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european competitions - 2009/10

footballportugal

02/04/10

Benfica will take a scant 2-1 lead into the second leg of the Europa League quarter-finals against Liverpool after Thursday's tense but not always well-played first leg. Liverpool showed first, and on nine minutes, Gerrard sent a low free-kick into the area from the left and an unmarked Agger flicked the ball in from ten metres. Benfica had the most and the best chances to alter the scoreline, but in the first half hour, Cardozo on three occasions, Di Maria and Ramires failed to complete. Then on 30 minutes, Babel was sent off for intimidating Luisão. Liverpool then got the ball in the net again on 37 minutes, but Torres' 'goal' was ruled out for offside.

On 57 minutes, Cardozo sent a free-kick against the post, with Agger bringing Aimar down on the rebound. Cardozo got his 8th goal in Europe from the spot. Fifteen minutes from time, Torres was through on goal but sent his shot pat the left hand post. Three minutes later, Di Maria jinked to the by-line and saw his cross cut out by Carragher's hand (seen by the 5th official). Cardozo once again scored from the spot, this time stroking his ninth European goal into the bottom right-hand corner, with Reina going the other way.

Benfica: Júlio César, Maxi (Nuno Gomes 59), Luisão, David Luiz, Fábio Coentrão, Javi Garcia, Ramires, Carlos Martins (Ruben Amorim 71), Di María, Aimar (Airton 81), Cardozo.

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Insúa, Lucas, Mascherano, Kuyt, Gerrard (Benayoun 91), Babel, Fernando Torres (Ngog 81).

20/03/10

Benfica will face Liverpool in the quarter-finals of the Europa League, drawn on Friday in Nyon, Switzerland. The teams will meet on 1 April in Lisbon and 8 April in England. Both games will kick off at 20.05.

Benfica last met Liverpool in the Champions League last-16 round in the 2005/06 season. They won 1-0 in the Luz and 2-0 at Anfield.

If Benfica get past Liverpool, they will meet either Valência or Atlético Madrid (who knocked out Sporting) in the semi-finals.

The full draw:

Fulham (England) v Wolfsburg (Germany)
Hamburg (Germany) v Standard Liège (Belgium)
Valência (Spain) v Atlético Madrid (Spain)
BENFICA v Liverpool (England)

19/03/10

Benfica came from behind to beat Marseilles 2-1 in France on Thursday and go through to the quarter-finals of the Europa League. A series of missed chances, notably by Di Maria, with Cardozo hitting the post, meant that it stayed 0-0 until the 70th minute. Nor did the referee help the Benfica cause: Taiwo brought down Ramires in the area and later handled, but the Slovenian Damir Skomina gave nothing. At 0-0, Marseilles were through after the 1-1 draw at the Luz, and on 70, Niang knocked in the easiest of chances after Júlio César had left his goal to challenge Brandão on the left. The Benfica of last season may well have folded at that point, but this one is made of sterner stuff, and they levelled the tie on 74, a shot from 30 metres by Maxi Pereira deflecting past Mandanda. Kardec replaced the subdued Saviola on 86 and on the stroke of time, the tall Brazilian striker cracked home a shot from an acute angle to give Benfica a famous victory. It was their 100th official goal of the season.

Marseilles: Mandanda, Bonnart, Diawarra, M'Bia, Taiwo, Cissé, Lucho, Cheyrou (Kaboré 75), Abriel (Koné 44; Ben Arfa 92), Niang, Brandão.

Benfica: Júlio César, Maxi Pereira (Miguel Vítor 94), Luisão, David Luiz, Fábio Coentrão, Javi García, Ramires, Carlos Martins (Kardec 86), Di María, Saviola (Aimar 77), Cardozo.

After a 0-0 draw in Spain,
Sporting drew again with Atlético Madrid (2-2) but were knocked out of the Europa League on the away goals rule. It was the Argentinian Kun Agüero who made the difference on the night, scoring two goals on three and 33 minutes. Liedson equalised the first goal on 19, while Anderson Polga got the second equaliser on the stroke of half time. With 45 minutes left to get the vital third goal, Sporting (depleted through injuries, suspensions and the mysterious absence of key midfielder Izmailov) huffed and puffed, but it was not to be; the team left the field to a standing ovation from the demanding Alvalade crowd.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Caneira, Polga, Pedro Silva (Vukcevic 53), Pedro Mendes, Pereirinha (Matias 70), João Moutinho, Miguel Veloso, Saleiro, Liedson.

Atlético Madrid: De Gea, Ujfalusi, Perea, Álvaro Domingez, António Lopez, Reyes, Paulo Assunção, Raul Garcia, Simão (Valera 67), Jurado (Camacho 89), Aguero (Forlan 80).

There were scuffles between opposing fans before the game, with several injuries and arrests reported.

12/03/10

It was a good night for Sporting in the Europa League, but less so for their Lisbon neighbours Benfica.

Sporting went to Madrid and squeezed out a 0-0 draw, despite being down to nine men by the end. Left back Grimi was sent off on the half hour for a second yellow, while centre-back Tonel saw a straight red a minute from time for pushing Agüero at a free-kick. Sporting came closest to scoring in the first half, Liedson rattling the bar with a terrific shot from the edge of the box.

Atlético de Madrid: David de Gea, Perea (Juan Valera 13), Ujfalusi, Álvaro Domínguez, António López, Paulo Assunção, Raul Garcia (Jurado 72), Simão Sabrosa (Salvio 58), José António Reyes, Diego Forlán, Sérgio Agüero.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Tonel, Polga, Grimi, Pedro Mendes, Miguel Veloso (Adrien 85), Pereirinha (Pedro Silva 61), João Moutinho, Izmailov, Liedson (Saleiro 91).

Benfica did not at all have it their won way at the Luz against difficult Marseilles. Goalkeeper Júlio César kept the score-sheet blank on several occasions as the French side, with ex- Porto midfielder Lucho González in their ranks, pressured in midfield and forced errors from the Benfica players, used to dominating domestic games. But Benfica found the net a quarter of an hour from time, Maxi Rodriguez lurking in the box to tap in after Mandada had fumbled following a Di Maria run on the left. The benfiquistas in the 46,000 crowd were counting themselves lucky that the side would be going to France next week with a lead, albeit slender. But on the stroke of time, sub Arfa complicated matters with a header to level the score.

Benfica: Júlio César, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, David Luiz, César Peixoto (Fábio Coentrão 77), Javi Garcia, Ramires, Aimar (Carlos Martins 65), Di Maria, Saviola (Éder Luis 87), Cardozo.

Marseilles: Mandada, Bonnart, Diawara, Mbia, Taiwo, Cissé, Lucho Gonzalez, Cheyrou, Abriel (Valbuena 70), Brandão, Niang (Ben Arfa 75).

10/03/10

FC Porto put in their worst performance of the season and, according to some Portuguese pundits, their worst ever European performance on Tuesday to crash out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage. The 0-5 defeat at Arsenal was a humiliation, but it could in fact have been a cricket score. Porto took a 2-1 lead from the first leg, but that was always going to be thin if the team could not produce a concentrated, solid display against a slick Arsenal side. What happened was the polar opposite of that.

Oddly, it was Porto that showed first, but it was two minutes of pressure before the onslaught of dynamic passing play from the London team. Porto might have ridden the storm, but they lost so much ball in midfield, and gave Arsenal so much space, and folded so easily in defence that they would have needed a miracle on the night to get a result.

