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european competitions - 2008/09

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16/04/09

FC Porto could not reproduce last weeks' dazzling Old Trafford display and fell out of the Champions League on Wednesday, going down 0-1 at home to Manchester United (2-3 on aggregate). Porto's coach Jesualdo Ferreira could not be on the bench; he was suspended because of an offensive gesture he made in the earlier Atlético Madrid tie. The English side were stronger compared to a week ago, with the inclusion of Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, Anderson and Berbatov making a big difference, and Porto started off a little jittery, letting United take the reins for the first quarter of an hour or so. It was during this period that Manchester United got the all-important goal, Cristiano Ronaldo given time and space in midfield to let fly with a drive from 35 metres that whizzed past Hélton's right hand.

The Porto captain Lucho González injured himself on 28 minutes, and the absence of El Comandante was crucial to Porto's lack of coherence for the rest of the game, although they did have a lot of spirit and chances, notably through Rolando, Meireles, Farías and Lisandro. But on the night, United were stronger psychologically and as a team, and by the end, Porto's play had a whiff of the desperate about it. Manchester United go on to meet Arsenal in the semi-finals.

The teams lined up:

FC Porto: Helton, Sapunaru (Tomás Costa 80), Rolando, Bruno Alves, Cissokho, Fernando, Raul Meireles, Lucho Gonzalez (Mariano Gonzalez 31), Hulk, Lisandro Lopez, Cristian Rodriguez (Ernesto Farias 64).

Manchester United: Edwin Van der Sar, John O'Shea, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick, Anderson (Paul Scholes 78), Cristiano Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs, Dimitar Berbatov (Nani 68), Wayne Rooney

08/04/09

An excellent all-round performance by FC Porto saw them come away from Old Trafford with a promising 2-2 draw in their Champions League quarter-final first leg on Tuesday. Porto were at Manchester United's throats from the word 'go', putting pressure on the home goal through a Lisandro shot and then scoring in the fourth minute: Cristiano Ronaldo lost the ball on the left of midfield, Lucho sent a speculative cross in from deep, Evans fluffed his clearance and Cristian Rodriguez jinked inside the defender to curl a shot past Edwin Van der Sar from the edge of the box. Unfortunately for Porto, Bruno Alves was having one of his rare off-days, and with an incredible absence of attention, he passed back to Helton on 15 minutes only to find Rooney, who slipped the ball effortlessly past the 'keeper.

Porto, with among others pivot Fernando, left back Sissokho and Helton in superb form, should have been leading by the break but were level. And then the unwanted happened: five minutes from time, a Gary Neville throw-in form the right was flicked nonchalantly on by rooney for Tevez to crash the ball into the roof of the net at the near post. It seemed as though Porto's quality display would come to nothing, but then shortly before time, Lisandro took the ball down the right and crossed deep for Mariano to control it at the back post and nudge it over the oncoming Van der Sar to give Porto a significant 2-2 draw.

The return in Porto in a week's time is set to be a very intense affair.

The teams lined up:

Manchester United: Edwin Van der Sar, John O'Shea, Johnny Evans (Gary Neville 72), Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher, Paul Scholes (Carlos Tevez 72), Ji-Sung Park (Ryan Giggs 59), Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney.

FC Porto: Helton, Sapunaru, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Cissokho, Fernando, Raul Meireles (Tomas Costa 79, Andres Madrid 84), Lucho Gonzalez, Lisandro Lopez, Cristian Rodriguez (Mariano Gonzalez 80), Hulk.

If Porto get through to the semi-finals, they will play either Villareal or Arsenal; their first leg finished 1-1 in Spain.

07/04/09

FC Porto are in England ahead of their Champions League quarter-final first leg against Manchester United on Tuesday. The mood is one of quiet optimism.

Coach Jesualdo Ferreira:

"It isn't points that are at stake but goal difference. We know that we have a great opportunity for the players to to be able to take a big step forward in thir careers. Tomorrow is an important game, but it isn't decisive. It's a game that we want to enjoy. A good result is to win and score goals. We want to get to the end of the game in the lead or at least having scored goals."

"We want to play well and show what we're worth. We want to have a say in the game and in the result. It's possible to come out winners. We're up against the European and World Champions, but we have ambition and arguments to show on the pitch. We have our method, and that's what guides us. Our only concern is to be able to respond to Manchester United's quality with what we're capable of doing. The game is going to have a high level of intensity, and we'll try to be intense, always keeping an attacking spirit in mind. We want to defend well and then attack. We will only be able to invalidate Mancheter United's football by thinking that we have to defend well in order to attack. My view follows that basic rule. We have simple but effective processes. We're top of the league, we got through the group phase of the Champions League in first place and we're here to win. When we play away, we always have that ambition."

"I don't think we're being underestimated. Everyone will remember what we did five years ago. Face to face will be the two teams with the most participations in the Champions League, both with great CVs. Besides that, I'm certain that tomorrow we'll have the whole of Portugal on our side. Tomorrow I'd like to have that kind of luck [costinha's 90th-minute goal in 2004]. It seems like yesterday, but it's been five years since that historic moment."

Uruguayan winger Cristian Ródriguez:

"We've evolved a lot [since the 0-4 defeat at Arsenal in the group phase]. We've been working every day and have learned from our mistakes. We have to enter the game with calm and without pressure. Being in games like this is any player's dream. We're calm, and we want to see what it's going to be like tomorrow. What if we win? We'll also be calm because there'll still be the game at the Dragão."

21/03/09

FC Porto will play Manchester United, reigning Eurpean Champions, in the Champions League quarter-finals; the first leg will be in England on 7 April, the second at the Estádio do Dragão on the 15th. Should Porto get through to the semi-finals, they will face either Arsenal or Villareal on 28/29 April and 05/06 May. The Final is on 27 May in Rome.

The other quarter-finals are: Villareal v Arsenal, Liverpool v Chelsea, and Barcelona v Bayern Munich

20/03/09

Sporting Braga's dream of reaching the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup for the first time in their history ended on Thursday when they went down 0-1 at home to PSG in front of 16,000 at the Braga Municipal Stadium. Braga had more possession in this second leg of the last-16 tie and were in PSG's half for more of the time, but they could not convert this into the all-important goal(s) they needed after the first leg in Paris had finished 0-0.

Good chances went 2-1 to Braga in the first half: on 13 minutes, a Paulo César shot from outside the area was tipped over by Landreau; on 28, it was Chantôme's turn to hit the bar, this time from a free-kick with Eduardo rooted to the spot; and on 33, Luís Aguiar saw his free-kick take a flake of paint off the right-hand post. Braga were lacking incisiveness and PSG made them pay 20 minutes from time: Chantôme floated a free-kick from deep on the right to the back post, Eduardo misjudged the flight and Hoarau, on as sub just four minutes earlier, headed comfortably in. Braga needed two goals at this point, but the reverse had knocked the wind out of their sails and the game drifted inexorably towards Braga's elimination.

