Chelsea were beaten 2-1 by Porto last night at the Estádio do Dragão to leave group G wide open after the first two fixtures.
Despite being denied a clear penalty in the 90th minute when Ivan Marcano clearly handled Diego Costa’s flick, Porto were the deserved winners of a hard fought contest.
Both teams looked sharp in the attacking third of the pitch in the early stages; Cesc Fabregas had a powerful shot well saved by Iker Casillas in the sixth minute.
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The veteran Spanish stopper – who was playing in his 152nd Champions league game (a new record) – smartly denied Pedro down low to his right hand side after some slick attacking play from Chelsea in the 15th minute.
At the other end, Yacine Brahimi looked to have the beating of Branislav Ivanovic whenever he wished down Porto’s left-hand side. On the opposite flank, veteran Uruguayan full-back Maxi Pereira was joining the Porto attack at every opportunity.
The opening goal came in the 39th minute when Brahimi skilfully evaded Ivanovic and forced a good save from Begovic; unfortunately for the Chelsea keeper, Andre Andre was the first player to react and he converted the rebound from 12 yards out.
Porto deserved their lead, however, Chelsea levelled proceedings with the last kick of the half when Willian curled a beautiful free-kick round the wall and into the corner of the net from 25 yards out.
The muted celebration of Jose Mourinho, though, told its own story. He was clearly not happy with his team’s first-half display.
It’s safe to say that Mourinho’s mood worsened early in the second half when his side went 2-1 down. After 52 minutes, Porto’s captain, Maicon, brilliantly converted a near post header from Ruben Neves’ teasing corner. At just 18 years of age, Neves looks a real prospect; the Portuguese youngster looked calm and composed all evening in the middle of the park.
No way through
Diego Costa very nearly brought his side level a couple of moments later with a wonderful, dipping 25-yard effort which hit the bar.
Mourinho’s next move was to bring on last season’s star man, Eden Hazard. The move very nearly paid off in the 64th minute when Hazard, who had only been on the pitch for two minutes, latched onto a pass from Pedro, took the ball past Maicon but fired his shot into the side netting. Maicon’s attempted challenge was clumsy and had Hazard gone decided to go down he would’ve been given a penalty.
Porto could’ve extended their lead through the excellent Brahimi and the equally impressive Giannelli Imbula, but Asmir Begovic pulled off a string of fine saved to keep his side in the game.
The game’s two right backs, Ivanovic and Pereira, both hit the post from headed attempts from corner kicks late on and despite Chelsea’s late pressure, Porto hung on for a well-deserved victory.