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european competitions - 2006/07

footballportugal

13/04/07

Benfica are out of the UEFA Cup. They needed just one goal against Espanyol in front of 50,000 at the Luz, after they had lost the first leg 2-3, but despite much huffing and puffing, they could not manage it. They did hit the post twice in a two-minute spell in the second half, through Miccoli and Rui Costa, and Gorka saved well at point-blank range from Nuno Gomes, but neither posts not near misses count – goals do.

The teams lined up:

Benfica: Quim, Nélson (Derlei 80), David Luiz, Anderson, Léo, Petit, Karagounis (Katsouranis 80), Rui Costa, Simão, Miccoli, Nuno Gomes (Mantorras 69).

Espanyol: Gorka, Zabaleta, Jarque, Torrejó, Chica, Moisés, Ito (Eduardo Costa 53), Luis Garcia, De la Peña (Jonatas 77), Riera, Pandiani (Coro 70).

Espanyol go on to play Werder Bremen, while Osasuna meet the holderes Sevilla.

Despite Benfica being knocked out, Portugal will remain 6th in the UEFA rankings – which will mean that there will still be six Portuguese clubs in Europe until at least the 2008/09 season.

06/04/07

Poor defending meant that Benfica were 0-2 down by half-time and 0-3 down before the hour mark at Español in the first leg of their UEFA Cup quarter-final Thursday. Tamudo had sliced through the defence on 15 minutes and whacked the ball past Quim, then Quim misjudged a cross on 33 minutes and Riera's shot was headed into his own goal by Nélson. On 58 minutes, Pandiani beat everyone to the ball to head in from close range, and it looked all over for Benfica. But they were better in the second half with Rui Costa and Miccoli on the field for the ineffectual Coimbra and Derlei, and in a two-minute spell, the Eagles were back in the tie: Nuno Gomes tapped in a pass from Miccoli, who had been put through on the right by Davíd Luíz, on 63 minutes, and Simão cut in between two defenders on the left before shooting past the excellent Gorka, with the help of a deflection.

The two away goals make it a doable job to get past Español in the second leg at the Luz next week, but Benfica will have to raise their game compared to Thursday's poor display.

The teams lined up:

Español: Gorka, Zabaleta (Delacruz 68), Torrejón, Jarque, Chica, De la Peña, Moisés, Rufete (Ito 78), Luis Garcia, Riera, Tamudo (Pandiani 52).

Benfica: Quim, Nélson, Anderson, David Luiz, Léo, Petit, Karagounis, João Coimbra (Rui Costa 36), Derlei (Miccoli 56), Nuno Gomes, Simão.

16/03/07

Benfica are through to the quarter finals of the UEFA Cup, but they made a meal of it to beat PSG at the Luz Thursday. Simão, fed by Nuno Gomes, put them in front on 12 minutes, then Petit with the most delicate of chips from outside the box on 26 made it look like it was going to be an easy ride. But five minutes later, PSG were back in the game, Pauleta heading a Rothen cross firmly in. Benfica were through on aggregate at that point (it had been 3-2 to PSG in the first leg), but a goal from PSG would have reversed the situation. As it was, Benfica extended their lead on the night through a Simão penalty on 88 minutes after Léo had been brought down.

Benfica: Moretto, Nélson, David Luiz, Anderson, Léo, Petit, Katsouranis (João Coimbra 46), Karagounis, Simão, Miccoli (Derlei 76), Nuno Gomes (Paulo Jorge 96).

PSG: Landreau, Mabiala (Mendy 74), Rozehnal, Traoré, Drame, Mulumbu, Diané, Rothen, Gallardo (Ngog 70), Luyindula (Kalou 70), Pauleta.

Benfica have been drawn against Español in the quarter finals. The first leg will be in Cataluña on 5 April, the second at the Luz a week later.

The complete draw:

AZ Alkmaar-Werder Bremen
Bayer Leverkusen-Osasuna
Seville-Tottenham
Español-Benfica

15/03/07

Sporting Braga are out of the UEFA Cup, but not before giving Tottenham Hotspur a run for their money Wednesday in the second leg of their UEFA cup tie at White Hart Lane.

Bringing a 2-3 defeat from the first leg, Braga were timid and shaky in the first half … but surprisingly went in front on 25 minutes when a free-kick from Andrade on the left sailed over the Spurs defence only to be headed in by Hoddlestone, an own goal. The lead lasted just three minutes, Robbie Keane putting Berbatov through for the Bulgarian international to crack the ball cleanly past Paulo Santos. It was in Braga's interest to keep the result at that until the break, but the couldn't: two minutes after central defender Rodriguez had been carried off injured, Berbatov (again) popped up in front of goal to volley home from a free-kick.

But coach Jorge Costa must have said something to the Braga side during the break, because in the second half they were a different team: more aggressive more confident. Andrade crashed home a free-kick on 66 minutes to put the game on a razor's edge: one more goal from Braga would have meant extra time. It was not to be, however, Malbaranque getting Spurs' third on the night, leaving the aggregate score at 6-4. After that, it was just a question of playing out time.

The teams lined up:

Tottenham: Cerny, Staltery, Chimbonda, Dawson, Young-Pio Lee, Lennon (Ghaly 82), Zokora, Huddlestone, Malbranque, Keane (Defoe 66), Berbatov.

Sporting Braga: Paulo Santos, Luís Filipe, Rodriguez (Nem 40), Paulo Jorge, Carlos Fernandes, Andrés Madrid, Andrade, Frechaut, João Pinto (Césinha 74), Wender, Zé Carlos (Maciel 74).

09/03/07

Benfica copied FC Porto against Chelsea (in the CL) with an excellent display for the first 30 minutes against PSG in Paris on Thursday in the first leg of their UEFA Cup tie. They took an early lead on nine minutes, Nélson charging to the line on the right and putting over a perfect cross for the diminutive Simão to rise and head home at the back post. But Benfica's confidence was shaken on the half hour when defensive stalwart Luisão left the field injured to make way for David Luíz, his début. The team's rhythm was disrupted, and it showed almost immediately, with first Pauleta on 36, scoring with what was actually a cross, and Frau on 41 giving the Parisians a 2-1 lead. Benfica re-grouped after the break, but the score remained the same.

The teams lined up:

PSG: Landreau, Mendy, Sakho, Rozehnal, Armand (Drame 79), Cissé, Chantome, Rothen (Gallardo 61), Kalou, Frau, Pauleta (Luyndula 73)

Benfica: Quim, Nélson, Luisão (David Luiz 32), Anderson, Léo, Petit, João Coimbra (Beto 72), Karagounis, Simão, Miccoli, Derlei (Nuno Gomes 68)

If Benfica are still in with a shout given the away goal they scored, the same cannot perhaps be said of Sporting Braga, who lost the first leg of their tie with Tottenham 2-3 in Braga.

Tottenham were superior for most of the match but Braga held them until the 56th minute, Robbie Keane putting Spurs in front. Malbranque made it two on 72, and it all looked over for Braga. But four minutes later they got a (dubious) penalty, captain Paulo Jorge getting a second bite after his spot kick was parried by Robinson, and then they drew level ten minutes from time with an excellent near post header from Zé Carlos. It was the lesser of two evils, to go to London with the score at 2-2 … but it was not to be. Robbie Keane got his second, the team's third, and it now looks like a mission impossible for Braga, who will need to win by two clear goals in London to go through.