The teams lined up:

Sporting de Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Rodriguez, André Leone, Evaldo, Vandinho, César Peixoto (Orlando Sá 84), Luís Aguiar, Alan (Mossoró 72), Paulo César (Jorginho 88), Renteria.

Paris Saint-Germain: Landreau, Traoré, Sahko (Ceará 46), Camara, Armand, Chantôme, Clement, Sessegnon, Pancrate (Mabiala 88), Luyindula, Kezman (Hoarau 77).

13/03/09

Sporting Braga drew 0-0 with PSG in Paris on Thursday, leaving the UEFA Cup last 16 tie wide open for the return leg in Braga next Thursday.

Braga were at PSG's throats for the first twenty minutes and had the best chance of the first half on 26 minutes when Renteria was put through but was beaten to the ball by Edel, quick to come out of his goal. PSG steadily found their footing and the game was finely balanced by half time.

In the second half, the tables were reversed and it was Braga on the back foot, but they generally held off PSG, who came closest when Rothen hit a post with Eduardo beaten. Towards the end, Braga were back in control and pushing forward, but the lack of an away goal may prove costly in the return.

The teams lined up:

Paris Saint-Germain: Edel, Ceara, Camara, Traore, Armand, Makelele (Giuly 58), Clement, Chantome (Kezman 69), Rothen, Sessegnon, Luyindula (Hoarau 58).

Sporting de Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Rodriguez, Leone, Evaldo, Vandinho, César Peixoto (Stélvio Cruz 58), Luís Aguiar, Alan, Jorginho (Jorginho 70), Renteria (Mossoró 84).

12/03/09

FC Porto are through to the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since they won the competition in the 2003/04 season. They had brought a 2-2 draw from the first leg against Atlético Madrid, a game they should have won, and needed only to keep Atlético out to go through on away goals. This they did with great efficiency, but their performance was not as exuberant as in the first leg, and Atlético were better. As the game wore on, so the knife-edge became sharper, and a late goal from the Colchoneros could well have put Porto out. As in the first leg, Porto had many chances to put the game beyond doubt, but a combination of woodwork (efforts by Hulk and Lisandro) and excellent goalkeeping from Leo Franco (notably to keep out Fernando in the first half and Raul Meireles, Cristian Rodriguez and Lucho González) kept the result open until the final whistle.

The teams lined up:

FC Porto: Hélton, Sapunaru (Tomás Costa 83), Bruno Alves, Rolando, Cissokho, Fernando, Raul Meireles, Lucho González, Cristian Rodriguez, Lisandro López (Ernesto Farías 93), Hulk (Mariano González 89).

Atlético de Madrid: Leo Franco, Luis Perea, Pablo Ibañez, Ujfalusi, António Lopez, Paulo Assunção, Raul Garcia (Maniche 73), Maxi Rodriguez (Diego Forlán 54), Simão, Sinama Pongolle (De las Cuevas 79), Sergio Agüero.

Porto will meet one of four English clubs (Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea or Arsenal), one of two Spanish clubs (Barcelona or Villareal) or Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals.

11/03/09

Sporting were destroyed once again by the power of Bayern Munich in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday. Taking an insurmountable 0-5 deficit to Germany from the first leg, all that could have been asked of them was to show a little pride, dignity and hard work, and to limit the damage, but the score-line of 1-7 on the night (to make an incredible 1-12 aggregate score) illustrated clearly that they could not even manage that, and in fact might have been on the receiving end of a cricket score if Bayern had shifted up from third gear.

No Sporting player could be said to have escaped without at least a part of the blame for the humiliation, but some were more guilty than others; Polga and Rui Patrício conspired to help Podolski to the first two goals, which set the mood for the evening. Then Polga put spectacularly through his own goal on 40 minutes before Moutinho scored the goal of the night, a rising drive from 25 metres. But it was scant consolation, and a minute later, Bayern sliced through Sporting's left flank, the ball was cut back and Schweinsteiger cracked it in to make it 4-1 at half time.

To Sporting's credit, they came out a little more aggressively in the second half and avoided more shame until the 74th minute when Van Bommel won space near goal and flashed the ball in. On 82 minutes, Klose, now the Champions League top scorer, converted a spot kick after Pedro Silva had brought down Muller, and it was Muller that scored the seventh, tapping in from close range when the Sporting defence failed to clear a loose ball.

It was Sporting's worst ever defeat in European competitions.

The teams lined up:

Bayern Munich: Butt, Lell, Van Buyten, Lúcio (Breno 46), Lahm, Ottl, Van Bommel, Zé Roberto (Sosa 46), Schweinsteiger (Muller 72), Podolski, Klose.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Pedro Silva, Polga, Tonel, Miguel Veloso (Abel 46), Adrien (Caneira 75), Pereirinha (Izmailov 46), Vukcevic, João Moutinho, Yannick, Derlei.

27/02/09

Sporting Braga took a 3-0 lead to Liège for the second leg of their UEFA Cup tie, but the Belgian side were more effective than last week, when Braga dominated them completely in Portugal. Braga were looking over their shoulders throughout most of the match, but a combination of resolute defending (striker Stélvio drafted in to accompany André Leone in central defence, with four regular centre-backs injured), a sound performance by Eduardo in the Braga goal, and erratic attacking by Standard saw Braga through.

It was not until ten minutes from time that Standard managed a breakthrough, Mbokani beating Eduardo, but Braga did not tremble and in fact came back, Luís Aguiar hitting a cross shot past Espinoza in the dying minutes and finally killing Standard's hopes of a miracle.

The teams lined up:

Standard de Liège: Bolat (Espinoza 46), Marcos, Onyewu, Sarr, Mulemo, Dalmat (Benteke 86), Defour, Witsel, Goreux (Carcela-Gonzalez 73), De Camargo, Mbokani.

Sporting de Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Stélvio, Leone, Evaldo, Vandinho, Jorginho (Alan 56), César Peixoto, Luís Aguiar, Rentería (Orlando Sá 90), Meyong (Paulo César 69).

Braga will now meet Paris St Germain in the last 16; the first leg is in Paris on 12 March, the second in Braga on 18/19 March.

Thursday's result means that Braga have won this seasons' Intertoto Cup, since all the other survivors of that competition have now been knocked out. And that means that Braga are only the fourth Portuguese team to win a European trophy: Benfica and FC Porto have each won two European Cups, Porto have won a UEFA Cup, and Sporting have won a Cup-Winner's Cup.