Arsenal were without Cesc Fabregas, but they had Arshavin, who was absent in the Porto leg, and he proved key on the night. On seven minutes, he popped up at the back post to, with Helton on hand to block his header. On 10 minutes, he raced onto a through ball into the heart of the area, Helton and Fucile got their signals wrong, the ball fell for Bendtner and the Danish striker swept the ball in. Fucile was to have a nightmare of a game, while Helton recovered from this early mistake and would later keep the score from reaching historic proportions.

On 25 minutes, the Uruguayan full-back had a brainstorm on the line, and instead of letting the ball go out, turned and only half cleared it to Arshavin, who surged forward and crossed from the left for Bendtner to get his second with a simple tap-in. Before the break, Arshavin blasted over an open goal after a cut back from Nasry, and Bendtner curled a shot goalwards that Helton pushed round the post. The Brazilian 'keeper had more work to do to keep out Song and Nasry. The closest Porto had come all half was a speculative shot from the halfway line by Hulk, with Almunía out of his goal. The oranges could not come quickly enough for a rattled Porto.

But not all was not yet lost for Porto; a goal would have seen the tie squared. At half time, coach Jesualdo Ferreira brought Uruguayan forward Cristian Rodriguez on for Nuno André Coelho, who, as a central defender, was a surprise starter (and struggled) for Porto in the defensive midfield position normally occupied by Fernando, injured. Porto suggested that they might be able to pull the score back, Rodriguez injecting a little infectious urgency into Porto's play. On 54 minutes, Hulk and Rodriguez combined well on the left and the ball was crossed for Falcao, the Colombian striker shooting straight at Almunía. From a corner on the hour, a Rodriguez header was cleared off the line by Nasry.

It was the same Nasry who sentenced Porto three minutes later. He is a skilful player, but the room that Rodriguez, Meireles and Pereira gave him on the left of the Porto defence was scandalous; he said thank you very much, jinked through the clumsy challenges and non-challenges and fired past Helton from a narrow angle. Two minutes after that, Arsenal broke from a Porto corner, Arshavin had the legs on Fucile, the Russian touched a ball through to sub Eboué and he rounded Helton and tucked the ball into the empty net. At 4-0, the game and tie were over, but Arsenal heaped just a little more misery on a sorry Porto side two minutes from time, the hapless Fucile bringing down Eboué in the box and Bendtner clipping the spot kick just beyond Helton's right hand.

Arsenal: Almunía, Sagna, Campbell, Vermaelen, Clichy, Alex Song, Diaby, Nasri (Denilson 72), Arshavin (Walcott 76), Rosicky (Eboué 56), Bendtner.

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Nuno André Coelho (Rodríguez 46), Ruben Micael (Guarín 75), Raul Meireles, Varela (Mariano 75), Hulk, Falcao.

After the game,
Jesualdo Ferreira, whose job now looks to be on the line, had this to say: "There are games that aren't easy to explain. We were never fortunate at different points in the game. From the moment we conceded the first goal, we were obliged to go looking for goals ourselves. We didn't shut up shop, and we didn't let Arsenal dominate; they always capitalised on our mistakes. It's a bad result and it isn't a fair one, given what Porto did. The first goal was offside, and from that moment on, there were individual mistakes that took away the calm and confidence that the team showed in the opening minutes. Whenever Porto began to level out play, they conceded a goal. [...] I didn't make wholesale changes at half-time because the way the game was going, we thought we would be able to score. We knew we would be taking risks, and that's what happened. Arsenal are a strong team and any mistake you make is going to end up as a goal. Today, all our mistakes did. Porto could have pulled goals back on three or four occasions, but it didn't happen and the team lost confidence. We ended up suffering a result that hurts us a bit."

09/03/10

FC Porto face Arsenal in London in the Champions League on Tuesday with a 'half-time' lead of 2-1. "Just a one goal lead, knowing that the away goal counts double, is very little to confer an advantage on the team that won the first leg." believes Porto coach Jesualdo Ferreira. "As such, we're going to face this game as if it were a new one, from the kick off. Our position is clear: we're going to fight for this tie.

Commenting on some recent bad results in the Portuguese league, Ferreira said: "When things don't go well sometimes, the best way to put it right is by playing. This is a game that's going to be down to difference of goals. It's different from the times we played Arsenal in the group stage."

"We know that we have to score goals here, and we believe that's what we'll do."

Arsenal's key player Cesc Fabregas will be out through injury: "Here and there, there may be changes when a key player is missing. But the fact that Fabregas will be out won't change the way that Arsenal play."

"We know that it will be difficult here at the Emirates, but we have weapons to fight for this tie."

"Last year we got to the quarter-finals, and we want to be there again. We're going to fight to our limits to make that happen."

"There's always a first time. This will be the sixth game against Arsenal. We've won two, lost two and drawn one. This is the first time we've been in a knockout tie with them; both resuts are possible."

"F.C. Porto have changed over the years, but Porto à la Porto have been seen many times under me, in the Champions League but not only, and I hope that it happens on Tuesday night. More than fighting in an uncoordinated way, we have to play. We have to use our capabilities on a tactical level."

(maisfutebol)

26/02/10

Sporting put in their best display of the season on Thursday to surprise an Everton side that had come from beating Manchester United in the Premier League. After a couple of shaky minutes, Sporting found their stride and kept to it until the final whistle. They threatened Howard's goal on four minutes, Moutinho and Liedson combining to give Izmailov a chance that the Everton 'keeper got down to well. On 16, Moutinho, back in top form after a lean spell, hit the bar from a free kick. Everton had the ball in the net through Senderos from a Baines free kick, but it was ruled out for offside. It was Everton's only real chance in the first half, but while Sporting were dominating with dynamic, aggressive and objective football, they were not getting the goal that would off-set the 1-2 defeat at Goodison Park.

The second half started with much of the same. Sporting's best chance came on the hour, Abel feeding Moutinho who saw his close-range shot stopped by Howard's legs. Then Sporting coach Carlos Carvalhal made an important change, taking off Grimi and sending Saleiro on. Pienaar frightened sportinguistas with a curling shot that drifted wide, but then on 64 minutes, Yannick touched the ball to Saleiro and the sub's pin-point through pass found Miguel Veloso who squeezed the ball between Howard and the near post.

Sporting were now in the lead over the two legs, and it was expected that Everton would come back with everything they had; but Sporting did not let them. Everton did have a remote penalty shout turned down, Saha apparently tripping on the turf, and Rui Patrício had to make an excellent save from Pienaar on 74 minutes. But a minute later, Izmailov was insistent on the right, and the ball fell for Pedro Mendes whose crisp shot from the edge of the box was deflected off Jagielka and in. Everton's play became increasingly desperate, their attacks soaked up by a now super-confident Sporting. Deep into added time, Yannick found Matias Fernandez and the Chilean midfielder beat a defender and Howard to tap the ball in. It was the cherry on a veritable gateau of a performance from Sporting.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Tonel, Carriço, Grimi (Saleiro 63), Pedro Mendes, Miguel Veloso, João Moutinho, Izmailov (Matias Fernandez 89), Yannick Djaló, Liedson (Polga 92).

Everton: Tim Howard, Phil Neville, Yobo, Senderos (Jagielka 52) Baines, Bilyaletinov (Rodwell 62) Osman, Arteta, Piennar, Donovan (Yakubu 73), Saha.