The teams lined up.

Sporting Braga: Paulo Santos, Luís Filipe, Paulo Jorge, Rodriguez, Carlos Fernandes, Andrade, João Pinto (Maciel 79), Castanheira, Bruno Gama (Cesinha 69), Zé Carlos, Wender (Diego 69).

Tottenham: Robinson, Chimbonda, Dawson, Gardner, Lee, Zokora, Tainio (Huddlestone 74), Malbranque, Lennon, Robbie Keane, Berbatov.

07/03/07

FC Porto are out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage. After drawing 1-1 in Porto, FCP got off to the best of starts at Stamford Bridge (with 3,300 Porto fans, mainly making more noise than the Chelsea fans), playing a pressing game that seemed to confound Chelsea, and in the first half hour the Portuguese Champions were tactically superior. During this spell, Porto went into the lead on aggregate, on 15 minutes: Lisandro Lopez and Lucho González combined in midfield to send Ricardo Quaresma clear, and the winger strode on to hit the ball under the body of the advancing Cech. FC Porto sat back a little after that points, and Chelsea might have equalised on a couple of occasions before half time. Into the second half, Porto were dealt a blow on 47 minutes, a speculative shot from 25 metres by Robben fluffed by Porto 'keeper Helton, the ball spinning in off his body. There was a second lethal defensive mistake on 78 minutes, Drogba and Shevchenko allowed all the time in the world to have a quick game of header tennis before Ballack, criminally unmarked in front of goal, swivelled to knock past the hapless Helton. After that, Porto had neither the stamina, nor the confidence, nor the guile to pull the game back, and Chelsea go through.

The teams lined up:

Chelsea: Cech, Diarra (Paulo Ferreira 64), Essien, Ricardo Carvalho, Ashley Cole, Robben, Makelele (Obi Mikel 46), Ballack, Lampard, Shevchenko (Kalou 83), Drogba.

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Bruno Alves, Pepe, Ricardo Costa, Marek Cech (Adriano 55), Lucho, Paulo Assunção, Raul Meireles (Ibson 55), Lisandro (Bruno Moraes 80), Ricardo Quaresma.

Coach
Jesualdo Ferreira was, not surprisingly, frustrated with the result: "This team could and should have gone through, not only because of what they did today but also what they did at the Dragão. Over the two legs, Porto were unlucky, but they had every chance to go through. … Sometimes in football, things happen when we least expect them to. We went in at half time convinced that the team had grasped the strategy to use, but Chelsea equalised with a lucky shot. Porto changed their system and we balanced the game, but it was Chelsea that got a second goal, thanks to their superior aerial power. Afterwards, we weren't able to do any more. But for all we did, I think that everyone understood that our players have grown in stature, which makes you think that we could have been in this competition for longer. We'll be back next year for sure. A team that could play two games like this against Chelsea is, in my opinion, one of the best in the world. They have to believe that they have enough quality to continue to lead the Liga and achieve what everyone at the club wants – the national title."

05/03/07

FC Porto are in London ahead of their Champions League last 16 second leg tie against Chelsea on Tuesday. The squad, without in-form full back Bosingwa, injured, is:

Goalkeepers: Helton, Vítor Baia;
Defenders: Bruno Alves, Cech, Pepe, Ricardo Costa, Fucile, Lucas Marequ, João Paulo;
Midfielers: Paulo Assunção, Raul Meireles, Lucho González, Ibson, Jorginho;
Forwards: Quaresma, Adriano, Alan, Bruno Moraes, Hélder Postiga, Lisandro López.

Italian Roberto Rosetti will referee.

24/02/07

Marítimo and União de Leiria are to register for next season's Intertoto Cup, just in case they can't qualify directly for the UEFA Cup. Portugal has three teams in the Champions League (one of which in the final qualifying round), and three in the UEFA Cup.

23/02/07

Benfica put in a mature display Thursday to beat Dynamo Bucharest 2-1 in the second leg of their last-32 tie, meaning an aggregate win of 3-1. Benfica had a scare on 23 minutes, Munteanu unmarked in front of goal and slotting the ball calmly in. Lobont in the Dynamo goal was once again a frustration to Benfica's attempts to get ahead, but he could do nothing on 50 minutes when a Simão corner from the left was headed powerfully in by Brazilian central defender Anderson. The goal meant that Dynamo needed to get two, and the prospect appeared to deflate them; they caused Benfica little real trouble from then on, and on 64 minutes, Benfica raised the bar still further from another dead ball situation. A Simão corner again, this time from the right, was met by Katsouranis at the near post, and the ball flew into the net. Benfica meet Paris St Germain in the last 16.

The teams lined up:

Dynamo: Lobont, Blay, Moti, Radu, Pulhac, Margaritescu, Serban (Balace, 45), Munteanu (Mendy 58), Cristea (Zé Kalanga 76), Danciulescu, Niculescu

Benfica: Quim, Nélson, Luisão, Anderson, Léo, Petit, Katsouranis (Beto 89), Simão, Karagounis, Miccoli (Nuno Gomes 76), Derlei (Paulo Jorge 86)

Taking a 1-0 win to Italy from the first leg,
Sporting Braga were under the cosh for much of the game against Parma, but as full time approached their resolute defending meant that they still had the one goal advantage (despite Fréchaut being sent off for a second yellow on 75 minutes) … and then a minute from time, a bonus: Luís Filipe swung over a cross from the right and 18-year-old Brazilian forward Diego, making his début in Europe, beat his marker to knock the ball into the roof of the net. It was coach Jorge Costa's first game in charge after Rogério Gonçalves was sacked. His team meet Tottenham Hotspur in the net round.

The teams lined up:

Parma: De Lucia, Ferronetti, Fernando Couto, Contini, Bocchetti, Pisanu, Cigarini, Grella (Dessena 65), Paponi (Gasbarroni 30), Muslimovic, Kutuzov (Rossi 70).

Sporting Braga: Paulo Santos, Luís Filipe, Paulo Jorge, Rodriguez, Carlos Fernandes, Ricardo Chaves, Frechaut, Pedro Costa, Zé Carlos (Diego 71), João Pinto (Andrade 90), Wender (Castanheira 77).

Thursday's results meant more UEFA points for Portuguese football. It is currently fifth in the rankings, and if it stays there, it will have three teams in the Champions League in the 2008/09 season (one in the final qualifying round) and three in the UEFA Cup.

22/02/07

FC Porto's chances of going through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League were reduced Wednesday when they could only draw 1-1 at home to Chelsea in front of 50,000 at the Estádio do Dragão in the first leg of their last-16 tie. Raul Meireles put Porto in front on 12 minutes with a volley that deflected slightly off Frank Lampard, and Chelsea had to adjust to captain John Terry being stretchered off shortly afterwards. Four minutes later, though, Robben, on as sub, put Shevchenko through and the Ukrainian clipped his shot coolly home. Quaresma, a real threat in the first half but fading later, hit the bar before half-time, and Drogba hit the post in the second half, but the score remained the same.

The teams lined up:

FC Porto: Helton, Bosingwa, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Fucile (Bruno Moraes 64), Lucho Gonzalez, Paulo Assunção, Raul Meireles (Marek Cech 55), Lisandro Lopez, Hélder Postiga (Adriano 76), Ricardo Quaresma.

Chelsea: Cech, Diarra, Ricardo Carvalho, Terry (Robben 12; Obi Mikel 46), Bridge, Ballack, Essien, Makelélé, Lampard, Drogba, Shevchenko (Kalou 87).