26/02/09

Sporting's first ever taste of the last-16 of the Champions League ended in humiliating disaster - their biggest ever home defeat in European competitions. They started well and had a good chance from Anderson Polga cleared off the line by Lahm, and another from João Moutinho which he hit wide. But as the clock edged towards half-time, Bayern Munich struck: a sloppy pass in midfield saw the ball falling for Ribéry who squeezed between Tonel and Polga, the last line of defence, before beating Tiago.

The promise of a decent first-half display evaporated in a calamitous second half, with Bayern adding four against an increasingly punch-drunk Sporting. In a five minute period around the hour mark, Klose scored with his hip (!) from close range, and Ribéry got his second from the spot after Rochemback had clattered Lahm to the ground. It was Ribéry again who crossed on 84 minutes for Luca Toni to head home, and the same player was given two bites at the apple by a permissive Sporting defence to get his second and Bayern's fifth in added time.

The return leg in Munich will be a damage-limitation exercise for Paulo Bento and his team.

The teams lined up:

Sporting: Tiago, Abel (Pereirinha 61), Anderson Polga, Tonel, Marco Caneira, Rochemback, Izmailov (Vukcevic 61), João Moutinho, Romagnoli, Derlei (Yannick 71), Liedson.

Bayern Munich: Michael Rensing, Massimo Oddo (Christian Lell 67), Lúcio (Daniel Van Buyten 78), Martín Demichelis, Philipp Lahm, Mark Van Bommel, Zé Roberto, Bastian Schweinsteiger (Hamit Altintop 71), Franck Ribéry, Miroslav Klose, Luca Toni.

25/02/09

If FC Porto do not qualify for the quarter-finals of the Champions League, they will only have themselves to blame. They had Atlético Madrid on the ropes for practically the whole of the first half in the Vincente Calderón in Madrid, but they had left their ruthlessness at home. The string of missed chances began with Cristian Rodriguez from close range after two minutes, and a minute later Atlético were in front, Maxi Rodriguez knocking in at the back post from a pass by Aguero, with Cissokho guilty of ball-watching. There followed misses/saves by Léo Franco from relatively easy opportunities for Hulk and Lisandro López, while the latter also had a goal disallowed for a dubious offside. But then on 22 minutes, Raul Meireles headed forward and the ball dropped over the back of the defence, with Lisandro running on and placing it under the advancing Franco's body. Porto were so in control that it seemed they would coast to a comfortable victory, but in added time in the first half, Fórlan sent a speculative shot goalwards and Hélton let it slip through his hands and in: a true frango.

Atlético took some heart in the advantage and were stonger in the second half, especially in midfield, but Porto weathered a little bit of dominance from them before coming back with a second goal from Lisandro (after he had wasted another glaring point-blank chance); the excellent Christian Rodriguez fed Cissokho down the left and his cut-back cross was tapped in effortlessly by the Argentinian striker, now with six goals to his name in the Champions League.

So Porto take a 2-2 draw back to the Dragão on 11 March – two away goals that could prove priceless. If the relative performances of the two teams are duplicated in Portugal, there can only be one winner.

The teams lined up:

Atlético Madrid: Leo Franco, Seitaridis, Pablo Ibañez, Ujfalusi, António Lopez, Paulo Assunção, Raul Garcia (Maniche 67), Maxi Rodriguez (Miguel 80), Simão, Diego Forlan, Sérgio Agüero (Sinama-Pongolle 56).

FC Porto: Helton, Sapunaru (Pedro Emanuel 79), Rolando, Bruno Alves, Cissokho, Fernando, Raul Meireles (Tomás Costa 92), Lucho, Lisandro Lopez (Tarik Sektioui 90), Cristian Rodriguez, Hulk.

19/02/09

Sporting Braga produced a mature display to beat Belgian side Standard Liège 3-0 on Wednesday. Braga dominated the first half with their quick passing, and were in front going into the break through Colombian striker Rentería, who curled a shot into the top right hand corner from outside the area on the left, and through Brazilian central defender André Leone, who crashed the ball in from a frontal position after being fed by Rentería. Standard came back into the game a little more in the second half as Braga lost some shape, but the Arsenalistas got a vital third goal five minutes from time when Luís Aguiar finished off a flowing counter attack after being set up by Alan.

The teams lined up:

Sporting de Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Frechaut, André Leone, Evaldo, Vandinho, Alan (Stélvio 87), Luís Aguiar, César Peixoto (Orlando Sá 80), Meyong (Matheus 70), Rentería.

Standard Liège: Espinoza, Camozzato, Oneyewu, Mikulic, Mangala (Mulemo 64), Defour (Nicaise 10), Dalmat, Alex Witsel, Jovanovic (Benteke 90), De Camargo, Mbokani.

The return leg will be on 26 February. If Braga get through to the last 16, they will face either PSG or Wolfsburg. PSG won the first leg of their tie 2-0 on Wednesday.

20/12/08

Sporting will meet German giants Bayern Munich (home/away) in the last 16 of the Champions League, while FC Porto play Atlético Madrid (away/home). The first legs will be on 24 or 25 February.

Meanwhile, Sporting Braga face Belgian side Standard Liége (home/away) in the UEFA Cup on 18 or 19 February and 26 February.

19/12/08

Needing to win 8-0 (and depending on a draw in the other game being played) to qualify, Benfica, fielding a number of second-string players, could not even win in their last UEFA Cup group game, going down 0-1 to Metalist in front of just 5,000 at the Luz. Urreta hit the bar in the first half, Cardozo a post in the second, but it was Rykun who scored for the Ukrainian side late in the game.

Benfica: Moreira, Maxi Pereira, Sidnei, Miguel Vítor, David Luiz, Binya, Yebda, Felipe Bastos (Balboa 56), Urreta, Nuno Gomes (Di Maria 71), Cardozo.

Metalist Kharkiv: Goriainov, Maidana, Obradovic, Gueye, Gancarczyk, Edmar, Bordian, Sliusar, Trisovic (Rykun 64), Jajá (Konyushenko 79), Fomin (Devic 46).

The defeat left Benfica bottom of Group B with just one point from four games. Above them were surprise group winners Metalist on ten points, Galatasaray on nine, Olympiacos on six and Hertha on two. Olympiacos beat Hertha 4-0, making Benfica's game an academic exercise anyway.

11/12/08

FC Porto put in an accomplished performance at home to Arsenal on Wednesday in the last Group G game and came out 2-0 winners against what was practically a Gunners reserve side. Even so, there is no taking away from Porto the professionalism and effort they put in to make sure of a result that had various benefits: it was sweet revenge for the 0-4 drubbing in the away group game; Porto gained top spot in the group, and will in theory be pitted against 'weaker' opposition in the next round; the club earns 600 thousand euros; the result may well give the team a psychological boost domestically; the win gives Portugal points in the UEFA rankings.

