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european competitions - 2007/08

footballportugal

11/04/08

Sporting whimpered out of the UEFA Cup Thursday, going down 0-2 at home to Rangers of Scotland. In a scrappy game, it was Sporting who had more shots (20), but only a couple of times did they really look like scoring, Liedson hitting the post with a header in the first half, Tonel heading just wide in the second. Rangers, on the other hand, were very solid at the back and deadly in the few chances they had. Davis took advantage of a mix up between Gladstone and Miguel Veloso on the hour to feed Darcheville, who stroked the ball coolly past Rui Patrício. And then in added time at the end of the game, sub Whittaker waltzed through a strangely passive Sporting rearguard to make it two.

The teams lined up:

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Tonel, Gladstone (Pereirinha 68), Grimi (Tiuí 77), Miguel Veloso, João Moutinho, Romagnoli, Izmailov (Yannick 61), Liedson, Vukcevic.

Rangers: McGregor, Broadfoot, Cuéllar, Dailly, Papac, Hemdani, Thomson, Davis, Ferguson, McCulloch (Whittaker 77), Darcheville (Daniel Cousin 71).

04/04/08

In the quarter-final of the UEFA Cup, Sporting came away from Ibrox Thursday with a 0-0 draw against Rangers that augurs well for the return leg. It was a cagey game, with both defences predominant. Sporting had more and better chances, but chief hope Liedson, and others, were firing with blanks. It was the first time ever that Sporting had not lost in Scotland.

The teams lined up:

Rangers: McGregor, Broadfoot, Cuellar, Weir, Papac, Hemdani, Thomson, Davis, Ferguson, McCulloch, Darcheville (Novo 71).

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Tonel, Polga, Grimi, João Moutinho, Miguel Veloso, Romagnoli, Izmailov (Pereirinha 70), Liedson, Vukcevic (Yannick 75).

23/03/08

Rangers will hand out 2,500 free tickets to their fans for the UEFA Cup Quarter-Final, second leg against Sporting at Alvalade on 10 April. The Board at Ibrox want to thank the fans for their support this year; the tickets will cost close to 65,000 euros.

15/03/08

Sporting have been drawn against Glasgow Rangers in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup. The Lions play in Scotland on 3 April and in Lisbon a week later.

The draw:

Glasgow Rangers v Sporting
Bayer Leverkusen v Zenit
Bayern Munique v Getafe
Fiorentina v PSV Eindhoven

Sporting played Rangers on an infamous European night in 1971 in the Cup-Winners' Cup. Bringing a 2-3 deficit back from Scotland in the last-16 tie, Sporting won the Lisbon leg 3-2 after 90 minutes, sending the game into extra time. Henderson scored for Rangers and Peres for Sporting from the spot to make it 6-6 on aggregate. The Dutch referee Van Ravens ordered penalties to be taken, and Sporting legend Damas was immense, saving Rangers' first three spot kicks. When Stein missed the next one, Alvalade went wild, thinking that Sporting were through. Not so. The referee had misinterpreted the rules, and the goal that Henderson had scored in extra time counted for more than Peres', putting Rangers through. They went on to win the trophy, their only one in Europe to date.

The teams on the night:

Sporting: Damas, Pedro Gomes, Caló, Laranjeira, Hilário, Tomé (Nélson 65), Vagner, Fernando Peres, Lourenço, Yazalde, Dinis (Marinho 81).

Rangers: McLoy, Greig, McKinnon (Smith 73), Jackson, Mathison, Jardine, Conn, Henderson, Stein, Johnston (McLean 65), McDonald.

Scorers: 1-0, Yazalde (25 minutes); 1-1, Stein (26); 2-1, Tomé (38); 2-2, Stein (46); 3-2, Pedro Gomes (86); 3-3, Henderson (100); 4-3, Peres (115, pen)

13/03/08

Sporting became the only Portuguese representative in the last rounds of the European tournaments after they beat Bolton Wanderers 1-0 at Alvalade Thursday. In a poor game of football, Sporting were always superior to a Bolton side fielding many second-string players. The highlight of the game came five minutes from time: a superb goal by midfielder Bruno Pereirinha, who took the ball down the right, cut inside and placed a left-footed shot into the top left-hand corner of Al-Habsi's goal.

The teams lined up:

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Tonel, Polga, Grimi, João Moutinho, Pereirinha, Izmailov (86), Gladstone, Romagnoli (Adrien 74), Vukcevic (Tiuí 56), Liedson.

Bolton: Al-Habsi, Hunt, Cahill, Méité, Samuel, Joey O' Brien, Giannakopoulos, Guthrie, Teymourian (Braaten 70), Vaz Té, Helguson (Woolfe 76).

13/03/08

A Benfica in shock after coach Camacho's departure at the weekend and lacking inspiration and legs slumped ingloriously out of the UEFA Cup to Getafe Wednesday. Taking a 1-2 deficit to Madrid, Benfica needed to score early on to open the game up, and Makukula had the goal at his feet on seven minutes, but he put Cristian Rodriguez's low cross against the post from point blank range. Getafe fielded an almost entirely reserve side through injuries and suspensions, but the stand-ins were organised enough to make Benfica's impotent proddings so ineffectual that the only save of note that Abbondanzieri had to make in the whole game came midway through the second half when Rui Costa drove a lay-off from Makukula goalwards. Twelve minutes from time, sub Pedro Mantorras slipped in the centre circle, the ball broke, Katsouranis missed a challenge and Albin strode on to chip the ball delicately over the oncoming Quim and in. It changed nothing: Benfica still needed two goals to stay in the tie. But they could still be playing in the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez and they would be no nearer scoring.

Getafe: Abbondanzieri, Contra, De la Red, Tena, Licht, Cotelo (Cortés 74), Celestini, Casquero, Gavilán (Juanfran 79), Albin, Kepa Blanco (Signorino 68).

Benfica: Quim, Nélson, Edcarlos (Sepsi 73), Katsouranis, Léo, Petit, Maxi Pereira (Di Maria 58), Rui Costa, Cristian Rodriguez, Nuno Gomes (Mantorras 65), Makukula.

07/03/08

Benfica lost to Getafe in their UEFA Cup last 16 first leg at the Luz Thursday. Things started bad for the Lisbon side, Cardozo elbowing Belenguer and seeing a direct red on just nine minutes. And Benfica were behind 15 minutes later, De la Red's shot deflecting off Edcarlos and wrongfooting Quim. They were finding it hard without a striker, and the replacement of di Maria with Mantorras on the hour gave them some focus up front, but on 67, they were 0-2 down, Pablo Hernandez given time to curl a low shot past Quim's left hand. Mantorras threw Benfica a lifeline a quarter of an hour from the end with a swerving shot that went under Ustari's body, but they will have to pull out all the stops in the second leg to get past a very competent Getafe.

The teams lined up:

Benfica: Quim, Nélson, Luisão (Zoro 29), Edcarlos, Léo, Katsouranis, Rui Costa, Cristian Rodriguez, Di Maria (Mantorras 61), Sepsi, Cardozo.