16/02/07

Sporting Braga repeated on Thursday Benfica's result from Wednesday, beating Italian club Parma 1-0 in the first leg of their last-32 game, and they left it just as late, Zé Carlos beating his marker with a deft chest-down at the edge of the area before hitting the ball home.

Sporting Braga: Paulo Santos, Luís Filipe, Paulo Jorge, Nem (Rodriguez 46), Carlos Fernandes, Frechaut (Bruno Gama 34), Ricardo Chaves, Vandinho, João Pinto (Wender 77), Zé Carlos, Césinha.

Parma: Bucci, Colly, Paci, Contini, Perna, Bocchetti, Pisanu (Paponi 63), Cigarrini (Bolano 79), Dessena, Gasbarroni, Kutuzov (Muslimovic 60).

15/02/07

In the UEFA Cup, Benfica left it until the dying minutes to make a result out of clear domination against Dynamo Bucharest at the Luz. They had had several chances to score, but the Dynamo 'keeper Lobont was on top form, pulling off a miraculous save in the first half from Nuno Gomes at close range and others from every angle throughout. But although he blocked a shot from Simão on 88 minutes, Miccoli was on hand to follow up and drill the ball home, giving Benfica the upper hand going into the second leg in Bucharest next Thursday.

Benfica: Quim, Nélson, Luisão, Anderson, Léo, Karagounis, Katsouranis, Petit (Miccoli 46), Rui Costa (João Coimbra 89), Nuno Gomes (Derlei 73), Simão.

Dynamo Bucharest: Lobont, Blay, Moti, Radu, Pulhac (Zé Kalanga 64; Serban 81), Cristea, Margaritescu, Balace, Munteanu (Ropotan 78), Niculescu, Danciulescu.

10/01/07

FC Porto's Champions League clash with Chelsea on 21 February is a sell-out, the Portuguese club announced Monday.

16/12/06

FC Porto have drawn Chelsea in the last-16 of the Champions League. José Mourinho, already legendary in Porto, returns to the Dragão on 21 February, with the second leg to be played at Stamford Bridge on 6 March. Also returning to the Dragão for the night will be Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho and Hilário.

Both of Portugal's remaining representatives in the last 32 of the UEFA Cup play at home first: Sporting Braga meet Parma, while Benfica play Dynamo Bucharest, the ties to be played on 14/15 and 22 February. Braga will play Feyenoord or Tottenham if they get through, Benfica AEK Athens or Paris St Germain.

Sporting Braga had to beat Grasshoppers Thursday to get through to the last 32, and despite a frustrating first half, they did just that (in front of just 11,000 at the 30,000 capacity Municipal Stadium in Braga). João Pinto cracked home a pulled back free-kick from Wender on the hour, and Castanheira made it safe in added time, finishing off a Luís Filipe cross from the right. It is the first time in the club's history that Braga have got so far in Europe.

The teams lined up:

Sporting Braga: Paulo Santos, Luís Filipe, Paulo Jorge, Nem, Carlos Fernandes, Vandinho, Ricardo Chaves, João Pinto, Maciel (Castanheira 83), Zé Carlos (Marcel 88), Wender (Cesinha 76).

Grasshoppers: Coltorti, Sutter, Denicolà, Weligton, Jaggy, Voser, Salatic (Renggli 69), Roberto Pinto, Léon (Blumer 69), Antonio (Feltscher 85), Ristic.

07/12/06

FC Porto are through to the last 16 of the Champions League after drawing 0-0 with Arsenal at the Dragão in Group G. After a first half of cagey football from both sides, Porto came close to taking the lead early in the second, when Quaresma hit the post on two occasions, but the scoreline ended up suiting both sides. CSKA qualify for the UEFA Cup, despite going down 2-3 at Hamburg.

The teams lined up:

FC Porto: Helton, Bosingwa, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Fucile, Paulo Assunção, Raul Meireles (Ibson 85), Lucho Gonzalez, Lisandro Lopez, Hélder Postiga (Bruno Moraes 81), Ricardo Quaresma.

Arsenal : Lehmann, Eboué, Touré, Djourou, Clichy, Hleb, Gilberto Silva, Flamini, Fabregas, Ljungberg, Adebayour (Van Persie 76).

Benfica's dream of beating Manchester United and going through from Group F burned bright for precisely 18 minutes at Old Trafford. Manchester United had started meekly, letting Benfica get composed, and on 26 minutes, Nuno Gomes found Simão on the right, and the captain's neat lay off was crashed into the top left hand corner of the net from 25 metres by full-back Nélson. It was a spectacular goal that might have rattled a lesser team, but it woke United up, and practically all of the rest of the game was one-way traffic. Unfortunately for Benfica, the goal also marked the end of their composure, and they began losing a lot of ball in their own half. A minute from half-time, Nélson gave the ball away needlessly on the right, which led to a foul, which led to a free-kick, which led to Vidic rising unchallenged to head in.

Benfica needed to win to go through, but they were impotent once United had found their rhythm. And on the hour, the molehill became a mountain as Cristiano Ronaldo was given all the time in the world on the right to cross for Giggs, once again unmarked, to head calmly home. Fifteen minutes from time, Saha, yet again with a header in the heart of the Benfica defence, put the game beyond all doubt. United and Celtic qualify for the last 16, while Benfica go to the UEFA Cup. At least they have the consolation of going one better than their Lisbon rivals Sporting, knocked out of Europe on Tuesday.

The teams lined up:

Manchester United: Van der Sar, Gary Neville, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra (Heinze 67), Cristiano Ronaldo, Carrick, Scholes (Solskjaer 78), Giggs (Fletcher 73), Rooney, Saha.

Benfica: Quim, Nélson, Luisão, Ricardo Rocha, Léo, Katsouranis, Petit, Nuno Assis (Karagounis 72), Nuno Gomes, Miccoli (Paulo Jorge 63), Simão.

06/12/06

Sporting bowed out of Europe for this season Tuesday, going down 1-3 at home to Spartak Moscow. Sporting were already out of contention for progression to the next phase of the Champions League, but needed just a draw to qualify for the UEFA Cup. However, a disastrous start saw them two down within 16 minutes. Both goals originated down the right side, where the excellent Bystrov had his way with the inexperienced left back Ronny. On seven minutes, the ball was worked to Titov, his shot crashed against the bar and from the rebound Pavlyuchenko hit the empty net with a reflex overhead kick. Kalynychenko got the second, heading in at the back post from a cross by Bystrov. Sporting's fickle fans, 20,000 of them on the night, disgracefully filled the stadium with whistles when what their side needed was encouragement, but these turned to cheers on the half hour, Bueno heading in from close range from a cross by Ronny, with Spartak's central defenders all at sea.

Sporting piled on the pressure until the break, their best spell, but they lacked incisiveness and Spartak were always dangerous on the break. In the second half, anxiety was ever present in Sporting's play, and as the minutes ticked away, more anxious and less coherent it became. The final nail in Sporting's coffin came a minute from time, Boyarintsev with all the time in the world to plant the ball past Ricardo and two defenders after a low cross from that man again, Bystrov.

The teams lined up:

Sporting: Ricardo, Miguel Garcia (Miguel Veloso 28), Polga, Tonel, Ronny, Paredes (Nani 50), João Moutinho, Tello, Yannick Djaló, Bueno (Alecsandro 68), Liedson.