On 39 minutes, Raul Meireles floated a corner in from the right for Bruno Alves to rise effortlessly above Gallas and head home. Ten minutes into the second half, Fernando, finally looking a good replacement for Paulo Assunção, fed Lisandro López on the left, and the Argentine striker strode on to drive the ball across Almuria and in.

The teams lined up:

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Bruno Alves, Rolando, Pedro Emanuel, Fernando, Raul Meireles, Lucho Gonzalez (Tomas Costa 78), Cristian Rodriguez (Mariano Gonzalez 78), Lisandro Lopez, Hulk (Guarin 88)

Arsenal: Manuel Almuria, Emmanuel Eboué, William Gallas, Mikael Silvestre, Johan Djourou, Aaron Ramsey (Jack Wilshere 59), Abou Diaby (Kieran Gibbs 59), Alexandre Song (Mark Randall 79), Denilson, Carlos Vela, Nicklas Bendtner

10/12/08

Sporting needed just one goal to beat Basel in Switzerland on Tuesday to guarantee three points and 600 thousand euros, which will come in very useful to help pay off the club's debts. Sporting finished in second place in Group C, behind Barcelona. A tap in from Djaló from a pass by Izmailov was enough to win the points and the cash.

The teams lined up:

Basel: Costanzo, Morganella, Marque, Ferati, Safari, Huggel, Ergic, Frei (Perovic 78), Chipperfield (Stocker 46), Carlitos, Streller (Derdiyok 66)

Sporting: Tiago, Pereirinha (Adrien 46), Carriço, Polga, Caneira, Rochemback (Miguel Veloso 73), João Moutinho, Izmailov, Vukcevic (Abel 45), Yannick, Derlei

05/12/08

Sporting Braga are in the knockout stages of the UEFA Cup after an excellent 2-1 win at Heerenveen. It was the Dutch side that went in front on 19 minutes, Sibon driving a free-kick into the top right-hand corner of the net from 20 metres. Braga were able to draw level on 35, Meyong crossing to the back post for Renteria to lose his marker and head past Steppe. Luís Aguiar curled in a free-kick on 56 minutes that effectively won Braga the points, although it needed a couple of good saves from Eduardo to stop Heerenveen coming back.

The teams lined up:

Heerenveen: Steppe, Breuer, Nielsen, Digsdag, Popov, Vavrynen (Henrique 28), Svec, Grindheim, Pranjic (Samarason 70), Beerens, Sibon (Elyounoussi 80).

Sporting Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Moisés, Leone, Evaldo, Vandinho, Alan, Luís Aguiar, Matheus (César Peixoto 41), Rentería (Paulo César 79), Meyong (Frechaut 88).

In the other Group E game, Wolfsburg beat Portsmouth 3-2. Wolfsburg are top of the group with nine points, Milan have seven and Braga six. Portsmouth on one and Heerenveen with no points are out. The top two play in the final round in two weeks' time while Braga rest.

Benfica did not play in the UEFA Cup this week, but after Tuesday's results from their group, they now know that to get through to the knockout stage, they have to beat Metalist by at least 8-0 in their final group game and hope that Olympiacos and Galatasaray draw. Metalist have yet to concede a goal in the group phase. Galatasaray top Group B followed by Metalist on seven, Olympiacos on three and Hertha on two. Benfica have just one point from their three games.

28/11/08

It will take a series of miracles for Benfica to qualify from Group B of the UEFA Cup after a 5-1 pounding at the hands of an impressive Olympiacos in Greece. They were one down within 40 seconds (Galletti) and three down within 25 minutes (Patsatzoglou on 18 and Diogo ), with the defence looking all at sea, David Luiz starting in place of Luisão. The young centre back gave Benfica some hope of a comeback on 33 minutes, firing in from a corner, but Belluschi made it 4-1 just before the break and Diogo completed the rout on 53 minutes.

The teams lined up:

Olympiacos: Nikopolidis, Pantos, Papadoupolos, Antzas, Domi, Patsatzoglou, Dudu Cearense, Galletti (Leto 59), Djordjevic, Belluschi (Óscar 76), Diogo (Kovacevic 69)

Benfica: Quim, Maxi Peireira, Sidnei, David Luiz, Jorge Ribeiro, Binya, Ruben Amorim (Balboa 59), Yebda (Carlos Martins 76), Reyes, Nuno Gomes (Urreta 56), Suazo

Benfica are bottom of the group with just one point from three games. Galatasaray lead on six, Metalist have four, Olympiacos three and Hertha two. Benfica rest next and may already be out when they play Metalist in their last group game.

Sporting Braga were not humiliated by Wolfsburg but they still lost 2-3, jeopardising their chances of qualification from Group E. Barzagli put through his own goal on six minutes to give Braga the lead, but Wolfsburg went in at half time level thanks to a goal by Dzeko. Meyong appeared to be offside when he put Braga back in front four minutes into the second half, but Misimovic from the spot and then again in added time gave the German side the points.

The teams lined up:

Sporting Braga: Eduardo, Frechaut, Moisés, Rodriguez, Evaldo, Vandinho, Alan, César Peixoto, Matheus (Luís Aguiar 64), Meyong (Orlando Sá 91), Renteria (Linz 71)

Wolfsburg: Diego Benaglio, Zaccardo, Ricardo Costa, Barzagli, Schäfer, Riether, (Saglik 67), Josué, Misimovic, Dejagah (Krzynowek 78), Gentner, Dzeko

Milan lead the group on seven points, followed by Wolfsburg on six. Braga have three, above Portsmouth on one and Heerenveen with none. Braga travel to Holland for their last game.

27/11/08

Sporting were entirely outclassed by a luxury Barcelona on Wednesday and will finish in second place in Group C behind the Catalan giants. The 2-5 scoreline was helped along by two own goals in the Sporting net and a debatable penalty plus sending-off, but any objective spectator will bow to the Spanish club's superiority in every department. The first half was a master-class in how to make a team look ordinary (Barça over Sporting), and by half-time, Barça were 2-0 up with goals by Henry and Piqué (more an own goal by Anderson Polga than anything else). Then Messi scored from a quick free-kick on 49 minutes, and it looked all over for Sporting. The Lisbon team came bravely back, with Miguel Veloso from a neat free-kick and Liedson from a through ball putting Sporting within sight of Barcelona. But then came an own goal from Marco Caneira and a red card for Rui Patrício, adjudged to have fouled Bojan although it appeared that he had touched the ball before the player. Krkic put the spot kick past sub Tiago to confirm Sporting's worst home defeat ever in Europe. the consolation is that they had already qualified for the last 16, along with Barcelona.

