by CHRIS WRIGHT [email protected]
FC Porto, one of the giants of European football and current UEFA Europa League Champions, were looking to continue their impressive league record when they visited Olhanense on Saturday.
The league champions last lost in February 2010 and since then had recorded 42 wins in 48 league games.
In the absence of the injured João Gonçalves, centre-back Mexer moved across to right-back and Mauricio returned to the heart of the Olhanense defence.
The game started at a high tempo and after just two minutes the visitors were awarded a penalty when Mauricio barged into Kleber. Up stepped Hulk – gone was his blond hair which earned him €50,000 in an advertising campaign – to arrow his shot just inside the post.
The Porto fans, massed behind the goal, prepared to celebrate the lead. But Olhanense keeper Fabiano Freitas had other ideas as he flung himself to the left to make a fantastic save.
He did even better to deflect the Brazilian’s follow-up effort past the post for a corner.
The missed opportunity knocked Porto’s fragile confidence, and the visitors did not create another chance in the first half until moments before the interval when Rolando headed wide when it seemed easier to score.
Olhanense were defensively disciplined and the midfield of Nuno Piloto, Fernando Alexandre and Cauê worked tirelessly to close down their illustrious opponents.
The home side had few opportunities, although Mexer should have done better when he blazed his shot over the bar from a corner.
That apart, the makeshift right-back was a revelation in his new position and with Mauricio dominant in the air the Olhanense defence was rarely troubled by an attack that had scored eleven goals in their previous three league games.
What had been a lukewarm match came to life in the second half, with Porto stringing together a series of dangerous raids and Olhanense looking more dangerous on the break. Hulk and Mangala both came desperately close to giving Porto the lead, before the young French centre-back did put the ball in the net, only for the effort to be ruled out for a foul on goalkeeper Fabiano Freitas by Rolando.
For the home side Salvador Agra and Mateus chased everything and after a dominant spell Porto began to run out of ideas again.
Twice Olhanense’s top scorer Wilson Eduardo caused moments of anxiety for the Porto defence. On the hour mark a well worked counter-attack set up a chance for the Portugal U21 international, but the striker could not get enough weight on his impudent attempt to lob Helton from close range.
In the 78th minute Eduardo took a beautiful first touch to take Mangala out of the equation and rifle in a low shot that a diving Helton scrambled to turn away for a corner.
Rui Duarte, Ivanildo and Figueroa replaced Wilson Eduardo, Salvador Agra and Mateus as the home side were more than happy to settle for a point.
To appreciate the full magnitude of this result one only has to look at the Porto squad that contained eleven full internationals and had previously only failed to score in two of their previous 58 competitive games, namely at Feirense and Barcelona.
This result moved Olhanense into sixth place in Liga ZON Sagres.