Spartak: Zuev, Jiranek, Geder, Stranzl, Shishkin, Mozart, Kovac, Bystrov (Dzyuba 93), Titov, Kalynychenko (Boyarintsev 65), Pavlyuchenko (Owusu-Abeyie 74).

Bayern Munich and Inter Milan qualify from Group B, with Spartak going to the UEFA Cup.

Benfica play at Manchester United Wednesday, needing to win to go through. Captain Simão was optimistic: "The recent games with Celtic and Sporting are a good example of what we can do. The important thing is not to concede goals, and then score. We have every chance of going through."

Coach Fernando Santos was also not resigned to going out: "Nothing is impossible, either in football or in life. Yes, there are situations that are more or less difficult. This will be a Final, which we're approaching with the idea that we can go through."

The only change in the Benfica squad from that which beat Sporting on Friday is João Coimbra for Manú:

Goalkeepers: Quim, Moretto.

Defenders: Nélson, Luisão, Anderson, Ricardo Rocha, Léo, Miguelito.

Midfielders: Petit, Katsouranis, Nuno Assis, Karagounis, Beto, Paulo Jorge, João Coimbra.

Forwards: Miccoli, Nuno Gomes, Simão Sabrosa, Kikin Fonseca, Mantorras.

FC Porto face Arsenal at the Dragão, both sides needing just a draw to go through. The Porto squad will look like this:

Goalkeepers: Helton, Vítor Baía;

Defenders: Bosingwa, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Ricardo Costa, Fucile;

Midfielders: João Paulo, Paulo Assunção, Raul Meireles, Ibson, Lucho González, Vieirinha, Tarik, Ricardo Quaresma;

Forwards: Bruno Moraes, Hélder Postiga, Lisandro López

24/11/06

Sporting Braga lost their second of three games in the UEFA Cup group stage Thursday, 0-2 at Seville. Luís Fabiano got the first just before the break, Chevantón the second a quarter of an hour from time. Braga must now win their last group game at home to Grasshoppers to have any chance of going through.

The teams lined up:

Seville: Palop, Daniel Alves, Javi Navarro, Escudé, David, Adriano (Alfaro 78), Renato, Poulsen, Puerta, Kanouté (Kepa 79), Luís Fabiano (Chevantón 65).

Sporting Braga: Paulo Santos, Luís Filipe, Paulo Jorge, Nem (Wender 70), Carlos Fernandes (João Pinto 82), Frechaut, Ricardo Chaves, Vandinho, Maciel, Zé Carlos (Castanheira 70), Cesinha

23/11/06

Sporting are out of the Champions League after a 0-1 defeat at Inter Milan Wednesday. The side was weakened by the absence of striker Liedson (suspended) and the injury to two full backs early on (Caneira and Abel, his substitute). Crespo got Inter's goal on 36 minutes to take the Italian giants through from Group B, along with Bayern Munich. Inter's Luís Figo, benched, who began his career at Sporting, was criticised by some in Portugal for effusively celebrating Sporting's goal. Sporting can qualify for the UEFA Cup if they draw their last game against Spartak Moscow.

The teams lined up:

Inter: Júlio César, Maicon, Ivan Cordoba, Marco Materazzi, Fábio Grosso (Esteban Cambiasso 81), Olivier Dacourt (Mariano Gonzalez 89), Javier Zanetti, Patrick Vieira, Dejan Stankovic, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Hernán Crespo.

Sporting: Ricardo, Caneira (Abel 14, Miguel Veloso 26), Tonel, Anderson Polga, Rodrigo Tello, Custódio, Paredes, Farnerud (Carlos Martins 56), João Moutinho, Nani e Alecsandro. Treinador: Paulo Bento.

Group B standings:

1. Bayern Munich 11 points from 5 games
2. Inter Milan 9
3.
Sporting 5
4. Spartak Moscow 2

22/11/06

FC Porto took a giant step towards qualification for the next phase of the Champions League Tuesday with a brilliant 2-0 win at CSKA Moscow. Ricardo Quaresma, the official Man of the Match, put Porto ahead on just two minutes, with Argentinian midfielder Lucho González adding on the hour.

Porto need a point from their final game at Arsenal to make sure of qualification to the next phase.

The teams lined up:

CSKA: Igor Akinfeev, Berezutskiy, Berezutskiy, Samberas, Aldonin, Dudu Cearense (Kochubey 26), Krasic (Ivica Olic 66), Zhirkov, Elver Rahimic, Daniel Carvalho, Vagner Love.

FC Porto: Helton, Bosingwa, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Fucile, Paulo Assunção, Raúl Meireles (Jorginho 70), Lucho González, Lisandro Lopez, Ricardo Quaresma (Alan 88), Hélder Postiga (Bruno Moraes 76).

Benfica kept their Champions League hopes alive with a comfortable and emphatic 3-1 win over an ordinary FC Copenhagen. If Benfica had beaten the Danish side in the first match of the group, which was well within their grasp, the Lisbon giants would not now be dependent on their last game: they must win at Manchester United to go through.

On the night, Benfica were very comfortable winners over a Danish side that had only Gronkjaer as any real threat, and they finished the game off before half-time with two goals from the excellent Italian striker and Official Man of the Match Miccoli and another, the first, from Brazilian left back Léo. Allback got a consolation for Copenhagen just before the end.

The teams lined up:

Benfica: Quim, Nélson, Anderson, Ricardo Rocha, Léo, Petit, Katsouranis (Mantorras 85), Nuno Assis (Karagounis 80), Miccoli (Karyaka 70), Simão, Nuno Gomes.

FC Copenhagen: Christiansen, Jacobsen, Norregaard (Berglund 58), Hangeland, Linderoth, Silberbauer (Kvist 58), Gronkjaer, Allback, Hutchinson, Gravgaard, Wendt (Bergvold 80)

Benfica's task for qualification to the knockout phase was complicated by Celtic beating Manchester United 1-0 in Glasgow – a result that qualifies Celtic and means that Manchester United must get at least a draw against Benfica in the last game of the group at Old Trafford.

03/11/06

Sporting Braga put a cherry on the top of Portugal's week in Europe Thursday with an emphatic 4-0 win over Czech Republic side Slovan Liberec at the Braga Municipal Stadium.

Braga were one up on the half hour, winger Maciel taking advantage of a defensive mistake to take the ball down the right and cross low for Ricardo Chaves to turn in. Three minutes later it was two, Cesinha taking advantage of poor defending on the left this time and crossing for Marcel to knock in at the back post.

Seven minutes into the second half, Zapotocny well and truly condemned his side to defeat with a rash challenge on sub Matheus which gave a penalty, Cesinha converting. Shortly afterwards, Singlar hit the bar with a shot lofted in from way out on the right, but it was to be Braga who would score next, right at the end, sub João Pinto shooting from outside the area and forcing Marek Cech to palm onto the bar, only for another sub, Bruno Gama, to get to the rebound first and poke home.

Sporting Braga: Paulo Santos, Luís Filipe, Nem, Irineu, Pedro Costa, Andrés Madrid, Vandinho, Ricardo Chaves (Bruno Gama 86), Maciel, Césinha (João Pinto 76), Marcel (Matheus, 46).