The teams lined up.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Caneira, Carriço, Polga, Grimi, Miguel Veloso, Pereirinha, Moutinho, Romagnoli (Derlei 45), Yannick (Tiago 72), Liedson (Postiga 78).

Barcelona: Valdés, Daniel Alves, Marquez, Pique, Cáceres, Busquets, Gudjohnsen, Xavi (Keita 74), Hleb, Messi (Pedro Rodriguez 56), Henry (Krkic 45).

26/11/08

After looking down and out two games ago, FC Porto are into the last 16 of the Champions League after securing a precious 2-1 win in Turkey against Fenerbahçe. A midfield of Fernando, Tomás Costa and Raul Meireles (Lucho González was suspended) gave Porto a springboard to score two goals within half an hour, both by Lisandro López, although the second appeared to follow a handball by the Argentine striker. Kazim Kazim pulled one back for the Turkish side on 63 minutes, but Porto held on for the vital three points.

Fenerbahçe: Volkan Demirel, Gokhan, Edu, Yasin, Roberto Carlos, Josico, Alex, Boral, Emre (Kazim Kazim 46), Deivid (Yilmaz 77), Guiza.

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Pedro Emanuel, Fernando, Tomás Costa (Guarín 61), Raúl Meireles, Rodríguez (Marianao 74), Hulk (Pelé 78), Lisandro.

Porto qualify from Group G along with Arsenal.

07/11/08

Benfica took a step backwards in their UEFA Cup ambition on Thursday, losing 0-2 at home to Galatasaray. Despite Benfica's having more chances, it was Emre Asik from a corner on 51 minutes and Ümit Karan on 69 that gave the Turkish side the points.

The teams lined up:

Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, Sidnei, Jorge Ribeiro, Di María, Katsouranis, Yebda (Carlos Martins 64), Reyes (Aimar 57), Nuno Gomes (Cardozo 60), Suazo.

Galatasaray: De Sanctis, Sarioglu, Cetin, Asik, Balta, Lincoln, Meira, Akman, Ardan Turan (Yaman 90), Baros (Guven 80), Karan (Yildiz 84).

In the other Group B game, Metalist drew 0-0 at home to Hertha Berlin. the results leave Galatasaray top on six points while Hertha have two, Metalist and Benfica one and Olympiakos none.

Despite a superb display that made the mighty AC Milan look ordinary at times, Sporting Braga brought back a 0-1 defeat from Italy. A series of missed chances, especially from the Colombian Renteria, saw Braga edging towards only a 0-0 draw as the final whistle approached. Then in added time, sub Ronaldinho fired an excellent shot from outside the area into the top left-hand corner to leave Braga empty-handed; an injustice for a bold Braga side.

The teams lined up:

AC Milan: Dida, Antonini, Senderos, Kaladze, Jankulovski, Gattuso, Emerson (Seedorf 68), Flamini, Pato (Ronaldinho 63), Inzaghi, Shevchenko.

Sporting Braga: Eduardo, Frechaut, Moisés, Rodriguez, Evaldo, Vandinho, Alan (João Pereira 89), Luís Aguiar, César Peixoto (Matheus 74), Rentería, Meyong (Paulo César 46).

In the other Group E game, Wolfsburg beat Heerenveen 5-1. The results leave Milan on top with six points, with Wolfsburg and Braga on three and Heerenveen and Portsmouth on none.

06/11/08

After three straight defeats, FC Porto returned to their winning ways in a vital Champions League fixture, beating direct rivals Dynamo Kiev 2-1 on their own turf; Os Dragões had lost to Dynamo in Porto in the last game. Porto looked much more up for it than in previous lacklustre performances and dominated the first half. Raul Meireles hit the post on eight minutes, but it was Dynamo who scored first, against the run of play and with their first dangerous attack on 21 minutes. Ghioane touched the ball to Milevskiy who was allowed all the time in the world to pick his spot low and beyond Helton's right hand from the edge of the box.

Porto desperately needed to turn it around or it was a probable farewell to the knockout stages, but they kept plugging away and finally broke back from a set piece: Raul Meireles swung a free-kick in from the right and centre back Rolando thundered in to head home. A draw was good, a win would have been better, and so it came to pass. Into added time, Lisandro was put through on the right by sub Pelé and the Argentine forward's low cross was met by his compatriot Lucho González for a tap-in from close range.

The captain ripped his shirt off in joyous celebration and promptly saw a yellow, his second, and the subsequent red. He is a key player and will miss the next game against Fenerbahçe, but even this bit of bad news could not put a dampener on the Porto contingent's huge sense of relief.

The teams lined up:

Dynamo Kiev: Bogush, Betão, Diakhate, Mikhalik, Nesmachniy, Eremenko, Vukojevic, Ghioane (Bangoura 60), El Kaddouri, Aliyev, Milevskiy

F.C. Porto: Helton, Sapunaru (Pele 68), Rolando, Bruno Alves, Pedro Emanuel (Lino 78), Fernando, Lucho González, Raul Meireles, Sektioui (Hulk 46), Lisandro Lopez, Rodríguez

In the other Group G game, Arsenal could only draw 0-0 at home to Fenerbahçe. Arsenal are on eight points, Porto on six, Dynamo on five and Fenerbahçe on two; Porto's CL future is now in their own hands.

05/11/08

Two weeks ago Sporting grabbed what was to prove a crucial 1-0 win at Shakhtar Donetsk. On Tuesday they managed the same result at home agains the same club and in the process secured a lucrative and unprecedented place in the last 16 of the competition. In Donetsk, Derlei had provided a sublime back-heeled pass for Liedson to score. This time, Derlei was on the bench but replaced Postiga on 68 minutes and broke the deadlock five minutes later, jinking up a low cut-back cross from the excellent Izmailov before volleying the ball past Pyatov's right hand.

The teams lined up:

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Grimi, Polga, Caneira, Miguel Veloso, Rochemback, Izmailov (Pereirinha 91), Moutinho, Postiga (Derlei 68), Liedson.

Shakhtar: Pyatov, Srna, Rat, Chygrynskiy, Kusher, Fernandinho, Jadson (Luiz Adriano 74), Willian, Hübschman (Lewandowski 80), Moreno, Brandão.

In the other Group C game, Barcelona could only draw 1-1 at home to Basel, but remain top of the group on 10 points, one ahead of Sporting. the interest in the group is now to see who comes top and who qualifies for the UEFA Cup as third: Shakhtar have three points, Basel one.

24/10/08

It was a good night for the Portuguese sides in the UEFA Cup on Thursday.

