It’s advantage Manchester City as Roberto Mancini’s team came from behind to grab a impressive win against Porto at the almost impregnable Estadio do Dragao.
Porto had entered the half-time break a goal to the good having played the better football but not created many chances. Indeed, while Porto had been pressing well, they only troubled Joe Hart twice – the goal and a free kick which Gael Clichy was able to head over.
Their goal, when it came, was the result of rare poor defensive work from City. First they collectively switched off allowing Porto to take a quick free kick. Hulk broke down the left and, despite the attentions of Vincent Kompany, was able to cross for Silvestre Varela to strike home courtesy of some poor marking from Clichy.
However at the other end Helton had to work hard to keep Mario Balotelli and Samir Nasri at bay and, despite being partially at fault for the goal, when he was going forward Clichy was besting Varela down the left flank and swinging in some testing crosses. Despite going into the break a goal down, there was clearly hope for City, something Mancini acknowledged after the match.
“I think that we played very well. In the first half we had three or four chances to score and we were really unlucky,” said the City manager.
“In the second half we played very well. We played better. We had seven or eight chances to score and we didn’t give any chances to Porto.”
City started the second half with a lot more purpose, pressing their hosts much higher up the pitch and they didn’t have to wait long to be back on level terms. Balotelli and Alvaro Pereira leapt together for a ball and it looped in off the Porto player over a stranded Helton who was ready to collect. Balotelli didn’t celebrate, perhaps because he didn’t score it, perhaps because he had been subject to racist abuse from the terraces.
The winner came six minutes from time with Yaya Toure, back after African Cup of Nations duty, broke down the left before crossing for Sergio Aguero who couldn’t fail to miss from five yards out.
With no FA Cup tie at the weekend, City can put their feet up and ready themselves for the second leg of this tie at Eastlands next Thursday. Porto on the other hand have an away trip, albeit to Portugal’s bottom-placed Vitoria Setubal and they will be deeply disappointed that they didn’t make home advantage count against City.
Porto: (4-3-1-2 ) Porto: Helton, Danilo (Mangala 23 (Defour 86)), Rolando, Maicon, Pereira, Gonzalez, Fernando, Joao Moutinho, Varela (Kleber 76), Hulk, James Rodriguez.
Subs: Bracali, Cristian Rodriguez, Djalma, Mangala, Alex Sandro, Defour.
Man City: (4-4-2) Hart; Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy; Barry, De Jong, Nasri (Zabaleta 86), Silva (Kolarov 82); Toure Yaya, Balotelli (Aguero 76).
Did you know… Porto have not lost a home league game since October 2008.
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