Getafe: Ustari, Contra, Belenguer, Cata Diaz, Licht, Casquero, Pablo Hernandez, De la Red (Celestini 72), Granero (Mario Cotelo 46), Albin, Bráulio (Manu 60).

The best result of the three Portuguese clubs in action this week in Europe was undoubtedly Sporting's at Bolton. They were 0-1 down on 24 minutes, McCann guiding a low shot into the left-hand corner of the net after Sporting had failed to clear, and could have been two down after Davies hit the bar. But Sporting began to play football, and Bolton were reduced to a long ball game. Sporting's football gained in clarity after Paulo Bento brought on Romagnoli at half time, and he also hit the bar before Vukcevic equalised for Sporting on 69 minutes from the edge of the area after a neat one-two with Tuíu. On the basis of Thursday's play, Bolton will be an accessible opponent at Alvalade next week.

The teams lined up:

Bolton: Al-Habsi, Nicky Hunt, Andy OBrien, Cahill, Gardner, Ivan Campo (Teymourian 84), Kevin Davies, Joey OBrien (Guthrie 66), McCann, Taylor, Helguson (Giannakopoulos 55).

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel (Romagnoli 46), Tonel, Polga, Grimi, Pereirinha, Miguel Veloso, Moutinho, Izmailov (Gladstone 84), Tiui (Adrien Silva 78), Vukcevic.

06/03/08

FC Porto crashed out of the Champions League Wednesday. Bringing a 0-1 deficit from Germany, Porto managed to beat Schalke 1-0 on the night, Lisandro López swivelling to crash in a shot off the underside of the bar from the edge of the area five minutes from time. They could have had more goals against an ultra-defensive Schalke but for the excellent Neuer in the Schalke goal, who stopped Lisandro and Tarik in the first half, and in the second half Tarik at point blank range and Quaresma, through on goal with only Neuer to beat. Extra time having brought no change to the scoreline, the keeper's minor miracles continued into the penalty shoot-out, Bruno Alves and Lisandro seeing their attempts saved. Schalke missed none and go through. Porto lose at least five million euros by failing to progress to the next round.

The teams lined up:

FC Porto: Helton, Bosingwa (Mariano González 54), Pedro Emanuel, Bruno Alves, Fucile, Lucho González, Paulo Assunção, Raul Meireles (Cech 97), Tarik Sektioui (Farías 57), Lisandro López, Ricardo Quaresma.

Schalke 04: Neuer, Rafinha, Bordon (Howedes 114), Krstajic, Westermann, Grossmuller (Rakitic 111), Jones, Ernst, Kobiashvili, Kuranyi (Asamoah 79), Halil Altintop.

22/02/08

Sporting breezed past FC Basle and into the last 16 of the UEFA Cup Thursday with a confident performance. They brought a 2-0 lead from Lisbon and had put the tie virtually beyond the Swiss side after just two minutes, Pereirinha knocking the ball in from a Liedson assist. Basle needed four goals at that point, and while they had a couple of chances, the tie was never out o Sporting's hands. Liedson added two before and after the break for a 3-0 win, 5-0 on aggregate. It was Liedson's 18th European goal for Sporting, equalling Manuel Fernandes' record.

The teams lined up:

Basle: Crayton, Zanni, Majstorovic, Marque, Hodel, Ergic (Perovic 69), Huggel (Ba 46), Carlitos, Eduardo (Frei 59), Degen, Derdiyok.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Tonel, Polga (Gladstone 54), Grimi (Ronny 68), Pereirinha, Miguel Veloso, João Moutinho, Liedson, Romagnoli (Farnerud 59), Tiuí.

Taking a 1-0 lead to
Nuremburg, Benfica put in one of their very worst performances of a poor season but miraculously join Sporting in the next round. After a promising opening quarter of an hour, Benfica's play unravelled until on the hour mark the Benfica defence allowed Charisteas space to score, and five minutes later, Luís Filipe hesitated fatally to let in Saenko. The German side were through at that point, and Benfica fans were wondering where a goal might come from in such a mess. It came from the bench in the shape of Óscar Cardozo who, in 20 minutes on the pitch, caused more problems to the German goal than Makukula in the previous 70. He missed a clear chance before scoring on 88 with a mis-hit shot that somehow found its way inside Blazek's left-hand post. Nuremberg now needed two goals, and it was very late for that … but not too late for di Maria, also on as sub, to round Blazek for Benfica's second.

The teams lined up:

Nuremberg: Blazek, Reinhardt, Wolf, Glauber, Pinola, Saenko, Galasek, Mnari (Abardonado 86), Engelhardt, Charisteas, Koller.

Benfica: Quim, Luís Filipe, Luisão, Edcarlos (Cardozo 70), Léo, Petit, Katsouranis, Maxi Pereira (Sepsi 70), Rui Costa, Nuno Assis (Di Maria 80), Makukula.

Sporting and Benfica now face
Bolton and Getafe , respectively, in the next round. The games will be played on 6 (away) and 12 or 13 March.

Starting the game already 0-3 down from the first leg against Werder Bremen was always going to be a tall order for Sporting Braga, and although the northern team retrieved some of the dignity they had lost in the first leg, they still went down 0-1 to a goal from sub Klasnic on 77 minutes, chesting a through ball past the oncoming Kieszek, who had come out of his area to intercept, before tapping in. And so Braga maintain their unenviable record: they have not won a single game in 2008.

The teams lined up:

Sporting Braga: Kieszek, João Pereira, Paulo Jorge, Rodriguez, Carlos Fernandes, Stélvio (Vandinho 60), Roberto Brum, José Manuel (Matheus 46), César Peixoto, Wender (João Tomás 46), Linz.

Werder Bremen: Wiese, Fritz, Mertesacker, Naldo, Owomoyela, Ozil, Baumann, Jensen, Borowski (Boenisch 78), Hugo Almeida, Rosenberg (Klasnic 69).

19/02/08

FC Porto returned Tuesday to Gelsenkirchen, where they won the Champions League Final in 2004, but the return was not a happy one. Kevin Kuranyi on four minutes gave Schalke 04 a 1-0 win that, while not impossible to turn around in the second leg, leaves Porto exposed to away goals. Once Schalke had got the goal, they sat back and let Porto have possession but broke dangerously when possible. Although the Portuguese Champions spent most of the game in the German half, their most dangerous attempts on goal came late in the game with a long shot by Raul Meireles, tipped over by Neuer, and Lisandro López, who had the goal at his mercy but uncharacteristically sliced wide and high.

The teams lined up:

Schalke 04: Neuer, Rafinha, Bordon, Krstajic, Westermann, Rakitic (Grossmuller 75m), Jones, Ernst, Kobiashvili, Asamoah (Altintop 80), Kuranyi (Sanchez 88).

FC Porto: Helton, João Paulo, Pedro Emanuel, Bruno Alves, Fucile (Mariano Gonzalez 85), Lucho, Paulo Assunção, Raul Meireles, Lisandro, Farias (Tarik Sektioui 56), Quaresma.

18/02/08

Injured FC Porto full back Bosingwa is out of Tuesday's Champions League tie at Schalke 04.