Sporting Braga had a good win in Group E, 3-0 at home to Premier League club Portsmouth. Luís Aguiar curved in an exquisite free-kick from 25 metres on eight minutes, beating David James left hand, and then a minute into the second half, Renteria slotted the ball home from five metres after good work from Aguiar and Meyong on the edge of the area. The result was topped off three minutes from time, with Alan the quickest to a loose ball after a 'clearance' by a Portsmouth defender had bobbled off the post. It was Braga's seventh straight win in Europe this year.

The teams lined up:

Braga: Eduardo, Frechaut, Moises, Alberto Rodriguez, Evaldo, Vandinho (Paulo Cesar 86), Alan, Matheus (Cesar Peixoto 63), Aguiar, Renteria (Stelvio Cruz 83), Meyong.

Portsmouth: James, Campbell, Pamarot, Armand Traore (Kanu 62), Distin, Davis, Diop, Hreidarsson (Belhadj 46), Little, Defoe, Crouch.

In the other Group E game, AC Milan beat Hereenven 3-1 in Holland.

Meanwhile, Benfica brought a point back from Berlin with a 1-1 draw at Hertha in Group B. Di Maria put them in front on 51 minutes after a scything through ball from Nuno Gomes. Quique Flores made some changes and Benfica appeared to crumple a little. Indeed, on 74 minutes, Marko Pantelic was given all the time in the world inside the area to float a shot over Quim, giving Hertha the draw and a point.

The teams lined up:

Hertha Berlin: Jaroslav Drobny, Sofian Chahed, Arne Friedrich (Kaká 53), Josip Simunic, Marc Stein (Marko Pantelic 66), Pal Dardai (Gojko Kacar 46), Cícero Santos, Fabian Lustenberger, Maximilian Nicu, Raffael, Andriy Voronin.

Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, Sidnei, Jorge Ribeiro, Binya, Katsouranis (Carlos Martins 66), Di Maria, Reyes (Urreta 72), Nuno Gomes, Óscar Cardozo (Suazo 46).

In the other Group B game, Galatasaray beat Olympiakos 1-0 in Turkey.

23/10/08

It was a contest packed with fouls and missed passes between two not very good teams, in a three-way competition (Shakhtar, Sporting and Basel) to see which one was the least bad and could therefore accompany a-class-above Barcelona (who beat Basel 5-0 on the night) from Group C into the knock-out stages of the Champions League. And then, in a magical moment fifteen minutes from time, Derlei produced a sublime back-heeled pass to find Liedson, and O Levezinho ('The Little Light One') dispatched the ball coolly past the Shakhtar 'keeper from five metres. It proved to be the winner, the Ukrainian side, the better on the night overall, folding like deflated water wings.

The teams lined up:

Shakhtar Donetsk: Pyatov, Srna, Kucher, Chygrynskiy, Rat, Duljaj, Hubschman (Gai 82), Jadson (Willian 71), Fernandinho, Moreno (Gladkiy 71), Brandão.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Tonel, Polga, Miguel Veloso, Rochemback, João Moutinho, Izmailov (Grimi 73), Romagnoli (Pereirinha 67), Liedson, Derlei (Hélder Postiga 88)

The result leaves Sporting with six points, three behind Barcelona and three in front of Shakhtar, who they meet next at home. Basel are firmly rooted at the bottom of the group with no points.

22/10/08

After the 0-4 demolition at the hands of Arsenal in their last Champions League outing, FC Porto took another step backwards in Group G when they went down 0-1 at home to Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday. It was their first home defeat in 20 Champions League games, the last coming against Artmedia in the Co Adriaanse era.

Porto had a number of chances to score throughout the game, most notably through the Argentinian captain Lucho González who hit the post after sterling work by compatriot Lisandro López on the left. But it was Dynamo who made the breakthrough on 27 minutes, Aliyev hitting a treacherous free kick from 25 metres which bamboozled Nuno, who replaced Hélton, dropped.

The teams lined up:

F.C. Porto: Nuno, Sapunaru, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Lino, Lucho González, Fernando (Hulk 46), Raul Meireles, Mariano (Tomaz Costa 67), Lisandro, Rodríguez (Sektioui 62)

Dynamo Kiev: Bogush, Betão, Kiakhate, Mikhalik, Nesmachniy, Vukojevic, El Kaddouri, Ghioane (Eremenko 60), Aliyev, Ninkovic (Asatiani 82), Bangoura (Milevskiy 46)

The result jeopardises Porto's chances of making it through to the knockout stage: Arsenal won 5-2 at Fenerbahçe and lead the group on seven points, followed by Dynamo on five and Porto on three; Fenerbahçe have just one point. Porto travel to Kiev next.

08/10/08

Benfica have been given relatively accessible opponents in the group phase of the UEFA Cup: Hertha Berlin, Galatasaray, Olympiakos and Metalist.

Hertha-Benfica, 23 October
Benfica-Galatasaray, 6 November
Olympiakos-Benfica, 27 November
Rest, 3 de December
Benfica-Metalist, 18 December

Sporting Braga have a difficult group: Portsmouth, Wolfsburg, Heerenveen and ... AC Milan.

Braga-Portsmouth, 23 October
AC Milan-Braga, 6 November
Braga-Wolfsburgo, 23 November
Heerenveen-Braga, 4 December
Rest, 18 December

01/10/08

Despite a period in the first half when they might have gone ahead, Cristian Rodriguez for example heading against the bar, FC Porto ended up humiliated at the Emirates Stadium against an ultimately very impressive Arsenal who knocked four past them … but it could have been double that, or even more by the end. Porto were hit by two sucker punches in the first half, Van Persie beating his markers to a low cross at the near post on the half hour, while a virtually unchallenged Adebayor headed in five minutes from half time to virtually break the back of Porto's hopes. They were well and truly dashed three minutes into the second half, with Van Persie prodding home his second, and Adebayor strolled up to stroke a spot kick past the ineffectual Hélton on 71 minutes. Van Persie, Nasri and Adebayor, to name but three, were guilty of flagrant misses in the second half that could have resulted in an infamously unfavourable score for Porto, but as it was, 4-0 was flattering to them by the end.

The teams lined up:

Arsenal: Almunia; Sagna, Touré, Gallas, Clichy, Walcott (Vela), Fabregas, Denilson, Nasri (Eboué 65), Van Persie (Bendtner 65), Adebayor

F.C. Porto: Helton, Sapunaru, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Benitez, Fernando (Lucho González 46), Tomás Costa, Guarin, Raul Meireles (Hulk 64m), Lisandro Lopez, Rodriguez (Candeias 79)

18/09/08

FC Porto were comfortable 3-1 winners over Fenerbahçe in Group G of the Champions League, but still the home supporters at the Dragão were unhappy with a grey performance. Porto were two up within 13 minutes, Argentinians Lisandro and Lucho on target. Güiza reduced the lead on the half hour, and Porto were exposed to an equaliser until added time when Lino fixed the final result.