Sporting now face Atlético Madrid in the last 16, while neighbours Benfica face Olympique de Marseilles.

After this week's Europa League games, Portugal guaranteed that in the 2011/2012 season there will be six clubs in the UEFA competitions. Benfica and Sporting's wins and qualification for the last 16 coincided Holland and Turkey's clubs being knocked out, meaning that Portugal are 9th in the rankings and cannot be caught. Portugal will have only five clubs in Europe next season.

UEFA Rankings

1. England 77,713 points
2. Spain 76,043
3. Italy 61,910
4. Germany 60,207
5. France 51,573
6. Russia 43,125
7. Ukraine 39,550
8. Romania 39.491
9. PORTUGAL 36,962
10. Holland 36,546
11. Turkey 34,450
12. Greece 29,899

24/02/10

After drawing the first leg of their Europa League tie in Germany 1-1, Benfica disposed of Hertha Berlin in the return at a rain Luz on Tuesday, beating the team that is bottom of the Bundesliga 4-0.

The result began to take shape on 25 minutes, Aimar doing a 1-2 with Saviola before knocking the ball in. The aggregate result was still up in the air, and Hertha came out after the break strongly, but on 49 minutes Benfica scored the killer goal, Di Maria taking the ball down the left and crossing for Cardozo to head home. It was virtually plain sailing from there on in: on the hour, Javi Garcia netted after an Aimar corner was not cleared by the Hertha defence, and two minutes later, Di Maria once again fed Cardozo who controlled the ball on his chest before scoring.

Benfica: Júlio César, Fábio Coentrão, Luisão, David Luiz, Maxi Pereira, Ruben Amorim, Javi García, Aimar (Carlos Martins 65), Di María (Nuno Gomes 73), Óscar Cardozo, Javier Saviola (César Peixoto 68).

Hertha Berlin: Drobný, Kringe, Friedrich, Bergen, Piszczek (Pekcinovic 72), Cícero, Janker, Ebert, Raffael (Wichniarek 63), Nicu, Ramos (Gekas 63).

19/02/10

Benfica started well in their Europa League first leg at Hertha Berlin on Thursday, and on four minutes were in front. Carlos Martins, starting in place of Aimar, launched a perfect long pass from inside his own half into the path of Di Maria, and the Argentinian winger collected it perfectly to knock it past Drobny. Benfica could have used the goal as a trampoline to a comfortable win, but they seemed to slip immediately into complacency mode against the team that is at the bottom of the German first division. On 33 minutes, Hertha equalised, Nicu crossing from the right for Javi Garcia to divert the ball past his own 'keeper.

Seven minutes into the second half, Ramires appeared to be brought down in the area, but no penalty was given. Benfica began to ride their luck. On 52 minutes, Nicu beat Benfica's risky off-side trap and placed the ball perfectly … against Júlio César's left-hand post. A minute later, Ebert shot for César to dive to his right and save. From looking crisp and focussed in the first 15 minutes, Benfica descended to the point where, on 64 minutes, Aimar, Saviola and Cardozo went for the same ball, 'passed' erroneously into space by a Hertha defender, and conspired to send it over the bar.

The result was a good one for Benfica on paper, especially in Germany, but does not guarantee them anything for the second leg.

Hertha: Drobny, Piszcek, Friedrich, Von Bergen, Kobiaschwili, Nicu (Kringe 61), Janker, Cícero, Ebert, Raffael (Gekas 88), Ramos.

Benfica: Júlio César, Ruben Amorim, Luisão, David Luiz, César Peixoto, Javi Garcia, Ramires (Felipe Menezes 63), Carlos Martins (Pablo Aimar 63), Di Maria, Saviola (Miguel Vítor 83), Cardozo.

18/02/10

FC Porto beat Arsenal 2-1 in their last-16, first leg match at the Dragão on Wednesday. It was a bold Porto that took to the field, with Hulk returning to the starting line-up after 59 days due to suspension from domestic games. Porto dominated the opening minutes and went ahead on 11, Varela skinning Clichy on the right and sending in a cross that deceived Fabianski and found the net. Arsenal reacted well with their typical quick passing game and within seven minutes were level. A Fabregas corner from the left was met at the near post by Vermaelen, his header flew to the back post, Rosicky headed it back into the heart of the goal, and Campbell headed in.

Arsenal were in control in the second half, but six minutes in lost their heads: Campbell passed back to Fabianski, who picked the ball up. The referee blew for an indirect free-kick, Rúben Micael took it quickly and Falcao tapped the ball in, with the Arsenal defence nowhere. Arsenal's players and their manager Arsène Wenger were incensed, but the goal stood, and Porto take a narrow lead to London.

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Ruben Micael, Fernando, Raul Meireles (Tomas Costa 67), Varela, Falcao, Hulk (Mariano 80).

Arsenal: Fabianski, Sagna, Sol Campbell, Vermaelen, Clichy, Diaby, Denilson, Fabregas, Rosicky (Walcott 67), Bendtner (Vela 82), Nasri (Eboué 87).

17/02/10

Sporting left themselves with a chance of going through to the last 16 in the Europa League after losing 1-2 at Everton on Tuesday. It was a brighter Sporting than of late that entered the game, soaking up Everton's pressure and constructing play of their own. They had goalkeeper Rui Patrício to thank for keeping them in the game on eleven minutes with a double save from Saha and Osman. But he could do nothing on 35 minutes as Cahill backheeled into the path of Pienaar, who swept the ball despite the challenge from Carriço. Before the break, the Lisbon side had two good chances to equalise, Izmailov crossing for Pedro Mendes to shoot low on 37 minutes, with Howard diving to his right to save, and Izmailov hitting the right-hand post two minutes later.

Sporting came out in the second half transformed for the worse. They looked sluggish and disjointed, and Everton took quick advantage of their early control four minutes in: Baines sent over a corner, Rui Patrício flapped at the ball under pressure from Cahill, and the ball fell for Distin, hitting him on the thigh and bouncing fortunately in. going on Sporting's recent form, the two-goal disadvantage could have been just the starting point for a total collapse, but twenty minutes in, coach Carvalhal made two significant substitutions, bringing on Saleiro and Yannick Djaló, and it was the latter who had the most influence on Sporting's game, lending it a dangerous touch of dynamism down the left. But it was in fact through the centre that Sporting managed to construct their goal. On 85 minutes, Distin got caught in possession by Liedson who ran goalwards. Distin lumbered after him and brought him down just inside the box. The French centre back saw a red card, and Miguel Veloso calmly stroked the spot kick in to give Sporting a fighting chance in the return leg.

Everton: Howard; Neville, Distin, Yobo e Baines; Osman, Arteta (Rodwell, 77); Donovan, Cahill(Yakubu, 61) e Pienaar; Saha (Bilyaletdinov, 82).
Suplentes: Nash, Bylialetdinov, Vaughan, Gosling, Yakubu, Rodwell, Coleman

Sporting: Rui Patrício; Abel, Tonel, Carriço e Grimi; Pedro Mendes, Miguel Veloso; Moutinho (Djaló, 65), Matias (Saleiro, 67), Izmailov; Liedson
Suplentes: Tiago, Polga, Adrien, Saleiro, Vukcevic, Djaló, Pereirinha

19/12/09

The Champions League draw in Nyon, Switzerland, on Friday saw FC Porto being drawn to play Arsenal in the last 16. The two clubs meet in the CL for the third year running, but for the first time in the knockout stages. Two years ago, Porto lost 0-2 in London and drew 0-0 in Porto. Last year, Porto lost 0-4 away and won 2-0 in the Dragão.