The squad:

Goalkeepers: Helton, Nuno;

Defenders: Bruno Alves, Fucile, Pedro Emanuel, Stepanov, Cech, João Paulo, Lino;

Midfielders: Paulo Assunção, Raul Meireles, Lucho, Kazmierczak, Quaresma, Tarik Sektioui, Hélder Barbosa, Mariano;

Forwards: Lisandro, Farías.

15/02/08

Benfica take a 1-0 lead to Nuremberg next week in the UEFA Cup. The Eagles were aimless in the first half, the German side more organised, but it was Benfica who got the only goal of the game just before half-time, Rui Costa going on a mini slalom run through the heart of the opposition midfield before laying a delightful ball off for Makukula, the giant Portuguese international striking a hard but stoppable shot from 20 metres … which Blazek failed to stop; it was Makukula's first goal in the red shirt of Benfica. Benfica came out with more ideas in the second half, and moved up a gear with the entry of di Maria and exit of (an incensed) Óscar Cardozo, but it was Nuremberg who came nearest to scoring, Engelhardt forcing Quim to a fine fingertip save. There was trouble between Nuremberg fans and the police during the first half, and several arrests were made.

The teams lined up:

Benfica: Quim, Nélson, Luisão, Katsouranis, Léo, Petit, Rui Costa, Nuno Assis (Adu 84), Rodriguez (David Luiz 84), Cardozo (Di Maria 59), Makukula.

Nuremberg: Blazek, Reinhardt, Wolf, Gláuber, Pinola, Galasek, Kluge, Engelhardt, Adler (Kristiansen 46), Saenko, Koller.

14/02/08

FC Basle started off the better team in their UEFA Cup tie at Sporting, but it was the home side that went in front on just eight minutes through Vukcevic. Sporting were soon dominating play with one of their better performances of the season, while Basle became increasingly ineffectual. Ten minutes into the second half, Moutinho dinked a little through ball on the right to Vukcevic who had time and space to crash a terrific shot high into the top left hand corner of the goal from an angle. The same player was taken off injured on 70 minutes after he dislocated his shoulder trying to reach a wayward Izmailov pass; he will be out for at least three weeks. Former Benfica winger Carlitos marked his return to Lisbon with a yellow card.

The teams lined up:

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Tonel, Polga, Grimi, Miguel Veloso, João Moutinho, Romagnoli, Izmailov (Pereirinha 72), Liedson, Vukcevic (Rodrigo Tiuí 71).

Basle: Costanzo (Crayton 44), Malick Ba, Majstorovic, Marque, Hodel, Carlitos, Ergic, Huggel, Deggen (Cabral 64), Eduardo, Derdyok.

Sporting Braga missed two penalties at Werder Bremen, failed to score an away goal, let in three and look to be in trouble to get through to the next round. Naldo put Werder in front on just four minutes from a free-kick that Paulo Santos saw late. On ten minutes, the first penalty: Linz, dribbling across the face of the goal, invented a foul and fooled the Greek referee Kasnaferis, who also booked Fritz. But justice was done when Linz allowed Wiese to save the spot kick. On 26 minutes, Jensen had acres of space in front of goal to mis-hit a shot that bounced past Santos' left hand. Ten minutes later, Braga had a second chance to score from the spot after another dubious decision, the referee seeing a foul on Mateus when it looked like the Brazilian had fallen over the keeper; Wiese saved from Jorginho this time. Braga were creating little in front of goal, and on 90 minutes, Werder got a third, Hugo Almeida scoring from the spot after yet another dubious penalty decision for hand ball by Carlos Fernandes. Braga have it all to do in the return leg.

The teams lined up:

Werder Bremen: Wiese, Owomoyela, Naldo, Mertesacker, Fritz, Jensen, Baumann, Hunt (Borowski 59), Rosenberg, Diego (Ozil 74), Hugo Almeida.

Sporting Braga: Paulo Santos, João Pereira, Paulo Jorge, Rodriguez, Carlos Fernandes, Frechaut, Contreras (Stélvio 62), Vandinho, Jorginho (Jailson 78), Linz, Matheus (Wender 67).

21/12/07

FC Porto have been drawn against German side Schalke 04 in the last 16 of the Champions League. The first leg will be in Germany on 19/20 February, the second at the Dragão on 4/5 March.

In the UEFA Cup knockout phase, Benfica meet Nuremberg, Sporting Basle and Sporting Braga Werder Bremen

20/12/07

Sporting Braga moved into the knockout stage of the UEFA Cup Wednesday with a 2-0 win over Red Star Belgrade. Man of the Match Wender fed Linz on ten minutes to put Braga in front, and the win was confirmed on 66 with a solo effort by Wender himself. Braga progress along with Bayern Munich (6-0 winners over Greek side Aris Salonika) and Bolton from Group F, and join Benfica and Sporting, who qualified as third teams in their Champions League groups.

The teams lined up

Sporting Braga: Paulo Santos, João Pereira, Paulo Jorge, Rodriguez, Carlos Fernandes, Brum (Andrés Madrid 88), Vandinho, Frechaut; Jorginho (Jaílson 73), Linz, Wender (César Peixoto 70).

Red Star: Banovic, Basta (Lucas 17), Djordjevic, Bajalica, Andjelkovic, Castillo, Milovanovic, Salas (Maurício 60), Milijas, Barcos (Filip Djordjevic 88), Koroman.

13/12/07

Sporting completed their group stage campaign in the Champions League Wednesday with a comfortable 3-0 win over Dynamo Kiev at Alvalade. The Lions were already out of the running for a place in the last 16 of the CL, won by Manchester United AS Roma, who drew 1-1 in Rome, and Dynamo were irretrievably bottom of Group F, so the main point of the game for Sporting was to restore some the club's recently damaged pride ... and of course pocket the cash awarded for a win.

The score began to be constructed on 34 minutes, central defender Anderson Polga stroking home a penalty after Liedson had been bundled over. Captain João Moutinho extended the elad on 66 minutes, and Liedson made it safe on 88, colliding with Lutsenko in the process and injuring a knee.

The teams lined up:

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Polga, Tonel, Abel, Ronny (Miguel Veloso 60), Adrien Silva, Farnerud (Vukcevic 67), Izmailov, João Moutinho, Purovic (Luiz Pães 85), Liedson.

Dynamo Kiev: Lutsenko, Gavrancic, Dopilka, Nesmachniy, Markovic, Ghioane, Gusev, Ninkovic, Rebrov (Belkevich 80), Shatskikh, Bangoura (Artem 56).

Sporting qualify for the UEFA Cup, along with Benfica . FC Porto are the only club through to the last 16 of the Champions League and learned after Wednesday's games who they might meet in the first knock-out round: Schalke 04, Olympiakos, Celtic, Lyon, AS Roma, Fenerbahçe or Arsenal.

12/12/07

FC Porto put in an assured display against Besiktas at the Dragão Tuesday to win 2-0 on the night and finish top of Group A of the Champions League, qualifying for the last 16 and automatically avoiding some of the stronger European teams in what is now a knockout round.