The teams lined up:

FC Porto: Helton, Sapunaru, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Benítez, Fernando, Raul Meireles (Tomás Costa 66), Lucho, Mariano (Hulk 60), Rodríguez (Lino 91), Lisandro.

Fenerbahçe: Volkan Demirel, Göhkan Gönul, Lugano, Yasin Çakmak, Roberto Carlos, Emre, Selçuk, Sahin, Maldonado, Ugur Boral (Kazim Kazim 76), Alex (Josico 45 / Burak 53), Güiza.

17/09/08

A timid Sporting predictably came away from the Nou Camp pointless, going down 1-3 at Barcelona in Group C of the Champions League. Marquez headed Barça in front from a corner on 21 minutes, Eto'o extending the lead from the spot on the hour. While Tonel gave Sporting some hope from close range on 72 minutes, all their hopes came to nothing on 87 when Xavi got Barça's third. The result reflected Sporting's dismal 38% possession during the game.

The teams lined up.

Barcelona: Valdés, Piqué, Marquez, Puyol (Sylvinho 89), Keita, Daniel Alves, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Henry (Pedro 74), Eto'o (Yaya Touré 66).

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Tonel, Polga, Caneira (Pereirinha 79), João Moutinho, Rochemback, Izmailov, Romagnoli (Miguel Veloso 64), Derlei, Yannick Djaló (Postiga 62).

30/08/08

The draw for the first round proper of the UEFA Cup was in general not too kind on the five Portuguese clubs in the competition. Benfica are away to Napoli in the first leg while Vitória de Guimarães are at Portsmouth. Marítimo have possibly the toughest job, receiving Valência in the first leg. Vitória de Setúbal and Sporting Braga are at home to Heerenveen and Artmedia, respectively. The ties will be played out on 18 September and 2 October. The winners of this round go into the group stage.

29/08/08

Sporting Braga are through to the group stage of the UEFA Cup after beating NK Zrinsjki 2-0 in Bosnia, giving them a 3-0 win on aggregate. César Peixoto fired in from the left of goal ten minutes into the second half to put the game virtually beyond the reach of Zrinsjki, who had been on top overall until then. Mateus scored a goal that was a carbon copy of Peixoto's on the stroke of time.

NK Zrinsjki: Melher, Anicic, Sunjic, Nikolic, Zurzinov, Serdarusic, Selimovic (Vukovic 79), Djuric, Zizovic, Stojanovic (Kordic 74), Matko.
Sporting Brage: Eduardo; João Pereira, Moisés, Rodriguez, Evaldo, Stélvio, Alan (Mossoró 46), Luís Aguiar, César Peixoto (Linz 75), Meyong (Matheus 64), Paulo César.

The draw was made for the group stage of the Champions League on Thursday.

FC Porto have been drawn in Group G along with Arsenal, Fenerbahçe and Dynamo Kiev

Porto's calendar looks like this:

1st jornada (17 September)
F.C. Porto-Fenerbahçe

2st jornada (30 September)
Arsenal FC - FC Porto

3st jornada (21 October)
F.C. Porto-Dynamo Kiev

4st jornada (5 November)
Dynamo Kiev-FC Porto

5st jornada (25 November)
Fenerbahçe-FC Porto

6st jornada (10 December)
F.C. Porto-Arsenal

Sporting have been drawn in Group C along with Barcelona, FC Basel (who knocked Vitória de Guimarães out of the competition) and Russian side Shakhtar Donetsk.

Sporting's calendar looks like this:

1st jornada (16 September)
Barcelona-Sporting

2st jornada (1 October)
Sporting-Basel

3st jornada (22 October)
Shakhtar Donetsk-Sporting

4st jornada (4 November)
Sporting-Shakhtar Donetsk

5st jornada (26 November)
Sporting-Barcelona

6st jornada (9 December)
Basel-Sporting

Cristiano Ronaldo was voted Forward of the Year and Best Player of the Year for his performances with Manchester United in last season's Champions League.

28/08/08

Vitória de Guimarães are out of the Champions League after going down 1-2 to FC Basel in Switzerland; the first leg had ended 0-0.

Stocker, in front of goal, was played onside by Flávio Meireles on 11 minutes and had time to place the ball past Nilson's right hand. But Vitória bounced back three minutes later, Fajardo scoring from the spot after Marquinho had been brought down in the box. If it had stayed that way, Vitória would have qualified on the away-goal rule, but ten minutes into the second half Derdyok restored Basel's lead and the goal ultimately proved vital. Three minutes from time Roberto had a good goal disallowed for a non-existent offside, and there were tussles at the end as the disgruntled Vitória players and staff left the pitch. "We were knocked out by shameful refereeing", said coach Manuel Cajuda after the game. Vitória now go to the UEFA Cup.

The teams lined up:

Basel: Franco Costanzo, Reto Zanni, David Abraham, François Marque, Behrang Safari, Benjamin Huggel, Ivan Ercig (Beg Ferati 89), Marcos Gelabert (Scott Chipperfield 64), Carlitos, Valentin Stocker, Eren Derdiyok.

Vitória
de Guimarães: Nilson, Andrezinho, Gregory, Moreno, Luciano Amaral, Flávio Meireles, João Alves (Jean Coral 62), Marquinho (Luís Filipe 56), Fajardo (Roberto 69), Desmarets, Douglas.

15/08/08

There was another short-sighted referee operating in the north of Portugal on Thursday. The Polish ref had denied Vitória de Guimarães two penalties for hand ball on Wednesday. The Austrian ref in the first leg of Sporting Braga's UEFA Cup preliminary round tie against Bosnian side NK Zrinsjki actually helped Braga out by not seeing his compatriot Linz's handling of a loose ball to take it past Melher before hooking it into the net on 67 minutes. It was the only goal separating the teams.

The teams lined up.

Sporting Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Moisés, Rodriguez, Evaldo, Alan (Vandinho 83), Frechaut, Mossoró (Matheus 46), Luís Aguiar, Meyong (Wender 79), Linz.

NK Zrinsjki: Melher, Sunkic, Stojanovic (Kordic 81), Zurzinov, Ivankovic, Serdarusic, Anicic (Susic 47), Zizovic, Djuric, Matko, Selimovic.