The first leg will be in Porto on 17 February, the second in London on 9 March

Benfica and Sporting exchange opponents for their last-32 ties in the Europa League: Benfica play Hertha Berlin, while Sporting meet Everton. In both ties, the Portuguese sides will have the benefit of playing the second leg at home. The first leg will be played on 17 February, the second on 24 February.

Benfica beat Everton 5-0 in Lisbon and 2-0 in Liverpool in the group stage, while Sporting beat Hertha 1-0 in Lisbon and lost by the same margin in Germany.

If both clubs get through, Sporting will play the winner of Atlético Madrid v Galatasaray, while Benfica will meet either FC Copenhagen or Marseilles. Those games would take place on 10 and 17 March.

18/12/09

Benfica beat AEK Athens 2-1 in their last group game of the Europa League on Thursday. The Lisbon giants started with just one regular: Di Maria. And it was the Argentinian winger that was to prove decisive. Just before the break he pushed forward and unleashed a shot that dipped and bounced in front of Saja before nestling in the side netting. Then in the second half, he chipped Saja on 53 minutes, only to see the ball bounce off the bar. But on 73 minutes, he got Benfica's second with a shot 'de letra' (hitting the ball from behind the supporting leg).

However, it was Di Maria that let AEK back into the game on 83 minutes with a flashy pass that went wrong in midfield, Georgeas picking up the ball before making the line and crossing for Blanco to score. But Benfica, already qualified anyway, managed to hang on to take all three points from the game.

Benfica: Júlio César, Luís Filipe, Roderick, Miguel Vítor, Shaffer, Felipe Menezes (Javí Garcia 65), Carlos Martins, Fábio Coentrão (César Peixoto 46), Di María, Nuno Gomes (Cardozo 72), Weldon.

AEK: Saja, Araújo, Majstorovic (Jahic 46), Geraldo, Georgeas, Gentzoglou, Makos (Nsaliwa 46), Kafes, Manduca (Iordache 77), Hersi, Blanco.

In the other Group I game, BATE beat Everton 1-0 in Liverpool.

1. Benfica 15 points/ 6 games
2. Everton 9/ 6
3. BATE Borisov 7/ 6
4. AEK 4/ 6

17/12/09

Ater losing at 0-1 home to União de Leiria at the weekend, Sporting lost 0-1 again on Wednesday, this time at Hertha Berlin in the last game of Group D of the Europa League . Sporting, already qualified for the last 32, had only their pride and the win money to play for, they achieved neither with yet another pale display. One excuse might be that they had left key players like Izmailov and Liedson at home, but that cannot tell the whole story; they were playing against the team that is bottom of the German first division, with only one league win all season.

The singe goal that gave Hertha the points came on 70 minutes and was, perhaps inevitably, the fruit of poor defending, with Kacar appearing at the back post to score almost accidentaly with his thigh after a cross from the right had sailed unstopped across the face of the goal.

Hertha: Drobny, Piszcyek, Janker, Von Bergen, Pejcinovic, Kacar, Berger, Wichniarek, Nicu, Ramos, Cícero

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Pedro Silva, Tonel, Carriço, Grimi, Adrien, Pereirinha, Moutinho, Matias, Izmailov, Saleiro

The only bright point for Sporting was that they qualified as group leaders, Hertha joining them in the next round. In the other Group D game, Heereenven thrashed Ventspils 5-0, but the result came too late to save the Dutch side.

1. Sporting 11 points/ six games
2. Hertha 10/ 6
3. Heerenveen 8/ 6
4. Ventspils 3/ 6

The other Portuguese side in action in the Europa League on Wednesday was Nacional, who handed out a 5-1 drubbing in Group L to Austria Vienna in Madeira. Austria were in front on 22 minutes with a goal that illustrated Nacional's defensive frailties in this competition, Nuno Pinto inexplicably ducking to allow a cross from the left to reach a grateful Schumacher. But two minutes later, Mateus made the line on the left and cut the ball back for Ruben Micael to score. Mateus himself was put through on goal on 33 minutes and prodded in from the edge of the box. Ten minutes into the second half, Pecnik put Ruben Micael through for his second, his seventh in the Europa League. Tomasevic and Felipe Lopes both headed in on 60 and 66 minutes respectively to finish off a fine perfomance from Nacional in what was Pedrag Jokanovic's first game in charge.

Nacional: Bracali, Patacas, Felipe Lopes, Tomasevic, Nuno Pinto, Leandro Salino, Halliche, Ruben Micael (Pedro Melo 78), Edgar (Amuneke 68), Pecnik (João Aurélio 59), Mateus.

Austria Vienna: Almer, Vorisek, Bak, Ortlecher, Suttner, Baumgartlinger, Klein, Junuzovic, Acimovic, Diabang (Topic 73), Schumacher (Hattenberger 66).

Nacional avoided coming bottom of the group, and the feeling remained that they could have done better in this competition had it not been for some naïve errors in earlier matches. In the other Group L game, Werder Bremen won 3-0 at Athletic Bilbao, both clubs going through.

1. Bremen 16 points/ 6 games
2. Athletic Bilbao 10/ 6
3. Nacional 5/ 6
4. Austria Vienna 2/ 6

09/12/09

FC Porto put in what coach Jesualdo Ferreira called "the best performance in the Champions League this season" and what for captain Bruno Alves was "an almost perfect exhibition" to beat Atlético Madrid 3-0 away. It was a victory built on a strong first 15 minutes from Porto and a very confident management of the lead for the rest of the game. Bruno Alves charged in from the edge of the area and rose above everyone to head in a Raul Meireles corner on two minutes. On 14, Fucile shot low from way out on the right, Asenjo could only parry the ball and Falcao was on hand to bundle it into the net. Then fifteen minutes from time, the goal of the game saw Guarín touch a delicate through ball to Hulk, who turned his marker inside out before cracking a shot into the top left-hand corner.

Atlético Madrid: Asenjo, Valera(Antonio Lopez 45), Parea, Juanito, Dominguez, Cléber Santana, Paulo Assunção, Maxi Rodriguez (Reyes 66), Simão, Aguero (Jurado 46), Forlan

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Maicon (Sapunaru 58), Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Valeri (Guarin 61), Fernando, Raul Meireles, Rodriguez, Hulk, Falcao (Varela 68)

Porto go through in second place in Group D behind Chelsea, who drew 2-2 at home to Apoel. Atlético finished in third place and go into the Europa League.

1. Chelsea, 14 points
2. FC Porto, 12
3. Atlético Madrid, 3
4. Apoel, 3

04/12/09

Sporting needed just a point from their Group G home game against Heerenveen to qualify for the last 32 of the Europa League, but they made very hard work of it. Heerenveen's most dangerous player Assaidi stole past Pedro Silva just after the break to put the Dutch side in front, and Sporting's shooting was wayward: Liedson missed a couple that normally he would have buried. But he did supply the lay-off to Grimi in added time for the Argentinian full back to put Sporting through.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Pedro Silva, Daniel Carriço, Polga, Caneira (Grimi 46), Matías Fernandez (Izmailov 46), João Moutinho, Adrien, Miguel Veloso, Hélder Postiga (Caicedo 78), Liedson.