It was overall a comfortable night for Porto. They had most of the play and most of the chances, kept out by the excellent Rustu ... until the Turkish international had a brainstorm on 44 minutes. A mis-hit shot from Raul Meireles ballooned towards goal, Sektioui looked momentarily to be offside and Rustu stopped dead to appeal. The Morroccan striker wasn't, in fact; he was put on side by a defender, and his touch was rammed in by Lucho González.It was a killer blow for Besiktas, who needed a win to hope for qualification, coming as it did just before the break.

The Turkish side mounted good pressure on the Porto goal after the break, but the Portuguese champions withstood it relatively comfortably, and on the hour, Ricardo Quaresma was put through on goal by an excellent pass from Lucho, and the 'Harry Potter' of the Dragão made no mistake faced with the oncoming Rustu. And even with half an hour still to play, it was clear that Besiktas did not have the wherewithal to get back in the game.

The teams lined up:

FC Porto: Helton, Bosingwa, Bruno Alves, Pedro Emanuel, Fucile (Cech 74), Lucho (Bolatti 80), Paulo Assunção, Raul Meireles, Tarik Sektioui (Hélder Postiga 73), Lisandro, Quaresma.

Besiktas: Rustu, Tandogan, Toraman, Mercimek, Uzulmez, Ozkan, Cissé, Yilmaz (Akin 46), Tello (Higuain 83), Delgado Bobo.

In the other Group A game, Liverpool thrashed Marseilles 4-0 in France and go through with Porto as second team in the group. Marseilles have the consolation of a place in the UEFA Cup, at the expense of Besiktas, who finished bottom.

1. FC PORTO, 11 points
2. Liverpool, 10
3. Marselha, 7
4. Besiktas, 6

05/12/07

Benfica qualified for the UEFA Cup Tuesday by beating Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 in chilly Ukraine and finishing third in Group D. The result left Shakhtar out in the cold, with Celtic qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League along with AC Milan, who beat the Scottish champions 1-0 in Italy.

Benfica put in a spirited display that proved too much for the technically superior Donetsk, rocked by two excellent goals from Paraguayan striker Óscar Cardozo within the first 20 minutes. Lucarelli invented a penalty on the half hour that the referee fell for, and the Italian netted from the spot, but as the game wore on, Shakhtar were unable to exploit some scandalous ball-losing from Benfica and faded badly. Benfica did what they set out to do on the night, and that was to stay in Europe.

The teams lined up:

Shakhtar: Pyatov, Srna, Chygrynskiy, Kucher, Rat, Lewandowski (Hubschman 57), Ilsinho (Willian 67), Jadson, Fernandinho, Lucarelli (Gladkiy 74), Brandão

Benfica: Quim, Nélson, Luisão, David Luiz, Léo, Katsouranis, Petit, Maxi Pereira (Luís Filipe 83), Rui Costa, Di María (Nuno Assis 67), Cardozo (Nuno Gomes 90)

30/11/07

Sporting Braga might well have beaten Bayern Munich in their UEFA cup Group F game Thursday, but poor finishing and a goal from Linz wrongly disallowed meant that they could only get a draw, their second in the group.

Bayern opened the scoring two minutes into the second half and against the run of play, Luca Toni crossing low from the left for Klose to stroll in unmarked and tap in from close range. Braga were not shaken and replied on 66 minutes, Linz taking a Wender through pass, shrugging of the challenge of two defenders and placing the ball beyond Khan.

The teams lined up:

Sporting Braga: Paulo Santos, João Pereira, Paulo Jorge, Rodriguez, Frechaut, Stélvio Cruz (Jailson 57), Roberto Brum, Jorginho, Vandinho (João Pinto 51), Wender (Andrés Madrid 69), Linz.

Bayern Munich: Khan, Lell, Lúcio, Demichelis, Lahm, Altintop (Sosa 80), Van Bommel, Zé Roberto, Ribery (Sagnol 89), Luca Toni, Klose.

In the other game in Group F, Bolton drew 1-1 at home to Aris Salonika. The table looks like this:

1. Bayern, 3 games, 5 points
2. Aris, 2/4
3. Bolton, 3/3
4. Sporting Braga, 2/2
5. Red Star, 2/0

29/11/07

A disastrous second half from FC Porto saw them crash at Anfield against what was actually a rather ordinary Liverpool in the penultimate game of the Champions League Group A. Porto gave a good account of themselves in the first 45 minutes, Lisandro López equalising on 33 minutes with a superb header from a Kazmierczak cross; an unmarked Fernando Torres had put Liverpool in front on 18 minutes from a Gerrard corner.

After the break, it was all misplaced passes and atrocious defending from Porto, with centre back Stepanov one of the main culprits. Fernando Torres broke through on 78 minutes to place the ball past Hélton, Stepanov handled for Gerrard to score from the spot on 83 and Peter Crouch headed in a Gerrard corner from point blank range on 87. A score of 4-1 was a bit of an exagerration given Liverpool's otherwise pale performance, but Porto only have themselves to blame.

The teams lined up:

Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Arbeloa, Benayoun (Peter Crouch 71), Gerrard, Mascherano, Babel (Kuyt 84), Torres, Voronin (Kewell 63).

FC Porto: Helton, Bosingwa, Bruno Alves, Stepanov, Marek Cech, Paulo Assunção (Hélder Postiga 80), Lucho Gonzalez, Kazmierczak (Raul Meireles 65), Mariano Gonzalez (Tarik Sektioui 77), Lisandro Lopez, Ricardo Quaresma.

Standings:

1 FC Porto, 8 points
2 Marseilles, 7
3 Liverpool, 7
4 Besiktas, 6

Porto just need a point from their last game at home to Besiktas on December 11 to qualify for the last 16. Besiktas beat Mareilles 2-1 in Turkey.

Benfica are out of contention in the Champions League after drawing 1-1 at home to AC Milan in Group D while Celtic were beating Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 in Glasgow. Benfica now need to win in Ukraine in two weeks' time to qualify for the UEFA Cup.

Pirlo put Milan in front on 14 minutes with a great strike from way out, but Uruguayan utility player Maxi López gave Benfica a share of the spoils five minutes later.

The teams lined up:

Benfica: Quim, Luizão, David Luiz (Freddy Adu, 87 min.), Luís Filipe (Dí Maria, 74 min.), Léo, Petit e Katsouranis, Maxi Pereira, Cristian Rodriguez, Rui Costa e Nuno Gomes (Cardozo, 74 min.).

AC Milan: Dida, Nesta, Kaladze, Bonera, Serginho (Maldini, 45 min.), Pirlo, Gattuso, Brocchi (Gourcuff, 50 min.), Seedorf (72 min.), Oddo, Kaká e Gilardino.

Standings:

1 AC Milan, 10 points (qualified)
2 Celtic, 9
3 Shakhter Donetsk, 6
4 Benfica, 4

28/11/07

Sporting put in an excellent first half performance to shake Manchester United at Old Trafford in Group F of the Champions League and go in at the break 1-0 up, a swinging Abel drive from out wide on the right beating Kuszczak at his near post. (Abel later admitted it was a cross rather than a shot).