Slovan Liberec: Marek Cech, Peter Singlar, Tomas Zapotocny, Pavel Kastal, Daniel Pudil, Júri Bilek, Ivan Hodur (Juraj Ancic 63), Petr Papousek, Tomas Frejlach (Radek Hachmeister 84), Jan Holenda, Zbyner Pospech (Winston Parks 46).

Sporting Braga, initially sponsored this season by the online gambling site sportingbet.com, have been forced by the Portuguese courts to suppress publicity alluding to it, having to cover the logo on their shirts with a black strip. On Thursday, they wore shirts with nothing … except that the Slovan players took the field wearing shirts emblazoned with the logo of the current sponsors of the Portuguese Liga, another online gambling site: bwin.com [betandwin].

In the other Group C game, Dutch side AZ Alkmaar thrashed Grasshoppers 5-2 in Switzerland, leaving them top on six points. Braga are now second on three, with Slovan and Sevilla on one. Grasshoppers are bottom with no points.

02/11/06

Benfica avenged their 0-3 defeat two weeks ago in Glasgow by beating Celtic 3-0 at the Luz Wednesday (curiously, each of the four times the two clubs have met in Europe, the score has been the same). As Manchester United lost 0-1 at FC Copenhagen in the same Group F, the group has been blown wide open: Manchester United are on nine points, Celtic six and Benfica and FC Copenhagen four. It was the first time Benfica had scored in the group.

They started strongly and confidently, but benefited from two calamitous mistakes from Celtic central defender Gary Caldwell: on eight minutes, he turned a Nélson cross into his own goal, with Nuno Gomes lurking behind him. Then on 22, he took his eye off a long clearance from Quim and the ball grazed his head, falling perfectly for Nuno Gomes to sweep it past Boruc.

Early in the second half, Miller, who had been Benfica's executioner in Glasgow, forced Quim to turn his effort onto the bar, but it was the closest Celtic, poor on the night, would come. Fernando Santos brought Russian midfielder Karyaka on on 65 minutes, and ten minutes later he calmly finished off a superb one-touch move down the right, planting a Nélson cut-back past Boruc's left hand.

The teams lined up:

Benfica: Quim, Nélson, Luisão, Ricardo Rocha, Léo, Katsouranis, Petit (Beto 83), Nuno Assis, Miccoli (Karyaka 66), Nuno Gomes (Mantorras 88), Simão.

Celtic: Boruc, Telfer, Caldwell, McManus, Naylor, Nakamura, Lennon, Sno (Zurawski 71), Maloney (McGeady 64), Miller Pearson.

A note for the excellent
atmosphere at the Luz, where Celtic's approximately 10,000 fans blended in with the 50,000 home fans without a hint of trouble. Earlier in the day, many had made the pilgrimage to the National Stadium (Jamor) where the great Celtic team of the 60s, the so-called 'Lisbon Lions', won Britain's first European Cup in 1967.

Meanwhile, FC Porto were making it a splendid double for Portugal with an emphatic 3-1 win at Hamburg, who go out with no points. Argentinian captain Lucho González put Porto in front just before the break with what will surely end up being one of the goals of the competition, volleying in a clearance from outside the area. His compatriot Lisandro López made it two on the hour, getting in front of his marker to bundle home a Quaresma cross from the left. Porto lost concentration momentarily a minute later, allowing Van de Vaart to head home, but the two-goal lead was restored in the final minutes, Bruno Moraes shooting low from outside the area.

CSKA Moscow's suprising draw at Arsenal has also thrown this Group G wide open, with the Russian team on eight points, Arsenal and Porto on seven.

The teams lined up:

Hamburg: Kirschstein, Mahdavikia, Kompany (Klingbeil 71), Mathijsen, Atouba (Berisha 65), Feilhaber, Sorín, Trochowski, Van der Vaart, Ljuboja (Guerrero 58), Sanogo.

FC Porto: Helton, Bosingwa, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Fucile, Paulo Assunção, Raul Meireles (Cech 92), Lucho González, Quaresma, Lisandro López (Jorginho 82), Hélder Postiga (Bruno Moraes 70).

01/11/06

Sporting put in a decent performance in front of 66,000 at Bayern Munich's Alianz Arena Tuesday but were unable to translate their possession and good approach play into clear chances; the game was 70 minutes old before Kahn was forced to make a proper save. Under-strength Bayern's display was the corollary to this: their approach play was ragged, but their forwards Pizarro, Santa Cruz and especially Makaay were always dangerous, the Dutchman having several good opportunities, although he did not appear to have his scoring boots on. Sporting's best chance came in the second half, João Moutinho hitting the bar from a free-kick, with Kahn rooted to the spot.

In the other game in the group, Inter Milan beat Spartak Moscow and go second, with Bayern already through. Sporting drop to third and need to win in Milan in two weeks' time to have a realistic chance of qualifying for the knock-out phase. Sporting will, however, be without striker Liedson, yellow-carded near the end of the Bayern game and suspended due to accumulation.

The teams lined up:

Bayern: Kahn, Sagnol, Van Buyten, Demichelis, Lahm, Lell (Dos Santos 46), Ottl, Salihamidzic (Karimi 79).

Sporting: Ricardo, Caneira, Tonel, Polga, Tello, Paredes (Farnerud 51), Custódio, João Moutinho, Carlos Martins (Nani 46), Liedson

31/10/06

Sporting have trained in Bayern's Arena ahead of their Champions League clash Tuesday. Despite recent disappointing results, coach Paulo Bento was upbeat, insisting that the team would "play to win."

20/10/06

Sporting Braga got off to the worst possible start in the group phase of the UEFA cup Thursday, going down heavily 0-3 at AZ Alkmaar of Holland. Braga kept a well organised AZ to just the one goal at half time, through Arveladze on 35 minutes. But in a five minute spell midway through the second half they trailed by three goals, and then there was no remedy possible: Koevermans and Schaars did the damage.

The teams lined up:

AZ Alkmaar: Didulica, Jaliens, Mendes da Silva, Opdam, Tim de Cler, Martens, Cziommer (Steinsson 46), Demy de Zeeuw, Stijn Schaar (Molhoek 79), Arveladze, (Koevermans 71), Dembélé.

Sporting Braga: Paulo Santos, Luís Filipe, Paulo Jorge, Mauricio, Carlos Fernández, Andrés Madrid, Hugo Leal, (João Pinto 43), Ricardo Chaves, Maciel (Zé Carlos 67), Marcel, Wender (Cesinha 55).

19/10/06

Sporting took a step back in their ambitions to qualify for the next phase of the Champions League Wednesday, going down 0-1 at home to European giants and runaway leaders in Group B Bayern Munich. Inter Milan beat Spartak Moscow for their first win and are now on three points, one behind Sporting and six behind Bayern.

Sporting were never inferiror to Bayern but bowed to their experience, with luck also in evidence. Bayern got the decisive goal relatively early on, Schweinsteiger swerving in a shot from 25 metres that Ricardo saw late as it flashed past his left hand. The same Schweinsteiger was sent off at the beginning of the second half - good luck for Sporting for the next game in Germany where he will be suspended - but Polga hit the post with a shot in the second half - bad luck. Sporting are still in with a good chance of qualification, but Wednesday's result makes it a little more difficult for this young side.

Sporting: Ricardo, Caneira, Tonel, Polga, Tello, Miguel Veloso (Carlos Paredes 69), João Moutinho, Nani, Carlos Martins (Yannick Djaló 46), Alecsandro (Carlos Bueno 56), Liedson.