Heerenveen: Vandenbussche, Breuer, Bak Nielsen, Dingsdag, Popov, Grindheim (Vayrynen 71), Elm, Losada, Beerens, Assaidi (Elyounoussi 84), Papadopulos (Paulo Henrique 79).

In the other Group G game, Hertha Berlin won 1-0 at Ventspils. It will be between them and Heerenveen to see who goes through to the last 32 with Sporting.

Group G

1. Sporting 11 points / 5
2. Hertha Berlin 7/5
3. Heerenveen 5/5
4. Ventspils 3/5

Nacional are definitively out of the Europa League after going down 1-4 at Werder Bremen. Rosenberg got two on 31 and 34 minutes, Ruben Micael gave Nacional a chance on 61 but then goals from Moreno and Marin on 84 and 92 respectively gave Nacional the over and out.

Werder Bremen: Mielitz, Fritz, Prodl, Mertesacker, Pasanen, Frings, Hunt (Borowski 46), Jensen, Niemeyer (Marin 79), Moreno, Rosenberg

Nacional: Bracali, Patacas, Felipe Lopes, Cléber, Tomasevic, Luís Alberto, Leandro Salino (Anselmo 87), Pecnik, Rúben Micael, Mateus, João Aurélio (Amuneke 74)

Athletic Bilbao join Werder; they beat Austria Vienna 3-0 away.

Group L

1. Werder Bremen 13 points / 5
2. Athletic Bilbao 10/5
3. Nacional 2/5
4. Austria Vienna 2/5

03/12/09

Benfica are through to the last 32 of the Europa League after beating BATE Borisov 2-1 in Bielorussia on Wednesday. BATE had the best chance in the first half, Krivets hitting the post from a free kick, but it was Benfica who went in front, Saviola finishing off an excellent move down the left, Fábio Coentrão cutting the ball back for the Argentinian striker. It was Saviola who did a one/two with Coentrão for the Portuguese international to put Benfica two-up on 62 minutes. But then on 68 minutes, Miguel Vítor put through his own goal (the ball hit him in the face before creeping in beyond Júlio César's desperate grasp) to leave the result up in the air until the end.

BATE Borisov: Veremko, Yurevich, Radkov, Sosnovski, Bordachov, Volodko, Likhtarovic, Pavlov, Krivets, Nekhaychik, Rodionov.

Benfica: Júlio César, Maxi Pereira, Miguel Vítor, David Luiz, César Peixoto, Ramires, Javi Garcia, Felipe Menezes, Fábio Coentrão, Saviola, Óscar Cardozo.
Benfica are joined by Everton, who beat AEK 1-0 in Athens.

Group I

1. Benfica 12 points / 5
2. Everton 9/ 5
3. BATE Borisov 4/ 5
4. AEK 4/ 5

26/11/09

FC Porto lost 0-1 at home to Chelsea in the penultimate group game of Group D of the champions League on Wednesday, allowing the London club to clinch top spot in Group D. Porto gave Chelsea the run of the Dragão early on but soon took control. Hulk was benched and the team as a unit benefited, with the returning Varela and especially Belluschi helping to create coherent, incisive play, and it was the Portuguese champions that also caused the most danger in front of goal in the first half: on 20 minutes, Cech had to produce a superb double save to keep out shots from Belluschi and Falcão, and on the half-hour, Belluschi dipped a shot over Cech from 25 metres, but the bar saved the Chelsea goalkeeper. At the other end, Deco, well received by the Porto fans, and Anelka came close but without causing Beto, in for Helton, any real trouble.

In the second half, as Porto legs began to tire, Chelsea began to dominate. Porto's cause was not helped by the exit of Varela, who had done sterling work all along the right-hand corridor, to be replaced by Hulk who is a much more individualistic player; Porto's organisation suffered, and on 69 minutes, it was down Porto's right-hand side that Chelsea scored their goal. Zhirkov, freed of Varela's marking, fed Malouda and his cross was headed in from close range by a curiously unmarked Anelka. Chelsea were well in control of play by end, but there was still time in the last ten minutes for Rodriguez to head over from a Hulk cross and for a Farias shot to be saved by Cech.

Porto coach Jesualdo Ferreira will need to have a good long think about how his team play with and without Hulk – the Porto of the first half here worried Chelsea; the Porto of the second half rolled over and let Chelsea tickle its tummy.

FC Porto: Beto, Sapunaru (Farías 78), Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Belluschi (Guarín 71), Fernando, Raul Meireles, Varela (Hulk 59), Falcao, Rodriguez.

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, John Terry, Ricardo Carvalho, Zhirkov Ballack (Essien 68), Obi Mikel, Deco (Joe Cole 76), Malouda, Drogba, Anelka.

In the other Group D game, Atlético Madrid drew 1-1 at Apoel Nicosia.

Group D standings:

1. Chelsea, played 5/13 points
2. FC Porto, 5/9
3. Atlético Madrid, 5/3
4. APOEL, 5/2

In the last game of the group, Porto visit Atlético while Apoel visit Chelsea.

25/11/09

FC Porto will be without goalkeeper Hélton, recovering from an injury sustained in the recent Liga match against Marítimo, for their penultimate Champions League Group D game on Wednesday, at home to Chelsea. Replacing him will be either Beto or Nuno Espírito Santo. Also out are left back Fucile, a technical option of coach Jesualdo Ferreira, and Mariano, suspended. Both clubs have already qualified for the knockout stages.

Porto's squad:

Goalkeepers: Beto, Nuno.

Defenders: Bruno Alves, Rolando, Álvaro Pereira, Sapunaru, Maicon.

Midifelders: Raul Meireles, Guarin, Belluschi, Valeri, Tomás Costa, Fernando.

Forwards: Falcao, Cristian Rodriguez, Hulk, Varela, Farias.

06/11/09

Sporting drew 1-1 with Latvian side Ventspils at Alvalade on Thursday, once again putting in a grey performance that did not please the sportinguistas at the Alvalade XXI. They were behind to a Zamperini goal on 15 minutes but drew level just six minutes later, Saleiro heading in after Vukcevic had clearly handled. The game went tepid after that point, although Sporting did have chances to wrap up their qualification in the second half, chances that were not taken.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Pedro Silva, Carriço (Grimi 52), Tonel, André Marques (Angulo 45), Miguel Veloso, João Moutinho, Vukcevic (Hélder Postiga 73), Matías Fernandez, Saleiro, Liedson.

Ventspils: Kolinko, Mihadjuks, Zamperini, Ndeki, Hodel, Kosmacovs, Chirkin, Tigirlas, Laizans, Zigajevs (João Martins 49), Gauracs (Butriks 70).

In the other
Group D game, Hertha Berlin won 3-2 at Heerenveen. Sporting are clear top and look sure to qualify for the next round.

Standings:
1. Sporting, 4 games /10 points
2. Heerenveen, 4/4
3. Hertha, 4/4
4. Ventspils, 4/3

Benfica made it a 7-0 aggregate score over Everton after beating them 2-0 at Goodison Park. In an even first half, it was Benfica who came nearest, Cardozo heading against the post. They were in front on 63 minutes, Saviola insisting after a pass from Di Maria. And they confirmed top spot in the group on 76 minutes when Cardozo delicately placed his shot past Howard's left hand.

Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Distin, Yobo, Baines, Rodwell, Goslin (Jô 68), Bilyaletdinov, Fellaini, Cahill, Yakubu (Agard 80m)

Benfica: Júlio César, Rúben Amorim, Luisão, Sidnei, David Luiz, Javi Garcia, Di María, Fábio Coentrão (Aimar 60), Ramires (Maxi Pereira 45), Saviola (Felipe Menezes 86), Cardozo.