Manchester United, apparently woken from their rather arrogant slumber by what must have been a good old ear-tugging by Alex Ferguson in the changing room, came out in the second half a much more vital force, and as Sporting faded, so United grew, ex-Sporting star Cristiano Ronaldo leading the charge. Tevez equalised on the hour (although it looked like it might have been Tonel who scored in his own goal), and it was Cristiano Ronaldo with a free-kick in added time that deprived Sporting of a share of the 600,000 euros on offer. But by that time, they already knew that whatever the score in Manchester, they would have been relegated to the UEFA Cup in third place in the group, Manchester United and Roma qualifying for the last 16.

The teams lined up:

Manchester United: Kuszczak, O'Shea, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Fletcher (Tevez 46), Carrick, Anderson, Cristiano Ronaldo, Saha (Hargreaves 79), Nani (Giggs 46).

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Tonel, Polga, Had, João Moutinho, Miguel Veloso, Romagnoli (Vukcevic 67), Izmailov (Pereirinha 81), Purovic (Farnerud 81), Liedson.

In the other game in the group, Roma beat Dynamo Kiev 4-1.

Group table:

1 Manchester United, played 5/15 points
2 AS Roma, 5/10
3 Sporting, 5/4
4 Dynamo Kiev, 5/0

08/11/07

Sporting put in a dogged performance at home to AS Roma Wednesday in Group F of the Champions League, but a stroke of bad luck near the end denied them a win and made it very difficult for them to qualify for the last 16.

Roma it was who went in front, Cassetti netting after just four minutes. O Levezinho ('The Light One') Liedson once again came to Sporting's rescue, tapping in on 22 minutes and diving to head in an Izmailov cross-cum-shot on 64. But then a minute from time, Perrota sent a speculative shot goalwardds from a free-kick, the ball was deflected slightly by Moutinho, Anderson Polga misjudged his header and sent a wild deflection past a rooted Tiago in the Sporting goal.

The teams lined up:

Sporting: Tiago, Abel, Tonel, Polga, Ronny; Miguel Veloso, Izmailov (Pereirinha 88), Romagnoli, João Moutinho, Djaló (Vukcevic 62), Liedson

AS Roma: Doni,. Cicinho, Mexes (Ferrari 46), Juan, Cassetti, De Rossi, Perrota, Giuly (Brighi 89), Perrota (Esposito 79), Mancini, Vucinic.

The result gives Sporting four points, but Roma have seven and
Manchester United 12. United beat Dynamo Kiev 4-0 in the other game in the group, leaving Dynamo bottom with no points. Sporting's next game is the difficult trip to Old Trafford, although one consolation is that United may relax a little as they are already qualified.

07/11/07

FC Porto have one foot in the last 16 of the Champions League after beating and overtaking Marseilles in Group A Tuesday. Porto had a poor first half but went in 1-0 up, Sektioui scoring a brilliant solo goal on 27 minutes. Just after the break, Niang equalised for Marseilles before Lisandro López, scoring his first goal in the Champions League this season, headed home on 78 minutes to give Porto what was in the end a deserved win.

The teams lined up:

FC Porto: Helton, Bosingwa; Stepanov, Bruno Alves, Fucile, Raul Meireles (Bolatti 68), Paulo Assunção, Cech (Postiga 58), Sektioui (Mariano González 87), Lisandro, Quaresma

Marseilles: Mandanda, Bonnart, Rodriguez, Givet, Taiwo, Valbuena, Cana, M´Bami (Cheyrou 84); Nasri; Niang (Cissé 62), Ayew (Arrache 77)

In the other Group A game, Liverpool smashed Besiktas 8-0, the highest score in the short history of the Champions League. Porto are on eight points, Marseilles on seven, Liverpool on four and Besiktas on three.

Benfica saw theuir hopes of qualifying from the Group D dwindle after they went down 1-0 at Celtic, the Scots getting revenge for the same result two weeks ago. In an even game, it was Celtic who had the luck, a shot from McGeady deflecting off Luisão and fooling Quim just before the break. Benfica midfielder.Binya deserved two red cards for an awful studs-up challenge on Brown five minuites from time; he got just the one.

The teams lined up:

Celtic: Boruc, Naylor, Caldwell, Brown (Sno 88), Vennegoor (Donati 67), Hartley, Jarosik (Killen 67), McDonald, Kennedy, McManus, McGeady.

Benfica: Quim, Luís Filipe, Edcarlos, Luisão, Leó, Binya, Katsouranis, Maxi Pereira (Di Maria 60) Rodríguez, Rui Costa (Bergessio 76) , Cardozo (Nuno Gomes 76).

In the other group D game, AC Milan travelled to Ukraine to meet and beat Shakhtar Donetsk 3-0. The Italians lead the group on nine points, while Shalhtar and Celtic are second on six. Benfica foot the table on three.

06/11/07

Brazilian left back Léo, a key player in Benfica's structure, is in doubt for Tuesday's Champions League match at Celtic after injuring a thigh against Paços de Ferreira at the weekend. Nuno Gomes, just back from injury, says he is ready to start after playing half an hour in the same game. Benfica coach José António Camacho said of the decisive match: "It will be a game for men."

FC Porto will be without influential Argentinian midfielder and captain Lucho González for the vist of Marseilles, but right back Bosingwa returns. Coach Jesualdo Ferreira said: "It's important to win, but not decisive."

02/10/07

UEFA carried out a surprise ant-doping test on ten FC Porto players during training on Thursday. The players were: Bosingwa, Bruno Alves, Helton, Paulo Assunção, Bolatti, Leandro Lima, Lucho González, Stepanov, Tarik and Pedro Emanuel

26/10/07

Sporting Braga drew 1-1 at Bolton Thursday in the first game in Group F of the UEFA Cup. Diouf headed Bolton in front from a Davies cross on 66 minutes. Five minutes later, Braga had a penalty appeal turned down for a clear foul by O'Brien on José Manuel. Five minutes from time, sub Jailson restored some justice, heading in a João Perreira cross.

The teams lined up:

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Hunt, Meité, A. Obrien, Cid, Speed, Garder (Andranik 82), McCann, Guthrie (Diouf 61), Anelka, Davies.

Sporting Braga: Paulo Santos, João Pereira, Paulo Jorge, Rodriguez, César Peixoto, Vandinho, Andrés Madrid (Jailson 76), Castanheira (Stélvio Cruz 67), Wender (José Manuel 67), Jorginho, Linz.

In the other game in Group F,
Bayern Munich won 3-2 at Red Star and moved to the top of the group..

Braga rest on 8 November and receive
Bayern Munich on the 29th.

25/10/07

FC Porto put in a good display in Marseilles Wednesday in Group A of the Champions League but came back with just the single point from a 1-1 draw. Porto were guilty of some profligacy, and Mareilles 'keeper Mandanda was in good form, twice deflecting Raul Meireles shots against the post in the first 20 minutes. The Dragons had chances to score in the second half, too, but it was Mareilles who went in front on the 69th minute, Niang finishing off a Cissé cross. Ten minutes later, Porto were justifiably level, Argentian captain Lucho González converting from the spot after his compatriot Lisandro López had been fouled. But a point was a false reflection on what happened on the pitch.

The teams lined up:

Marseilles: Mandanda, Bonnart, Zubar, Faty, Givet, Cana, Cheyrou, Niang, Valbuena, Zenden (Arrache 55), Cissé.