Portugal begin the 2008/09 season in ninth place in the UEFA rankings, with England top. the rankings, which take the last five seasons as point of reference, mean that Portugal will lose one team from the Europe in the 2009/10 season, two clubs going to the Champions League (one automatically, one having to qualify through the preliminary rounds). This situation will be repeated in the following season if Portugal do not reach at least sixth place in the rankings. Portugal will have four teams in the UEFA Cup in 2009/10

14/08/08

Vitória de Guimarães may have blown a supreme chance to enter the lucrative Champions League group stage for the first time in the club's history. They drew 0-0 with Swiss club FC Basel on Wednesday in the first leg of the final preliminary round, leaving the return in two weeks' time on a knife-edge. Vitória began a little nervously, and Basel it was who threatened first, Stocker's shot from outside the area saved low by Nilson. Midway through the first half, the Polish referee turned a blind eye to two handballs by Basel defenders in the area, the second from a shot by Douglas that was going goalwards. But apart from those missed opportunities, a Vitória lacking penetration did not deserve much more than the draw against an ultra-defensive Basel, and the only consolation can be that they did not concede an away goal.

The teams lined up.

Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Andrezinho, Moreno, Gregory, Luciano Amaral, Flávio Meireles, João Alves, Marquinho (Carlitos 46), Fajardo (Jean Coral 61), Desmarets, Douglas (Roberto 76).

Basel: Costanzo, Zanni, Abraham, Marque, Safari, Huggel, Stocker (Perovic 71), Ergic, Gelabert, Carlitos (Rubi 87), Derdiyok (Mustafi 80).

02/08/08

Vitória de Guimarães will play Gothemberg (Sweden) or Basel (Switzerland) in the third qualifying round of the Champions League on 12/13 (home) and 26/27 (away) August. The winners will go into the group stage.

Sporting Braga will play NK Zrinjski (Bosnia) in the second pre-qualifying round of the UEFA Cup on 14 (home) and 28 (away) August. The winners will go into the first round proper.

27/07/08

Sporting Braga confirmed their qualification to the second preliminary round of the UEFA Cup Saturday by beating Turkish side Sivasspor 3-0 (5-0 on aggregate) in the Intertoto Cup. Matheus just before half time, and Linz and Luís Aguiar from the spot in the second half, got the goals.

The teams lined up:

Sporting Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Moisés, Leone, Evaldo, Frechaut, Vandinho, Luís Aguiar, Wender (Jorginho 84), Matheus (Stélvio 71), Linz (Orlando Sá 84).

Sivasspor: Vardar, Abdurrahman (Bayar 36), Bilica (Solgelmei 59), Diallo, Ilhan, Sylla, Musa, Sérgio Pacheco, Devran, Balaili, Dagasan (Tum Herve 54).

21/07/08

Sporting Braga beat Turkish club Sivasspor on Sunday in the first leg of the third round of the Intertoto Cup. Roland Linz and defender Moises got the goals. The second leg will be on 26 July in Braga.

Braga lined up: Eduardo, João Pereira, Moisés, Leone, Evaldo, Frechaut, Vandinho, Wender (Filipe Oliveira 93), Luís Aguiar (Matheus 73), Paulo César ( (Stélvio 46), Roland Linz.

15/07/08

The Tribunal Arbitral du Sport has upheld UEFA's decision to include FC Porto in next season's Champions League. Benfica and Vitória de Guimarães had appealed for Porto to be removed following the Portuguese Liga's decision to suspend president Pinto da Costa for alleged match-fixing, a decision which has still to be ratified by the Portuguese Football Federation.

15/08/08

Sporting Braga play Turkish club Sivasspor on Sunday in the first leg of the third round of the Intertoto Cup. The first leg will be played in Turkey, the second on 26 July in Braga.

18/06/08

UEFA have decided to suspend the decision to bar FC Porto from next season's Champions League following alleged match-fixing in the 2003/04 season. The European football body needed confirmation that the club had been found guilty by the Portuguese Football Federation. However, the process is still with the Federation's Council of Justice, which is currently considering an appeal by Porto president Pinto da Costa (and by extension FC Porto) of the decision (to dock the club six points) handed down by the Liga Disciplinary Committee.

13/06/08

UEFA's decision to bar FC Porto from next season's European competitions has been annulled on appeal from the Portuguese champions. The grounds for the annulment are (i) that it is not clear whether the Portuguese Liga's decision to dock Porto six points (in respect of alleged wrongdoing in the 2003/04 season) has actually been confirmed in Portugal (Porto president Pinto da Costa has appealed the Liga's decision to ban him for two years, the appeal now being considered by the Football Federation; Porto the club has attached itself to this appeal); and (ii) that Benfica and Vitória de Guimarães, the two clubs that would benefit from Porto's removal from the Champions League, were not heard by the UEFA Disciplinary Committee when the first decision was made. The process now returns to the Disciplinary Committee. A new decision is expected next week.

In the first hour after the decision was announced in Nyon, Porto's shares shot up by 22% on the Portuguese Bolsa.

07/06/08

FC Porto have formally appealed UEFA's recent decision to bar the club from UEFA competitions next season. This follows the ruling by the Disciplinary Committee of the Portuguese Liga de Clubes that Porto should be docked points for alleged match-fixing in the 2003/04 season, a ruling that the club did not appeal domestically. UEFA's decision on the appeal is expected on 11 or 12 June.

05/06/08

F.C. Porto were excluded from next season's Champions League (CL) following a decision from UEFA. The case refers to the 2003/04 season, when Porto are accused by the Portuguese Liga de Clubes of attempted bribery of referees; the decision saw the club shorn of six points in the Liga, and now precludes it from taking part in the European competition they won in 1987 and 2004. FC Porto are now set to appeal the decision, which must be done by 9 June.

Porto president Pinto da Costa, speaking to TV channel SIC, was resolute: "The club does not consider itself to be out of the CL. We're working on the appeal ... and we're absolutely convinced that we're going to be in the CL this year ... Even if we don't go to the CL, we'll have positive results on the pitch."

If Porto are removed from the competition, Vitória de Guimarães will qualify directly for the CL (along with Sporting), while Benfica will have to qualify through a preliminary round. Marítimo and Vitória de Setúbal, already qualified for the UEFA Cup, will be joined by Sporting Braga.

UEFA's PR Director, William Gaillard, made it clear that Porto will not lose the CL title won in 2004, as nothing decided on Wednesday bears any relation to the CL of that year.

It will be the first time in 35 years that FC Porto have not played in Europe.

31/05/08

UEFA are to announce on 4 June their decision on whether FC Porto are banned from next season's Champions League. The Portuguese Liga recently docked Porto six points for alleged referee-fixing in the 2003/04 season. Porto did not appeal the decision and the details were sent to UEFA. If Porto are banned, they will lose at least 8.4 million euros at a stroke, 15% of the annual budget for the team.

 

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