Bayern Munish: Kahn, Sagnol, Lúcio, Van Buyten, Lahm, Ottl (Demichelis 46), Van Bommel, Schweinsteiger, Pizarro, Santa Cruz (Salihamidzic 49), Podolski (Dos Santos 64).

18/10/06

Portugal's two representatives in the Champions League Tuesday had very different fortunes.

FC Porto faced Hamburg, who haven't won in any competition so far this season. The game at the Dragão was no exception, with Porto coasting to a 4-1 win. Argentinian striker Lisandro Lopez got the first of two on 14 minutes, a tap-in after good work from Anderson on the left. The other Argentinian in the Porto team, captain Lucho Gonzalez, got the second on the stroke of half time, clipping home a penalty given for hand-ball. In the second half, Hélder Postiga confirmed his good form with a header from a cross by Quaresma, although it appeared that he was offside. Then Lisandro Lopez got his second on 80 minutes, prodding past the oncoming Kirschstein after a mazy run and through ball from sub Bruno Morães, making hs comeback after more than a year out through injury. Hamburg got a late consolation through their best player Trochowski, cutting in from the left and placing the ball beyond Helton's left hand. A black spot for Porto was the injury just before half time of influential midfielder Anderson, who will be sorely missed for the weekend's clássico at Sporting.

In the other game in the group, surprise package CSKA beat Arsenal 1-0 in Moscow to go top on seven points. Arsenal have six and Porto four. Porto visit Hamburg for their next game.

The teams lined up:

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Cech, Raul Meireles, Lucho Gonzalez, Anderson (Jorginho 43), Quaresma (Vieirinha 78), Hélder Postiga (Bruno Moraes 75), Lisandro Lopez.

Hamburg: Kirschstein: Benjamin (Fillinger 46), Wicky (Klingbeil 53), Mathijsen, Atouba (Guerrero 67), Mahdavikia, De Jong, Trochowski, Sorin, Ljuboja, Sanogo.

Benfica met a Celtic team on peak form in Glasgow and went down 0-3. The Scottish champions piled on early pressure, Quim keeping out a firece Maloney shot. Then Benfica appeared to rally after ten or 15 minutes, putting together some neat midfield moves, but to little real effect. They had perhaps the best chance of the half, however, Kastsouranis heading over a Léo cross when he should have done better. Ten minutes into the second half, it was Celtic who took the lead, with Maloney crossing low from the left, Nakamura helping it on and Miller finishing it off. Two minutes later, Nuno Assis was within a whisker of equalising, but his fine drive pinged off the bar. Then on 66 minutes the same Miller got the second, finishing off a lethally rapid counter attack from Celtic, catching most of the Benfica players up for a corner.at the other end. And the final nail in the coffin was banged in by Pearson a minutes from time after Quim had only succeeded in palming out a shot from the left.

Benfica are now in trouble; they have scored no goals in three games and have just one point, the same as FC Copenhagen. Manchester United are top of the group on nine points after beating the Danish side 3-0 at Old Trafford. Benfica will need to beat Celtic at the Luz in the next game to be able to continue to dream.

The teams lined up:

Celtic: Boruc, Telfer, Caldwell, McManus, Naylor, Lennon, Sno (Pearson 87 ), Nakamura, Zurawski (Jarosik 83 ), Maloney, Miller.

Benfica: Quim, Alcides, Luisão, Ricardo Rocha, Léo, Katsouranis (Nélson 71), Petit, Nuno Assis, Miccoli, Nuno Gomes (Fonseca 77), Simão.

04/10/06

Sporting Braga, Portugal's only representative left in the UEFA Cup, will face Seville (Spain, the holders), Slovan Liberec (Czech Republic), AZ Almaar (Holland) and Grasshoppers (Switzerland) in the group phase. The firsty three teams in the group go through to the knockout stage.

The full fixture list for Group C:

19 October

AZ Alkmaar v Sp. Braga
Slovan Liberec v Sevilha

2 November

Sp. Braga v Slovan Liberec
Grasshoppers v AZ Alkmaar

23 November

Seville v Sp. Braga
Slovan Liberec v Grasshoppers

29 November

Grasshoppers v Sevilha
AZ Alkmaar v Slovan Liberec

14 December

Sevilha v AZ Alkmaar
Sp. Braga v Grasshoppers

29/09/06

Sporting Braga are the only one of the trio of Portuguese clubs in the UEFA Cup who managed to pass to the group stage. They took a 2-0 lead to Verona and it looked like it would be relatively comfortable to get past Chievo. But the Italians, helped by sloppy defending, pulled the tie level with goal from Titibocchi on 39 minutes and Godeas on 67. Then just before half time of extra time, Wender rose to loop a header beyond the right hand of Sicignamo and put Braga into the group stage for the first time in three times of trying. Chievo had Sammarco (68m) and Zanchette (107) sent off.

The teams lined up:

Chievo: Sicignamo; Marcolini (Brighi 86), Scurto (Moro 10), Mandelli, Malagó, Kosowski, Sammarco, Zanchette, Luciano, Toribocchi, Bruno (Godeas 53).

Sporting Braga: Paulo Santos, Frechaut, Nem, Paulo Jorge, Carlos Fernandes, Madrid; Luís Filipe, João Pinto, Hugo Leal (Maciel 45), Wender (Maurício 108), Zé Carlos (Cesinha 65).

Madeiran side Nacional are out after losing at home (in fact neighbour Marítimo's home - Nacional's one-sided Estádio Engenheiro Rui Alves is not adequate for European games) to Romanian Rapid Bucharest. A Juliano free-kcik on 28 minutes was enough to make the score at full-time 1-0, cancelling out the 0-1 in Bucharest two weeks ago. But one minute into extra time, Rada gave Rapid the upper hand, and Burdujan put the tie well and truly beyond Nacional nine minutes later. Nacional's task was no easier after sub Bruno Basto was sent off on 92 minutes for kicking an opponent in the face.

The teams lined up:

Nacional: Diego Benaglio, José Vítor, Ricardo Fernandes, Ávalos, Alonso, Bruno Amaro, Rodrigo (Cássio 69), Chainho (Cléber 104), Adriano (Bruno Basto 66), Chilikov, Juliano.

Rapid Bucharest : Coman; Rada, Ziko (Griffiths, 57 m), M. Constantin e Badoi; Karamyan, Lazar, Grigoré (Maldarasanu, 97 m) e Maftei; Buga e Moldovan (Burdujan, 70 m).

Vitória de Setúbal managed to salvage a little bit of their pride with a 0-0 draw at Dutch side Heerenveen. Two weeks ago, the 0-3 defeat at 'home' (Sporting's Alvalade stadium) had been the catalyst for the dismissal of coach Hélio. His successor Toni is already putting some discipline into Vitória's play and looks set to repeat the good job he did at Estrela da Amadora last season. But Heerenveen go through.

The teams lined up:

Heerenveen: Vandenbussche, Zuiverloon (Breuer 79), Hansson, Dingsdag, Drost, Bosvelt (Kissi 81), Prager, Pranjic (Bradley 72), Afonso Alves, Friend, Nilsson.

Vitória Setúbal: João Paulo, Janício, Hugo, Auri, Nandinho (Ademar 46), Binho, Sandro, Julien (Labarthe 39), Bruno Ribeiro, Amuneke, Lourenço (Varela 76).