FC Porto: Helton, Bosingwa, Stepanov, Bruno Alves, Fucile, Lucho, Paulo Assunção, Raul Meireles (Leandro Lima 71), Mariano Gonzalez (Hélder Postiga 46), Lisandro, Quaresma.

In the other Group A game, Liverpool were suprisingly beaten 2-1 at Turkish side Besiktas, leaving Mareilles top with seven points, Porto on six, Besiktas on three and Liverpool bottom with three.

In Group D, Benfica struggled in a scrappy first half against hyper-defensive Celtic at a half-full Luz. Boruc was Celtic's best player, denying Katsouranis with a terrific save from a corner. Benfica came out much sharper in the second half, and with the entry of di Maria on the hour, their game became much more rapid. Cardozo hit the woodwork twice before finally breaking the hearts of Celtic's massive and exemplary following five minutes from time, controlling a neat through ball from di Maria and prodding it past the excellent Boruc. It was too late for Celtic to mount a response, and Benfica had their first three points in the bag.

The teams lined up:

Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, Katsouranis, Léo, Nuno Assis (Di Maria 61), Bynia, Rui Costa, Cristian Rodriguez (Luís Filipe 83), Cardozo, Bergessio (Freddy Adu 61).

Celtic: Boruc, Caldwell, Kennedy, McManus, Naylor, Donaty (Sno 62), Hartley, McGeady, Brown, Jarosik, Killen (Mc Donald 74).

In the other Group D game, AC Milan thrashed Shakhtar 4-1 at home and share top spot with the Ukrainian side on six points. Benfica climb above Celtic, both on three.

24/10/07

Sporting missed a good opportunity to get at least a draw at Roma Tuesday in Group F of the Champions League. They were good going forward (although they created few clear-cut chances) but were a shambles in defence, where the absence was deeply felt of the injured central defender Polga, implying the inclusion of influential midfielder Miguel Veloso in the back four, and goalkeeper Stojkovic, left in Lisbon. It was bad marking that let Roma defender Juan rise to meet a corner and head past Tiago, out of position, on 15 minutes. Sporting equalised three minutes later, a good combination by lively Romagnoli and Abel taking the latter to the line and crossing for Liedson to head firmly home, his first goal in the Champions League.

The second half started with a (dubious) penalty awarded to Roma which Tiago turned onto the left hand post from Mancini. It seemed that it might be a boost for Sporting's morale, and indeed, they were giving as good as they got from an ordinary Roma. But then twenty minutes from time, Roma took the ball down the left on the break and Vucinic beat weak challenges from Abel and Tonel to fire past Tiago from an acute angle. Despite substitutions to correct the flow, Sporting collapsed thereafter and Roma were comfortable winners by the end.

The teams lined up:

AS Roma: Doni, Panucci, Mexes, Juan, Tonetto, De Rossi, Pizarro, Cassetti, Giuly, Mancini (Cicinho 86), Totti (Vucinic 35).

Sporting: Tiago; Abel, Tonel, Miguel Veloso, Ronny (Purovic 76), João Moutinho; Izmailov (Celsinho 81), Romagnoli, Vukcevic (Paredes 71); Liedson, Djaló.

23/10/07

Sporting cancelled their training session in the Olympic Stadium, Rome, Monday evening after being delayed three hours because of a strike at Rome airport, and then having to wait two and a half hours for their luggage. The Lions play AS Roma in Group F of the Champions League on Tuesday.

Celtic have arrived in Lisbon ahead of Wednesday's Group D game against Benfica, who need to start winning if they are to catch the train.

10/10/07

Sporting Braga will have to get past Bayern Munich, Red Star, Bolton and Aris Salonika in the groups tage of the UEFA Cup - a tough prospect.

The schedule

25 October:
Red Star (Serbia) - Bayern (Germany)
Bolton (England) – Braga
Rest: Aris Salónika (Greece)

8 November
Bayern - Bolton
Aris Salónika - Red Star
Rest: Braga

29 November
Braga - Bayern
Bolton - Aris Salónika
Rest: Red Star

6 December
Aris Salónika - Braga
Red Star - Bolton
Rest: Bayern

19 December
Braga - Red Star
Bayern - Aris Salónika
Rest: Bolton

05/10/07

It was mixed fortunes for the Portuguese clubs in the UEFA Cup Thursday, but all performed with dignity.

The only team through to the group stage is Sporting Braga. Having lost 1-2 to Swedish side Hammarby in the first leg, they were committed to pulling out something special in the second: a 4-0 result was it. All the goals came in the second half, the first from Wender a minute in, followed by strikes from Jorginho, Linz (penalty) and Hussaine on the stroke of time.

The teams lined up

Sporting Braga: Dani Mallo, João Pereira, Paulo Jorge, Frechaut, César Peixoto, Vandinho, Andrés Madrid, Jorginho (Jailson 75), José Manuel (Hussaine 64), Linz, Wender (Castanheira 85).

Hammarby: Moussan, Saarenpaa (Gunnarsson 87), Sleyman, Traoré, Johansson, Zengin (Castro Tello 74), Chanko, Laitinen, Paulinho Guará (Charles Davis 79), Andersson, Eguren.

Belenenses had perhaps the most difficult task of the night, to try and turn over a 0-1 deficit from the first leg against the mighty Bayern Munich. They did not manage it, but went out with heads held high. The tie was virtually decided on the hour through Luca Toni, with Altintop making sure on 77.

The teams lined up:

Belenenses: Costinha, Cândido Costa (Amaral 14), Rolando, Devic (Mendonça 72), Hugo Alcântara, Rodrigo Alvim, Ruben Amorim, Silas, José Pedro, Weldon, (João Paulo 78), Roncatto.

Bayern: Rensing, Lell, Lúcio, Demichelis, Jansen, Van Bommel, Zé Roberto (Ottl 72), Altintop, Schweinsteiger (Toni Kroos 81), Ribery (Schalaudraff 68), Luca Toni.

Paços de Ferreira secured a commendable 0-0 draw at AZ Alkmaar, but went out to the last minute goal AZ had scored in the first game in Portugal.

The teams lined up:

AZ Alkmaar: Boy Waterman, Steinsson, Jaliens, Donk, Opdam, Jenner, Agustien, De Zeeuw, Martens (Mendes da Silva 77), Ari, Dembelé (Cziommer 52).

Paços de Ferreira: Peçanha, Ferreira, Luiz Carlos, Tiago Valente, Mangualde, Filipe Anunciação, Dedé, Fernando Pilar (Edson Di 81), Ricardinho, Renato Queirós (Furtado 70), Edson (Márcio Carioca 81).

União de Leiria got an excellent 3-2 win at home to Bayer Leverkusen, but needed at least a 3-1 win after the first leg in Germany had finished 3-1 to Leverkusen. Cadu put Leiria in front on just three minutes, Papadoupolos equalised on ten and João Paulo restored the lead two minutes later. Towards the end, União were still hopeful of the goal that would have levelled the tie, but Kiessling got the killer three minutes from time. In added time, Laranjeiro gave União a deserved win on the night, but it wasn't enough, and they are out of the UEFA Cup.