In the other Group I game, AEK and BATE drew 2-2.

Standings:
1. Benfica, 4 games / 9 points
2. Everton, 4/6
3. BATE, 4/4
4. AEK, 4/4

Nacional and Athletic Bilbao drew 1-1 in Madeira. Bilbao came closest to scoring in the first half when Llorente was through on goal but hit the post. Nacional were leading through Edgar Silva on 63 minutes after Pecnik had been brought down by the 'keeper Iraizoz, a penalty that had to be taken twice. But on 83, veteran forward Etxeberria equalised from the spot after an Halliche foul in the area. The goalkeepers Iraizoz and especially Bracali kept their sides in the game to the end. Nacional's Nuno Pinto was sent off for a second yellow ten minutes from time.

Nacional: Rafael Bracalli, Bruno Patacas, Felipe Lopes, Rafik Halliche, Nuno Pinto, Tomasevic (Cléber 45), Luís Alberto, João Aurélio (69), Nejc Pečcnik, Rúben Micael, Mateus (Leandro Salino 45), Edgar Silva

Athletic Bilbao: Gorka Iraizoz, Ustaritz, Fernando Amorebieta, Igor Gabilondo, Andoni Iraola, Carlos Gurpegi, Xabier Castillo, Javi Martínez (Pablo Orbaiz 71), Joseba Etxeberria, David López (Íñigo Díaz de Cerio 60) Fernando Llorente (Óscar de Marcos 40)

In the other
Group L game, Werder Bremen beat Austria Vienna 2-0. Nacional have just two points and need Bilbao to lose both of their remaining games to have a chance of going through. Werder have qualified.

Standings:
1. Werder Bremen, 4 games / 10 points (Qualified)
2. Athletic Bilbao, 4/7
3. Nacional, 4/2
4. Austria Vienna, 4/2

04/11/09

FC Porto clinched qualification for the last 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday, beating difficult APOEL 1-0 in Cyprus. It was another less-than-inspired performance by Porto, with many lost balls in midfield and limited ideas coming forward. But having said that, they were always in charge, except for an occasional burst from APOEL, invariably involving their most dangerous player Mirosavljevic. But five minutes from time, Porto got the goal that wins them an immediate three million euros for qualifying. Hulk on the left passed inside for sub Farías, who laid it off to Falção on the right, and the Colombian striker controlled it perfectly before coolly clipping a shot past Chiotis' right hand.

APOEL: Chiotis, Poursaitides, Kontis (Papathanasi 89), Joost Broerse, Marios Elia (Grncarov 58), Nuno Morais, Satsias, Jean Paulista (Alexandrou 61), Hélio Pinto, Charamlabides, Mirosavljevic.

FC Porto: Helton, Sapunaru, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Alvaro Pereira, Fernando, Raul Meireles, Guarín (Tomás Costa 83), Hulk, Rodríguez ( Farías 69), Falcão (Belluschi 90).

It is Porto's sixth time in the last 16 of the CL in its current form. With two games still to play, they are joined from Group D by Chelsea, who drew 2-2 at Alético Madrid.

23/10/09

In a whirlwind ten minutes at the beginning of the second half, Benfica blew away Everton at the Luz in the third game of the group stage of the Europa League. In front of a crowd of 44,500, including 6,000 or so Everton fans, Benfica went in front on 14 minutes, Di Maria crossing for Saviola to score. Everton will have thought they were in with a good chance as they limited Benfica to the one-goal lead at the break, but the home side were inspired early in the second and got three in an eight-minute period: Saviola crossed for Cardozo to tap in on 46, Di Maria crossed for the same Cardozo to head in on 48, and on 52, an Aimar corner was met by Luisão, whose header hit the ground and bounced in at the far post. Everton fans started leaving the stadium at that point, disappointed with their team's capitulation – although it must be said that the English side's squad was missing ten key players for various reasons. The early leavers missed yet another Benfica goal five minutes from time, Di Maria again crossing from the left for Saviola to get his second.

Benfica: Júlio César, Ruben Amorim, Luisão, David Luiz, César Peixoto, Ramires, Javi Garcia, Aimar (Carlos Martins 69), Dí Maria, Cardozo (Fábio Coentrão 77), Saviola (Weldon 84).

Everton: Howard, Gosling, Hibbert, Distin, Coleman, Rodwell, Fellaini, Cahill, Bilyaletdinov (Saha 60), Jô, Yakubu (Baxter 71).

In the other Group I game, Bate beat AEK 2-1. Benfica and Everton share top spot in the group.

1. Benfica played 3 / 6 points
2. Everton 3 / 6
3. Bate Borisov 3 / 3
4. AEK Athens 3 / 2

Sporting made hard work of beating Latvian side Ventspils away (1-2). They were in front with a Miguel Veloso goal scored directly from a corner after just five minutes and had chances to extend their lead, but their play became less and less incisive and Ventspils pulled one back on 63 minutes through Laizans from the spot after Tonel had needlessly brought down Gauracs. It needed a moment of inspiration from Sporting's diminutive captain João Moutinho to confirm their third successive win in the group stage: five minutes from time, he took his marker out in midfield with a sublime turn and unleashed an unstoppable shot from 25 metres that flew into the top right-hand corner of the net. Sporting have one foot in the last 32.

Ventspils: Kolinko, Chirkin, Mihadjuks, Zamperini, Ndeki, Hodel, Kosmacovs (Zigajevs 65), Butriks (Visnakovs 53), Laizans (Astafjevs 83), Tigirlas, Gauracs.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Tonel, Carriço, Grimi, Miguel Veloso, Moutinho, Vukcevic (Pereirinha 61), Matias (Angulo 79), Liedson, Caicedo (Postiga, 71).

In the other Group D game, Heerenveen beat Hertha Berlin 1-0 in Germany. Sporting top the group.

1. Sporting played 3 / 9 points
2. Heerenveen 3 / 4
3. Ventspils 3 / 2
4. Hertha 3 / 1

Nacional were in front at Atlétic Bilbao, but poor defending in the second half let in Etxeberria on 66 minutes and the always dangerous Llorente four minutes from time. Nacional had taken the lead just before the break through Ruben Micael.

At. Bilbao: Iraizoz, Iraiola, Ustarztz, Amorebieta, Castillo, Orbaiz, Yeste (Javi Martinez 46), Susaeta, Gabilondo (De Marcos 46), Etxeberria (Toquero 71), Lorente.

Nacional: Bracali, Patacas, Felipe Lopes, Halliche, Nuno Pinto, Cléber, Leandro Salino, Luís Alberto (João Aurélio 72m), Ruben Micael, Pecnik (Mateus 65m), Edgar (Clebão 79m).

In the other Group L game, Austria Vienna and Werder Bremen drew 2-2. Nacional are bottom of the group.

1. Werder Bremen played 3 / 7 points
2. At. Bilbao 3 / 6
3. Austria Vienna 3 / 2
4. Nacional 3 / 1

22/10/09

In the Champions League, FC Porto put in one of their lesser performances against Apoel Nicosia on Wednesday night at the Dragão, but they still managed the three points, despite being behind on 21 minutes when Álvaro Pereira turned a low cross into his own goal. On 33, justice was restored after Apoel lost the ball in midfield; Falcão picked it up and put a pass through to Hulk on his right who hit a cross shot past Chiotis' right hand. Porto were in front three minutes into the second half through Hulk again, the Brazilian striker sending Chiotis the wrong way from the spot after Elias had handled. A quarter of an hour from time, Mariano was sent off for lashing out at an opponent, but even in numerical inferiority, Porto were superior and held out.

