcao all smiles after Spartak hat-trick ©

Having scored a hat-trick in FC Porto's 5-1 UEFA Europa League quarter-final first-leg triumph against FC Spartak Moskva, Falcao said the Portuguese champions had eased their worst fears about next Thursday's decider in Russia.

Indeed, with the match ball tucked safely under his arm, the 25-year-old forward emerged to face the press insisting that reaching the final in Dublin was his team's new goal. "This was a very important win and we're happy with the performance," the Colombian international said. "We know we will have to be at our best in the return match – especially as they are very strong at home – but we've gained an advantage which will allow us to be a bit calmer in Moscow."

Before Thursday's match, some had questioned Porto's focus given the celebrations that followed their Portuguese title-clinching win at SL Benfica last weekend. And when Spartak striker Welliton broke free before spurning two early chances, the warning signs were there for André Villas-Boas's side.

Yet Falcao's diving header on 37 minutes settled home nerves, and after further strikes from Silvestre Varela and Maicon, the first leg appeared a formality. Kirill Kombarov's 71st-minute goal briefly brought Spartak back into contention, but Falcao extinguished their hopes with two more efforts before the end.

"I was looking to score one so to get three is obviously fabulous," said former CA River Plate attacker Falcao, the competition's leading marksman with ten goals. "We managed to put last Sunday's championship celebrations behind us and showed a lot of maturity in a competition we want to continue to excel in. It's great to be able to share beautiful moments like these."

Despite enduring a difficult night in northern Portugal, Spartak midfielder Ibson still has hope for the 14 April rematch. "In football, you can never say situations are impossible but this defeat obviously makes our life much harder for the second leg," the Brazilian said.

"Who knows what will happen in Moscow? We have to try to mount a comeback or, failing that, at least win the game in front of our fans. Porto are a very good team with skilful players but we already knew that before tonight. We started well enough and even had two chances to score. In the end we paid the price for those misses and that's football."