The teams lined up:

União de Leiria: Fernando, Laranjeiro, Hugo Costa, Éder Gaúcho, Alhandra (Marco Soares 53), Tiago, Toñito (Zongo 73), Cadu; Maciel (N´Gal 61), João Paulo, Sougou.

Bayer Leverkusen: Adler, Castro, Haggui, Friedrich, Sarpei, Vidal (Sinkiewicz 90), Rolfes, Kiessling, Papadoupolos (Schwegler 46), Barnetta (Dum 90), Barbarez.

04/10/07

FC Porto snatched a valuable win at Besiktas in Group A of the Champions League Wednesday, Ricardo Quaresma poking in from close range in added time after good work from Leandro Lima and Lucho González. Besiktas, urged on by their fanatical fans, had had the better of the first half, Porto inverting the trend in the second.

The teams lined up:

Besiktas: Hakan, Kurtulus (Tandogan 71), Toraman, Zan, Uzulmez, Uzkan, Cissé, Delgado, Tello, Akin (Higuain 67), Bobo (Márcio Nobre 28).

FC Porto: Helton, Bosingwa, Stepanov, Bruno Alves, Fucile, Lucho Gongalez, Paulo Assunção, Raul Meireles (Leandro Lima 88), Tarik Sektioui (Marek Cech 65), Lisandro López (Adriano 75), Ricardo Quaresma.

Porto are second in the group behind Marseilles, who also, surprisingly, won 1-0 at Liverpool.

Benfica's game finished 1-0, too. Unfortunately, it was to visitors Shakhtar Donetsk. The Ukrainian side have built up a body of experience of Europe in the last few years and it showed, with some quality, controlled football throughout, especially on the counter attack, from which their goal came on 42 minutes. Brazilian Fernandinho sliced through Benfica's right side with Nélson out of position and cut the ball back for compatriot Jadson to side-foot into the roof of the net from ten metres. Benfica had their chances, notably through Di Maria, who hit the bar in the first half after a mazy run, and Cardozo, who missed a handful of half-chances. The ball would not go in and Benfica were left with no points to show from their first two games. Shakhtar are shock leaders of Group D, followed by Celtic, who beat Milan in Glasgow. Benfica trooped off the pitch amid whistles from the crowd.

The teams lined up:

Benfica: Quim, Nélson (Nuno Gomes 44), Luisão, Edcarlos, Léo, Maxi Pereira, Katsouranis, Di Maria (Binya 60), Rui Costa, Cristian Rodriguez, Cardozo.

Shakthar Donetsk: Pyatov, Srna, Chygrynskiy, Kuscher, Rat, Ilsinho (Duljaj 79), Lewandowski (Hubschman 85), Jadson (Castillo 76), Fernandinho, Lucarelli, Brandão.

03/10/07

Sporting notched up their first away win ever in the Champions league and coach Paulo Bento's first win Tuesday, winning 2-1 at Dynamo Kiev. Both Sporting's goals were scored by heir central defenders, first Tonel on 13 minutes after a corner by Ronny, then Anderson Polga on 37 finishing off a cross from the left, again from Ronny. In between, Vashchuk equalised for Dynamo. The result keeps Sporting, second now with Roma, within sight of Manchester United, who top Group F after beating Roma 1-0 at Old Trafford.

The teams lined up

Dynamo Kiev: Shovkovskyi, Vaschuk, Ghione, Mikhalik, Gavrancic, El Kaddouri, Yussuf, Rincón, Correa, Mievskiy (Kleber 57), Shatskikh.


Sporting: Stojkovic, Abel, Tonel, Polga, Ronny, Miguel Veloso, João Moutinho, Romagnoli (Paredes 76), Vukcevic (Izmailov 67), Djaló (Gladstone 91), Liedson.

31/08/07

In the draw for the first round of the UEFA Cup, made Friday, the Portuguese clubs were landed with some stiff opposition. União de Leiria, who qualified Thursday (see below), take on Bayer Leverkusen (away/home), Paços de Feiria got AZ Alkmaar (h/a), Sporting Braga got on paper possibly the easiest opponents, Swedish side Hammarby (a/h), and Belenenses will have the toughest job, against German giants Bayern Munich (a/h).

The games will be played on 20 September and 04 October. Paços de Ferreira will play their home leg against AZ Alkmaar in Boavista's Bessa Stadium.

União de Leiria became the seventh Portuguese club to qualify for the European competitions proper Thursday when they beat Maccabi Netanya of Israel 1-0, after the first leg had been drawn 0-0 in Portugal. It seemed as though the game was drifting towards extra-time when Senegalese forward N'Gal popped up to score the all-important goal five minutes from time, leaving the Israeli side needing to score two goals to win – a task palpably beyond them.

The teams lined up:

Maccabi Netanya: Strauber, Saban, Luís Marim, Avi Strool, Ben Dayan, Almog Gohen (Yampulski, 69), Amir Taga, Tamir Cohen, Etey Shechter, Marius Bundea (Rozental, 80) e Awudu Okocha

União de Leiria: Fernando, Éder, Renato (Alhandra, 51), Hugo Costa (Bruno Miguel, 46), Laranjeiro, Tiago, Faria, Cadú, João Paulo, Sougou (Ngal, 61) e Paulo César

União de Leiria join an impressive array of Portuguese teams in the European competitions: FC Porto, Sporting and Benfica in the Champions League; Sporting Braga, Belenenses and Paços de Ferreira in the UEFA Cup.

At the draw for the Group Stage of the Champions League, made in Monaco on Thursday, the Big Three of Portugal found out who the competition will be, and it seems that Sporting have drawn the (relatively) short straw:

FC Porto are in the same group as last year's beaten finalists Liverpool, who they play first at home, Marseilles and Besiktas,

Fixtures for Group A:

1- 18 September
FC Porto - Liverpool

2 - 3 October
Besiktas - FC Porto


3 - 24 October
Marselha - FC Porto

4 - 6 November
FC Porto - Marselha

5 - 28 November
Liverpool- FC Porto

6 - 4 December
FC Porto - Besiktas

Benfica play AC Milan (a reunion with old team mates for Rui Costa), Celtic (déjà vu from last year's competition) and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Fixtures for Group D:

1- 18 September
AC Milan – Benfica

2 - 3 October
Benfica - Shakhtar Donetsk

3 - 24 October
Benfica - Celtic

4 - 6 November
Celtic - Benfica

5 - 28 November
Benfica - AC Milan

6 - 4 December
Shakhtar Donetsk - Benfica

Sporting have to contend with English champions Manchester United (a reunion with former Leões Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani), AS Roma and Dynamo Kiev.