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Bruno Alves, Rolando, Álvaro Pereira, Fernando, Raul Meireles (Sapunaru 92), Mariano, Rodriguez (Guarín 68), Hulk, Falcao (Farías 86).

Apoel: Chiotis, Elia, Grncarov, Broerse, Satsias (Papathanasiou 77), Michail (Alexandrou 59), Nuno Morais, Charalambides, Hélio Pinto, Kosowski (Breska 37), Miroslavjevic.

In the other
Group D game, Chelsea beat Atlético Madrid 4-0 on London. Chelsea and Porto look to be the favourites to qualify for the knockout stages.

1. Chelsea played 3 / 9 points
2. FC Porto 3 / 6
3. Atlético Madrid 3 / 1
4. Apoel 3 / 1

02/10/09

The three Portuguese clubs in action on Thursday in the Europa League all experienced different outcomes.

Sporting faced Hertha Berlin at Alvalade and despite a poor performance that brought whistles at the end from the dissatisfied crowd, the Lions won 1-0 to go clear top of Group D. Adrien, called into defensive midfield while Miguel Veloso switched to left back, was both hero and zero: on 18 minutes, his shot from 25 metres deflected wildly off a defender and past a flat-footed Burchert for the only goal of the game; then in added time, he saw a second yellow card and was sent off. Janker almost gave the German side a point near the end, put his shot pinged off a post.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Tonel, Daniel Carriço, Miguel Veloso, João Moutinho, Adrien, Matías Fernandes (Pereirinha 46), Vukcevic (Grimi 77), Liedson, Caicedo (Yannick 67).

Hertha: Burchert, Janker, Kaká, Von Bergen, Pejcinovic, Raffael, Kacar (Nicu 66), Dardai, César, Ramos (Piszczek 46), Wichniarek (Domovchiyski 79).

In the other Group D game, Ventspils and Heerenveen drew 0-0.

1. Sporting, 2 games/ 6 points
2. Ventspils, 2/ 2
3. Hertha Berlin, 2/ 1
4. Heerenveen, 2/ 1

After losing narrowly to Werder Bremen in the first game,
Nacional travelled to Vienna and brought back a well-deserved point from a 1-1 draw. The Madeiran side were in front on 34 minutes, Ruben Micael unleashing a rocket from a full thirty metres. But with increasing pressure from the Austrians, it was inevitable that they would draw level, and so it proved: on 64 minutes, Schumacher turned Cléber inside out before shooting under Bracali's body.

Austria Vienna: Safar, Ortlechner, Bak, Dragovic, Standfest, Vorisek (Jazunovic 45), Baumgarlinter, Klein (Sulimani 69), Acimovic, Diabang (Schumacher 61), Jun

Nacional: Rafael Bracali, Patacas, Felipe Lopes, Halliche (Pecnik 61), Tomasevic (João Aurélio 81), Leandro Salino, Cléber, Ruben Micael, Luís Alberto, Mateus (Amuneke 49), Edgar

In the other
Group L game, Werder continued their winning ways with a 3-1 victory over Altétic Bilbao

1. Werder Bremen, 2 games/ 6 points
2. Atlétic Bilbao, 2/ 3
3. Nacional, 2/ 1
4. Austria Vienna, 2/ 1

Benfica were the only Portuguese team to lose, going down 0-1 to AEK Athens. The giant Swedish defender Majstorovic beat Luisão and David Luíz to the ball on 42 minutes to head in from a corner. Benfica had had the best chance of the half, Di Maria's shot coming back off a post, but the team were losing gas as each minute passed. They still had enough chances to equalise in the second half, but an excellent display from AEK's goalkeeper Sebastián Saja kept them out with notable saves from Di Maria, Saviola, Cardozo and Fábio Coentrão. Georgeas was sent off five minutes from time for a second yellow.

AEK: Saja, Georgeas, Majstorovic, Arce, Juanfran, Kafes (Gentzoglou 68), Jahic, Hersi (Leonardo 77), Manduca, Scocco (Karabelas 87), Blanco.

Benfica: Júlio César, Maxi Pereira (Fábio Coentrão 58), Luisão, David Luiz, César Peixoto, Javi Garcia, Ramires, Aimar (Nuno Gomes 79), Di Maria, Cardozo, Saviola (Weldon 58).

In the other
Group I game, Everton won 2-1 at BATE Borisov

1. Everton, 2 games/ 6 points
2. Benfica, 2/ 3
3. AEK, 2/ 3
4. BATE Borisov, 2/ 0

01/10/09

FC Porto got their first win in the group stage of the Champions League, after a 0-1 defeat at Chelsea, against Atlético Madrid … their first win against Spanish opposition in ten years. In fact Porto were poor throughout, outclassed, especially in midfield, by an Atlético side coming from a poor start to their domestic season.

It looked like Atlético might be hindered by the injury to goalkeeper Roberto within half an hour, but his replacement De Gea was inspired and stopped everything coming his way … until the 75th minute when Hulk cut in from the right and fed Falcão in front of goal; his back-heel was reminiscent of the famous Madjer goal in the Final of the European Cup against Bayern Munich in 1987. The goal broke the back of Atlético's resistance, and Porto added another ten minutes from time, Bruno Alves heading against the post from a corner with Rolando following up to finish it off.

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Belluschi, Tomás Costa (Guarín 66), Raul Meireles, Mariano (Valeri 90), Falcao (Farias 87), Hulk.

Atlético Madrid: Roberto (De Gea 25), Ulfalusi, Pablo, Juanito, Perea, Paulo Assunção, Cléber Santana, Jurado (Reyes 79), Simão (Maxi Rodriguez 70), Aguero, Forlán.

In the other
Group D game, Chelsea won 1-0 at Apoel Nicosia, leaving the table looking like this:

1. Chelsea, 2 games/ 6 points
2. FC Porto, 2/ 3
3. Apoel, 2/ 1
4. At. Madrid, 2/ 1

18/09/09

Benfica won thir first game in Group I of the Europa League on Thursday, beating the Bielorussian side BATE Borisov 2-0. Nuno Gomes put the Eagles in front on 35 minutes from a cross by Maxi Pereira, returning to the side after injury. Five minutes later, the result was settled, Nuno Gomes feeding Óscar Cardozo for Benfica's second. Di María, Cardozo and Fábio Coentrão missed chances in the second half, and Júlio César kept BATE out near the end.

In the other Group I game, Everton beat AEK 4-0

Benfica: Júlio César, Maxi, Luisão, David Luiz, César Peixoto, Ramires, Javi Garcia, Felipe Menezes (Fábio Coentrão 60), Di María (Rúben Amorim 76), Nuno Gomes (Saviola 65), Cardozo.

BATE Borisov: Verenko, Yurevich, Rzhevski, Sosnovski, Bordachov, Krivets, Pavlov, Liktarovich (Volodko 64), Nekhaychilk, Skavysh (Goaryan 55), Rodionov (Alumona 81).

Sporting got off to a great start in Group D, beating Heerenveen 3-2 in Holland. the hero of the night was Liedson, back to his dazzling best with a hat-trick.