28/09/06

Sporting salvaged a little bit of Portuguese pride Wednesday when they drew 1-1 at difficult Spartak Moscow. Spartak went one up after just five minutes, Boyrintcev taking advantage of a defensive mistake by Tonel. Sporting went the rest of the first half trying to come to terms with the synthetic pitch, but in the second half they found their feet a little and went level on the hour, Nani playing a neat one-two with Liedson before striding on, rounding the 'keeper and hooking in from a narrow angle.

The teams lined up:

Sporting: Ricardo, Miguel Garcia (Alecsandro 46), Tonel (Paredes 58), Polga, Caneira, Miguel Veloso, Tello, Nani, João Moutinho, Yannick Djaló (João Alves 82), Liedson.

Spartak Moscovo: Kowalewski, Stranzl, Geder, Jiranek, Shyshkin, Kovac, Mozart (Rebko 80), Boyrintcev, Bistrov, Titov, Pavlyuchenko (Owusu-Abeyie 80).

Inter Milan lost for the second time, 0-2 at home to Bayern Munich. The German team lead the group with Sporting second on four points.

27/09/06

Two of the three Portuguese teams in the Champions League, the two Portuguese clubs that have won the competition, lost Tuesday, both to English opposition. Both are now third in their respective groups, with only one point.

Manchester United got some revenge for the 2-1 defeat at the Luz last season that put them out of the competition. At the Luz again, Benfica dominated the first half territorially but were unable to open up the United defence. In the second, Benfica were less exuberant, and they went behind on the hour: on the break: Louis Saha took the ball down the right, cut inside Anderson and drove high into the top left hand corner, helped by a deflection off Anderson's foot. Benfica's reaction proved limp, and by the end, there was the worrying sign of white handkerchiefs in the stands, presaging problems for coach Fernando Santos after an untidy start to the season at home and in Europe. Man of the match was Cristiano Ronaldo, who made up for a disgraceful display in the same game last season, when he was sent off.

The teams lined up:

Benfica: Quim, Alcides, Luisão, Anderson (Mantorras 82), Léo, Katsouranis, Petit, Paulo Jorge (Miccoli 65), Karagounis (Nuno Assis 62), Simão, Nuno Gomes.

Manchester United: Van der Sar, Gary Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, Heinze, Carrick; Cristiano Ronaldo, Scholes, O´Shea, Rooney (Fletcher 85), Saha (Alan Smith 85).

In the other game in Group F, Celtic beat FC Copenhagen 1-0.

FC Porto, who look unbeatable domestically, looked like minnows against Arsenal in London. The Gunners played a tactically perfect game, mounting the pressure in the first half, and sitting comfortably back once they had gone 2-0 up. Man of the Match Henry headed Arsenal in front on 38 minutes, Hleb fired in the second on 48, and Porto looked powerless to turn the tide from then on in.

The teams lined up:

Arsenal: Lehman, Eboué, Touré, Gallas (Song, 93), Hoyte, Gilberto, Fabregas, Hleb (Walcott 86), Rosicky, Van Persie (Ljungberg 74), Thierry Henry.

FC Porto: Helton, Bosingwa, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Ricardo Costa (Raul Meireles 46), Paulo Assunção, Cech, Lucho, Anderson (Adriano 66), Quaresma, Hélder Postiga (Lisandro 46).

In the other game in Group G, CSKA Moscow beat Hamburg 1-0.

17/09/06

After Thursday night's UEFA Cup results (defeats for Nacional and Vitória de Setúbal) Portugal has dropped to 6th in the UEFA club rankings behind Spain, Italy, England France and Germany.

15/09/06

The Portuguese representatives in the UEFA Cup had a range of fortunes in their First Round, first legs.

Sporting Braga appear to have the best chance of proceeding after a 2-0 home win over Chievo. The Italian team were the more organised throughout, but Braga had more incisiveness and got off to a great start through central defender Paulo Jorge on just six minutes. The nippy Maciel came on after 40 minutes and revolutionised Braga's play. He was brought down in the box on the stroke of time for Wender to score from the spot. Chievo were reduced to nine in the last five minutes with reds for Marchese and Semioli.

The teams lined up:

Sporting Braga: Paulo Santos, Luís Filipe, Paulo Jorge, Nem, Carlos Fernandes (Frechaut 16), Ricardo Chaves (Maciel 40), Madrid, Hugo Leal, João Pinto, Wender, Zé Carlos (Marcel 77).

Chievo: Squizzi, Malago, Mandelli, Mantovanni, Marchese, Semioli, Zanchetta, Sammarco (Brighi 50), Kosowski (Marcoloni 69), Godeas (Tiribocchi 77), Bruno Salvatore.

Nacional of Madeira went down at Rapid Bucharest of Romania, but the single goal difference will give them hope for the return. The veteran Moldovan got Rapid's goal when the Nacional defence lost concentration just before the break. Goalkeeper Diego was Nacional's hero.

The teams lined up:

Rapid: Coman, Rada, Marius Constantin, Maftei, Badoi, Lazar, Grigore (Maldarasanu 80), Lazar, Karamyan, Buga, Moldovan, Zicu (Grifiths 63).

Nacional: Diego, Emerson, Cardozo, Ricardo Fernandes, Alonzo, Chainho, Cléber, Bruno Amaro, Juliano (Vinícius 68), Serginho Baiano (Luciano 90), Rodrigo (Chilikov 76).

Vitória de Setúbal look to be out already. In an even first half against Dutch side Heerenveen, Vitória's Auri was closest, heading against the bar, but in the second half they collapsed. Afonso Alves got two from free-kicks, the second coming down from the bar and rebounding in off Marco Tábuas, while Nilsson walked the third in after Tábuas had collided with Hugo. The game was played at Sporting's Alvalade stadium because Vitória's Bonfim was deemed not suitable for this competition.

The teams lined up:

Vitória de Setúbal: Marco Tábuas, Janício, Auri, Hugo, Nandinho, Sandro, Binho, Adalto (Amuneke 68), Varela, Lourenço (Mário Carlos 80), Bruno Ribeiro (M´Bamba 68).

Heerenveen: Vandenbussche, Zuiverloon, Dingsdag, Peter Hansson, Breuer, Paul Bosvelt (Kissi 76), Thomas Prager, Pranjic, Lasse Nilsson, Robert Friend (Tarvajari 80), Afonso Alves (Yildirim 88).

14/09/06

FC Porto and Benfica's champions League games were the only two to end goalless Wednesday.

FC Porto's best chance at home to CSKA Moscow fell to brilliant youngster Anderson on 15 minutes, his drive flying off the left-hand post. For the rest of the game, CSKA 'keeper Akinfeev, Man of the Match, and some wayward finishing were the only things keeping Porto from nabbing all three points as they pushed for the win.

FC Porto: Helton, Bosingwa, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Ezequias, Paulo Assunção, Lucho, Anderson, Sektioui (Hélder Postiga 46), Quaresma (Alan 61), Adriano (Lisandro López 71).

CSKA: Akinfeev, Ignashevich, Semberas, Aleksei Berezutski, Rahimic, Aldonin, Krasic, Zhirkov, Daniel Carvalho (Gusev 92), Dudu (Vassili Berezutski 87), Vágner Love (Olic 76).

Benfica seemed to have the opposite intention from Porto in their game at FC Copenhagen, playing it cagey virtually throughout. But the best chance fell to them, Paulo Jorge producing 15 minutes from time a carbon copy of Anderson's shot in the other game, the ball bouncing back off the post and into the arms of Christiansen.