Fixtures for Group F:

1 - 19 September
Sporting - Man. United

2 - 04 October
Dynamo Kiev - Sporting

3 - 23 October
AS Roma - Sporting

4 - 7 November
Sporting - AS Roma

5 - 27 November
Man. United - Sporting

6 - 12 December
Sporting - Dynamo Kiev

30/08/07

Benfica have qualified for the group stage of the Champions League. Taking a 2-1 lead from the first leg at the Luz, Benfica were under the cosh for a full quarter of an hour against FC Copenhagen in front of 40,000 at the Parken Stadium. The Danish side had several clear chances to score, but luck appeared to be on Benfica's side, with first Léo and then Cardozo clearing off the line from efforts by Hangeland and Gravgaard, respectively. Then in the 17th minute, Benfica had a free-kick about 25 metres out. Petit, who has a terrific shot, shaped to go for goal but instead Rui Costa chipped it to the edge of the box, Cardozo headed on, Nuno Gomes headed down and Katsouranis swept it in from five metres. It was a neat goal that looked like it had been practised, and it was priceless in the context of the tie; it meant that Copenhagen needed at least two goals to be safe, but the Benfica goal saw their resolve almost visibly crumbling, and as the game wore on, so their faith seemed to recede ... which is not to say that they didn't have more chances. They had a possible penalty claim turned down on 25 minutes for a foul on Allbäck by young Miguel Vítor, Jansen hit the post on the half hour and Allbäck put a free header wide five minutes from half-time.

Benfica had their backs against the wall in the second half, but they defended resolutely, at times desperately, and managed to keep Copenhagen out. It was not a pretty nor an inspired performance, but new coach José António Camacho can take heart from the battling spirit shown ("The attitude and work-rate were magnificent", he said), as well as from the performances of Miguel Vítor, playing in only his second official game, and Argentinian forward di Maria, making his début.

The teams lined up:

FC Copenhagen: Christiansen, Kvist, Gravgaard, Hangeland, Jensen, Wurtz (Sionko 58), Noregaard, Silberbauer, Hutchinson, Nordstrand (Ailton Almeida 74), Allbäck.

Benfica: Quim, Nélson (Nuno Assis 46), Miguel Vítor, Katsouranis, Léo, Petit, Luís Filipe, Rui Costa, Di María (Romeu Ribeiro 73), Nuno Gomes (Bergessio 90), Cardozo.

Benfica, who have now qualified for the competition proper for the third year in a row, something they hadn't done for 30 years, join FC Porto and Sporting in the Group stage. The draw will take place on Thursday in Mónaco.

The teams through are:

F.C. Porto (PORTUGAL)
Sporting (PORTUGAL)
Benfica (PORTUGAL)

Milan (Italy)
Inter (Italy)
Lazio (Italy)
Roma (Italy)
Chelsea (England)
Manchester United (England)
Liverpool (England)
Arsenal (England)
Lyon (France)
Marselha (France)
Stuttgart (Germany)
Schalke 04 (Germany)
Werder Bremen (Germany)
Real Madrid (Spain)
Barcelona (Spain)
Valência (Spain)
PSV Eindhoven (Holland)
Olympiakos (Greece)
Glasgow Rangers (Scotland)
Celtic (Scotland)
CSKA Moscow (Russia)
Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine)
Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine)
Besiktas (Turkey)
Fenerbahçe (Turkey)
Steaua Bucharest (Romania)
Slavia Prague (Czech Republic)
Rosenborg (Norway)

UEFA have given Belenenses permission to play their UEFA Cup game(s) in their Restelo Stadium. It had failed on a previous inspection but passed after work was done on it.

17/08/07

União de Leiria could only draw 0-0 at home to Israeli club Maccabi Netanya Thursday in the first leg of the second qualifying round of the UEFA Cup. União had many chances to score but did not take them, and on the hour, a free kick from Laranjeiro appeared to be over the line before being clawed out by the 'keeper. Coach Paulo Duarte was sent off in the closing stages for over-exuberance.

União lined up:

Fernando, Éder, Renato, Éder Gaúcho, Laranjeiro, Faria, Marco Soares, Toñito (Cadu 69), Sougou, Paulo César, Alhandra (N´Gal 57).

15/08/07

Rui Costa saved Benfica from a major embarrassment Tuesday, scoring both goals to beat a well-organised FC Copenhagen 2-1 in the first leg of the third qualifying round of the Champions League. Benfica looked like a team just getting their season under way, with a lack of mutual understanding throughout their lines, whereas Copenhagen, with seven proper games already under their belts, were a model of organisation and cohesion. Luckily for Benfica, there was Rui Costa, called "too old" (and worse) by millionaire businessman José Berardo, who would like to take over the club. On 25 minutes, Copenhagen committed a rare mistake in midfield, lost the ball, it fell to "the old Man", and he strode forward and struck a low drive just beyond Christiansen's right hand from 25 metres.

But Benfica were just not with it, and well before half-time, the first impatient whistling of the season was heard from the 55,000 at the Luz. Copenhagen's strategy of containment and counter attack appeared to be working when Luisão, who went off injured shortly afterwards, cleared weakly for Hutchinson to stroke the ball home first time from ten metres. Benfica were faced with the prospect of travelling to Denmark effectively behind for the second leg, but then five minutes from time, up stepped their number 10 who, in another moment of inspiration, let fly with a low drive that was even better than the first, crashing in at the left-hand post. Benfica have the advantage, but they will have to raise their game considerably in the second leg to get past this astute FC Copenhagen side.

The teams lined up:

Benfica: Quim, Luís Filipe, Luisão (Freddy Adu 38), David Luiz, Léo, Petit, Katsouranis, Nuno Assis (Nuno Gomes 74), Rui Costa, Bergessio (Fábio Coentrão 46), Cardozo.

FC Copenhagen: Christiansen, Kvist, Gravgaard, Hangeland, Jensen, Noregaard (Sionko 88), Wurtz, Silberbauer, Hutchinson, Gronkjaer, Allback (Nordstrand 78).

The game also marked the début of North American Freddy Adu, who was warmly received by the fans but showed himself to be rather naïve as yet.

09/08/07

Benfica will meet FC Copenhagen in the third qualifying round of the Champions League after the Danish side beat Beitar in extra time Tuesday. The first leg will be played at the Luz on 14 August, the second in Copenhagen on 29 August.

07/08/07

Benfica will play the third qualifying round of the Champions League on 14 (home) and 29 August (away) against either FC Copenhagen or Beitar of Jerusalem (tie to be decided on 07 August). Paraguayan striker Óscar Cardozo seems set to miss the first leg with a thigh injury.

30/07/07

União de Leiria qualified for the second preliminary round of the UEFA Cup Sunday, beating Serbian side Hajduk Kula 4-1 in the Intertoto Cup. The first leg had finished 1-0, and it wasn't until the 90th minute that União managed to level the tie through Éder Gaúcho. Laranjeiro from the spot gave União the advantage in the first half of extra time, while Bogic pulled one back for Hajduk with a penalty. But then Sougou and Laranjeiro , once again from the spot, confirmed the win for União.

24/07/07

União de Leiria lost 1-0 in Belgrade against Hajduk Kula in the first leg of their third round Intertoto tie, Peric scoring just before the break. It makes life difficult for União in the second leg on Saturday.

16/07/07

União de Leiria will meet Serbian side Hajduk Kula in the Intertoto Cup on 21 and 29 July.

02/06/07

Belenenses and Paços de Ferreira will have to play their UEFA Cup games in borrowed stadiums next season, Sporting's Alvalade and Boavista's Bessa, respectively. Belenenses are angry because the Lisbon City Council has taken a year to issue a licence for the stadium, without which the Estádio do Restelo is unusable in Europe.

 

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