FC Porto stunned Bayern Munich with a 3-1 victory in the 1st leg of quarterfinals at the Estadio da Dragao on Wednesday. Ricardo Quaresma scored twice under the first ten minutes with Thiago pulling one back for the visitors, before Jackson Martinez adding one more in the second half giving Porto a great chance to progress to the semifinals. Pep Guardiola’s men paid price for their sluggish start when Xabi Alonso lost the ball in a dangerous area to Jackson Martinez who was brought down by Manuel Neuer in the box prompting the referee to point to the spot. Ricardo Quaresma then put the spot kick into the net giving Porto a 1-0 lead in the 3rd minute. Quaresma once again pressurised Dante forcing an error from the Brazilian then racing forward to slot past Neuer to double the lead under 10 minutes. Bayern then had a brief spell of possession but found it difficult to move the ball around due to intense pressure from Porto’s midfield. The visitors poured forward in numbers for the next few minutes which finally resulted in a goal. Jerome Boateng found acres of space on the right flank and sent in a lofted pass into the box which flew over Porto’s defence for Thiago to slot home. The first half ended with Guardiola’s men seeing more of the ball but Porto certainly looked a threat on the break. Second half started with the home side in firm control pushing Bayern backwards. Sebastian Rode replaced Mario Gotze which gave the visitors some much needed flair in the attack. Rode then sent in a lofted pass in the path of Lewandowski who drew a good save from goalkeeper Fabiano. Porto scored their third goal shortly, when fullback Alex Sandro found Jackson Martinez with a cross and the skipper rounded off Neuer to score his 7th Champions League goal of the season. Rode then tried his luck from 20 yards but Fabiano was alert to keep the effort out. Bayern couldn’t muster up any meaningful chances from there on, facing an uphill task for the return leg next week.
Bayern’s Collective Failure Puts Them On The Brink
Back in 1987, during the European Cup final in Vienna, Portoa s Rabah Madjer got past the Bayern defence which was in a slumber after dominating the entire first half to score a sensational backheel. On Wednesday similar scenes evoked the memories of the final in Vienna when Bayerna s defence was caught napping on several occasions allowing Porto forwards and full-backs to bomb forward. The first mistake of the game came from Xabi Alonso, a man who is considered as one of the coolest heads in the business losing the ball to Jackson Martinez. Manuel Neuer was left helpless and brought down the Columbian to the ground conceding a penalty. After his reliable goalie and midfielder gifted the opposition an early lead, it was Brazilian centre back Dante who lost the ball in a dangerous position to Ricardo Quaresma to give away another cheap goal. Bayerna s honorary president Franz Beckenbauer blasted the team performance and was critical about Dantea s performance in particular saying a If he was from Iceland or the North Pole, Ia d say a okay, he is still wearing his ski bootsa . But no, he simply has to stop the ball.a Jerome Boateng may have assisted Thiagoa s crucial away but it was his mistake that led to the third and final goal summing up a miserable night for the German Champions. The experienced duo of Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso couldna t stamp their usual authority in the centre of the park losing the battle to Casemiro who was one of the best performers on the pitch. Juan Bernat lost out key battles losing the ball in key areas when he attacked and Quaresmaa s pressing coupled with Daniloa s overlapping runs were too much for the Spaniard to handle. Bayern collective failure now has them staring down the barrel facing an elimination one round earlier than last yeara s semifinal exit. Thiago was the only bright spot in the midfield with this trickery and exceptional passing, but the forward line were subdued by Portoa s centre backs . Things got better only when Gotze and Alonso made way for Sebastian Rode and Holger Badstuber in the second half. Rode improved the link up play with Lewandowski which Gotze was clearly missing in the first half. But it all counted for nothing as the game was already out of their hands once Martinez scored the third goal in what a truly forgetful night for the German giants.
Porto Played With Their Hearts and Were Duly Rewarded
Bayern were at fault for all the goals scored against them, but Julen Lopeteguia s men approached the game in the best way. Their defence stood firm when Bayern had the ball, their midfield stifled the visitors squeezing out any spaces, their attackers never wasted a single opportunity that Bayerna s defence had offered them. Maicon got the better of Lewandowski every time the Pole was supplied the ball. Bruno Martins Indi supported his partner perfectly snuffing out aerial balls and nullified Thomas Mullera s influence upfront. Full backs Sandro and Danilo tested the Bayern backline every time they moved forward with their pace. Sandro in particular was superb throughout and got a deserved assist when his cross setup Jackson Martinez for the third goal. Lopetegui will miss his two young defenders for the second leg as both of them earned their second bookings in the match. Midfielder Casemiro bossed the midfield throughout the night and combined well with his fellow midfielders Victor Herrera and Oliver Torres in outclassing experienced heads like Alonso and Lahm. Captain Jackson Martinez returned to the team after suffering a troublesome groin injury and showed immediate impact with his pressing. He cleverly dispossessed Alonso and drew the foul from Neuer inside the box to an earn a penalty. He got his deserved goal when he capitalized on Boatenga s error, rounding off Neuer to move up the Champions League goal scoring charts. But the night belonged to Ricardo Quaresma who arguably put in a man of the match performance. He rightly sent Neuer the wrong way for the penalty and took advantage of woeful defending from Dante to slot the second goal with a cool finish. Casemiro quoted after the match a Our hearts were on the tip of our boots, that was the secret.a which was apt to the way they approached the game.
Guardiola Leaves a Bloody Trail For his Opponents
Last season, Bayern were a well oiled machine until they wrapped up the Bundesliga in a record time with seven games left to play. But suddenly their gears started to creak and their game reached stagnation during the quarterfinals against Manchester United. Everybody knows what followed next. This time they struggled after the winter break with the defeat to Wolfsburg and draw against Schalke. Then there was the recent 2-0 defeat to another domestic rival Borussia Monchengladbach. The game against Wolfsburg clearly pointed out the flaws in Pepa s gameplay which Gladbach and Porto were quick to take a note to inflict defeats on Pep. They start the games on a high tempo which pressurized the defence leading to early goals after which the Bavarians never recovered. Second thing all the teams did was achieving midfield dominance, which is core strength of Pepa s game. And final one was resolute defending. Bayern usually push forward in numbers when they concede early, notably with ten of their men in the opposition half. During these times, the oppositions closed down all the spaces by deploying all their men in defence making it difficult for Bayern to Manoeuvre. That puts Bayern in danger if Pep continues to apply the same tactics for the upcoming matches most importantly for the second leg. Altering the style of play is definitely not advised as it would prove both suicidal and ridiculous at this stage of the season. But the Catalan has to make some tacticals adjustments to reverse the first leg result and to avoid another humiliating exit in Champions League.