FC Copenhagen: Christiansen, Jacobsen, Hangeland, Gravgaard, Bergdolmo, Silberbauer, Norregaard, Linderoth, Hutchinson, Gronkjaer (Kvist 44), Berglund (Pimpong 73).

Benfica: Quim, Alcides, Ricardo Rocha, Luisão, Léo, Petit, Katsouranis, Paulo Jorge, Nuno Assis, Simão (Manu 80), Nuno Gomes (Kikin Fonseca 89).

In a fortnight, Porto and Benfica are away to Arsenal and at home to Manchester United, respectively.

13/09/06

Sporting got off to an excellent start in Group B of the Champoions League Tuesday, beating Luís Figo´s mighty Inter Milan 1-0 in Alvalade. This was and efficient, businesslike performance from Sporting, especially defensively, where young holding midfielder Miguel Veloso was the star of a young team. Sporting's goal came on 64 minutes, Marco Caneira cutting inside Dacourt on the left and unleashing a swerving drive that Toldo got a hand to but couldn't stop. Five minutes later, Inter's job was made harder still with the expulsion of Vieira for a heavy challenge.

The teams lined up:

Sporting: Ricardo, Abel, Tonel, Polga, Caneira, Miguel Veloso, Nani (Tello 82), Romagnoli (Alecsandro 65), João Moutinho, Yannick Djaló, Liedson.

Inter: Toldo, Maicon, Córdoba, Samuel, Grosso (Zanetti 79), Dacourt, Vieira, Stankovic, Luís Figo (Gonzalez 65), Ibrahimovic, Adriano (Hernan Crespo 71).

Ao intervalo: 0-0
co Caneira
Marcador: Caneira, 64 minutos

Acção disciplinar: cartão amarelo para Liedson (16), João Moutinho (21), Córdoba (27), Toldo (32) e Vieira (44 e 69)). Cartão vermelho por acumulação para para Vieira (69).

26/08/06

Sporting Braga will play Italian club Chievo (of Verona) in the first round proper of the UEFA Cup, with the first leg played in Braga. Chievo were prevented from entering the Champions League by Levski Sofia.

Taça de Portugal finalists Vitória de Setúbal will face Heerenveen of Holland (at home first), while Nacional of Madeira have to get past Rapid Bucharest (away first).

The games will be played on 14 and 28 September.

25/08/06

Of the three Portuguese clubs through to the group stage of the Champions League, Sporting have what seems to be the hardest task, meeting Inter Milan, Bayern Munich and Spartak Moscow. Ironically, Inter were at Alvalade this week as guests in the official presentation of the Sporting squad; now Luís Figo will be returning in the first group game, and this time it will be no friendly.

Sporting's fixtures:

12 September
SPORTING v Inter Milan
27 September
Spartak Moscow v
SPORTING
18 October
SPORTING v Bayern Munich
31 October
Bayern Munich v
SPORTING
22 November
Inter Milan v
SPORTING
05 December
SPORTING v Spartak Moscow

FC Porto have maybe the 'easiest' group, although they do have to face Arsenal, last season's beaten finalists. It's the first time Porto will meet Arsenal in Europe.

FC Porto's fixtures:

13 September
F.C. PORTO v CSKA Moscow
26 de September
Arsenal v
F.C. PORTO
17 de Outubro
F.C. PORTO v Hamburg
01 November
Hamburg v
F.C. PORTO
21 November
CSKA Moscow v
F.C. PORTO
06 December
F.C. PORTO v Arsenal

Benfica meet old rivals Manchester United again – they were together in Group D last season and Benfica qualified for the last 16, sending United to the bottom of the group in the process with a 2-1 win at the Luz in the last game. This time Benfica's last group game is at Old Trafford.

Benfica's fixtures:

13 September
F.C. Copenhagen v BENFICA
26 September
BENFICA v Manchester United
17 October
Celtic v
BENFICA
01 November
BENFICA v Celtic
21 November
BENFICA v F.C. Copenhagen
6 December
Manchester United v
BENFICA

Deco has won the UEFA award as best midfielder in last season's Champions League.

23/08/06

Benfica beat Austria Vienna 3-0 at the Luz Tuesday in the second leg of the third and final preliminary round of the Champions League; they had brought a 1-1 draw from Vienna. Benfica join FC Porto and Sporting in the Group stage – the first time that three Portuguese clubs have qualified together. The draw for the eight groups takes place on Thursday.

Benfica, playing some tidy football, had an easy time of it against a poor Vienna side who rarely troubled Quim in the Benfica goal. They were ahead on 20 minutes, much to the delight of the 58,110 at the Luz, Rui Costa driving in a Nuno Gomes lay-off outside the area after good work on the right by Manú. If Austria had kept it at that into the second half, they might have had a chance, but on the stroke of half time, a poor clearance from otherwise decent Safar was knocked back goalwards by the Benfica midfield and Nuno Gomes was quickest to it to take it on and knock it past the oncoming 'keeper. Quim was most troubled by a shot from Wallner on 55 minutes, but from the resulting corner, Benfica swept upfield, the ball fell to Manú on the left and he touched it past the 'keeper for Petit to tap home.

The teams lined up:

Benfica: Quim, Nélson, Luisão, Anderson, Ricardo Rocha, Petit (Beto 74), Katsouranis, Manu, Rui Costa (Kikin Fonseca 65), Paulo Jorge (Mantorras 84), Nuno Gomes.

Austria Vienna: Safar, Troyanski, Tokic, Hill, Papac (Schicker 29), Radomski, Blanchard, Winner, Che (Pichlmann 53), Mila (Lasnik 46), Wallner

22/08/06

Austria Vienna trained in Lisbon ahead of Tuesday's Second Leg of the Champions League Preliminary Round against Benfica. "No one in Austria expects us to knock Benfica out," said coach Frenkie Schinkels "... not even my wife." Benfica bring a 1-1 draw back from the first leg.

09/08/06

Benfica brought away a positive result (1-1) from Austria Vienna in the final preliminary round of the Champions League Tuesday. In a scrappy game, Nuno Gomes put Benfica in front on 15 minutes with a back heel from a Paulo Jorge cross, reminiscent of the famous goal by FC Porto's Madjer in the 1987 European Cup Final triumph over Bayern Mnuich in the same stadium. The lead lasted 20 minutes, Blanchard driving from outside the box and leaving an unsighted Quim rooted to the spot.

The teams lined up:

Austria Vienna: Safar, Troyansky, Tokic, Radomski, Papac, Wimmer (Mila 46) Blanchard, Vachousek, Lasnik (Pichlmann 82), Aigner (Ceh 46), Wallner.

Benfica: Quim, Ricardo Rocha, Luisão, Anderson, Nélson, Manu (Marco Ferreira, 69), Katsouranis, Petit, Paulo Jorge (Nuno Assis 88), Rui Costa, Nuno Gomes (Fonseca 79).

Benfica now have the upper hand for the return leg on 23 August. But coach
Fernando Santos was pre-empting any over-confidence: "We have to think that to get through we need to win at the Luz."

29/07/06

Benfica will face Austria of Vienna in the final qualifying round of the Champions League, to be played on 08/08 (Vienna) and 23/08 (Lisbon). Tickets for the second leg will be available to the general public from 6 August and will cost between 22 and 60 euros.

 

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