Sibon put the Dutch side in front with a header on 11 minutes, but Sporting were in front before the break with two goals from Levezinho. But they took their foot off the gas in the second half and allowed Heerenveen back into the game, Dingsdag scoring from a direct free kick way out on the right, with a quarter of an hour to go. The goal of the night was reserved for Liedson, though, clipping in a Moutinho cross at the near post on 87 minutes to give Sporting the three points and a handy 140,000 euros.

In the other Group $ game, Hertha Berlin drew 1-1 at home to Ventspils.

Heerenveen: Lejsal, Bak Nielsen, Breuer, Dingsdag, Popov (Elm 51), Grindhelm (Assaidi 72), Svec, Losada, Beerens, Sibon (Papadoupolos 85), Paulo Henrique.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Anderson Polga, Daniel Carriço, Caneira, João Moutinho, Miguel Veloso, Matias Fernandez (Angulo 82), Vukcevic (Tonel 89), Yannick (Hélder Postiga 62), Liedson.

Nacional started off with a defeat, but against German giants Werder Bremen. It was Nacional's defence which let them down.

On 39 minutes, Werder won a dubious penalty, Luís Alberto adjudged to have brought down Pizarro; Frings converted. On 55, Pizarro tapped in to make it 2-0 after Nacional had let Werder stroll forward. But the Madeiran side were back in the game with a goal on 67 minutes by Felipe Lopes from a corner and on 74 by Halliche from a free-kick. Then four minutes from time, the Nacional defence let man of the match Pizarro pick his spot to curl in the winner from the edge of the area.

In the other Group L game, Atlétic Bilbao beat Austria Vienna 3-0

Nacional: Bracali, João Aurélio, Felipe Lopes, Halliche, Welington (Tomasevic 46), Cléber, Salino (Amuneke 58), Luís Alberto, Ruben Micael, Edgar Silva, Pecnik (Mateus 46).

Werder Bremen: Wiese, Fritz, Mertesacker, Naldo, Boenisch, Marin (Niemeyer 73), Bargfrede, Frings, Borowski, Pizarro (Vander 89), Hunt

16/09/09

FC Porto lost their first game in Group D of the Champions League on Tuesday, going down 1-0 at Stamford Bridge. Porto gave as good as they got throughout, except for a short lack of concentration at the beginning of the second half when Chelsea got their goal through Anelka, who had two bites at the cherry to plant the ball past Helton from an angle. Fernando was sent off on the stroke of time for a second yellow, but could be replaced in the next game against Atlético Madrid by the Colombian Guarín, who returned to the team in London and put in an excellent performance.

In the other group D game, Atlético Madrid drew 0-0 with APOEL.

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Fernando, Raul Meireles, Guarin, Mariano (Falcao 54), Cristian Rodriguez (Varela 64), Hulk.

Chelsea: Petr Cech, Ivanovic, Ricardo Carvalho, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Ballack, Essien, Lampard, Malouda, Kalou (Belleti 77), Anelka.

28/08/09

The draw was made on Friday for the Europa League.

Benfica have Everton, AEK Athens and BATE Borisov, of Bielorussia:

1st jornada:
BENFICA-BATE Borisov, 17 September

2nd jornada:
AEK Atenas-BENFICA, 1 October

3rd jornada:
BENFICA-Everton, 22 October

4th jornada:
Everton-BENFICA, 5 November

5th jornada:
BATE Borisov-BENFICA, 3 December

6th jornada:
BENFICA-AEK Athens, 16 December

Sporting have Heerenveen, Hertha Berlin and Ventspils of Latvia.

1st jornada:
Heerenveen-SPORTING, 17 September

2nd jornada:
SPORTING-Hertha Berlin, 1 October

3rd Jornada:
Ventspils-SPORTING, 22 October

4th jornada:
SPORTING-Ventspils, 5 November

5th jornada:
SPORTING-Heerenveen, 3 December

6th jornada:
Hertha Berlin-SPORTING, 16 December

Nacional have the most difficult group of the Portuguese teams: Werder Bremen, Atletico Bilbao, and Austria Vienna:

1st jornada:
NACIONAL-Werder Bremen, 17 September

2nd jornada:
Austria Viena-NACIONAL, 1 October

3rd Jornada:
Athletic Bilbao-NACIONAL, 22 October

4th jornada:
NACIONAL-Athletic Bilbao, 5 November

5th jornada:
Werder Bremen-NACIONAL, 3 December

6th jornada:
NACIONAL-Austria Viena, 16 December

All three teams are guaranteed one million euros for qualifying for the group stage. Each club will receive 140 thousand euros for a victory and 70 for a draw. Qualification for the last 16 will bring another 200 thousand, while the quarter and semi-finals will mean 400 and 700 thousand ueros, respectively. The winner will receive two million euros, and the beaten finalist one million.

Portugal has been overtaken by Holland in the UEFA club rankings and is now 10th. The early exit of Sporting Braga and Paços de Ferreira, and Sporting's failure to qualify for the Champions League group stage, have not helped. The rankings are led by England, Spain and Italy.

The rankings of this year will have an effect on the number of teams in the European competitions in 2011/12. Next season, Portugal will have two teams in the Champions League and only three in the Europa League.

28/08/09

Nacional drew 1-1 at Zenit on Thursday, going through to the group stage of the Europa League on the away goal rule (4-3 in Madeira). It was an historic (aggregate) victory for the Madeiran side – and against the winners of the UEFA Cup two seasons ago. But it took an 89th minute goal from Rúben Micael, heading in a Leonardo Salino cross with the Zenit goalkeeper Contofalský out of position, equalising a Tekke goal on 34 minutes that had hit the bar and bounced down - the Nacional players had disputed it as not having gone in.

Starting line-ups:

Zenit: Contofalský, Anyukov, Fernando Meira, Kim Dong Jin, Lombaerts, Fatih Tekke, Shirokov, Zyryanov, Kornilenko, Semshov e Huszti
Subs: Malafeev, Križanac, Šírl, Hubocan, Rosina, Ignatovich, Ionov

Nacional: Rafael Bracali; Bruno Patacas, Halliche, Felipe Lopes e Wellington; Leandro Salino, Luís Alberto e Cléber; Rúben Micael, João Aurélio e Pecnik
Subs: Douglas, Abdou, Tomasevic, Nuno Pinto

Benfica are through too, despite losing 1-2 at Vorskla Poltava in Ukraine on Thursday (4-0 in the Luz last week). Coach Jorge Jesus made some changes to the 'first' team, which may go some way to explaining the team's ragged play. Poltava were also a much more aggressive side on the night, and were one up on 48 minutes through Sachko, after Moreira had come out for a cross and missed it. Saviola neatly finished off a free-kick on the hour to equalise, but Yesin gave the Ukrainian team victory on 73 minutes, once again from a cross on the right.

Poltava: Dolganskyy, Yarmash (Bezus 46), Medvediev, Dallku, Curri, Krasnoporov, Markoski (Chesnakov 89), Despotvski, Kulakov, Yesin, Sachko (Chychykov 72).

Benfica: Moreira, Luís Filipe, Luisão, Sidnei, David Luiz, Javi Garcia, Ramires (Rúben Amorim 71), Fábio Coentrão (Di Maria 63), César Peixoto, Nuno Gomes (Saviola 46), Keirrison.

FC Porto have a tough group in the Champions League, drawn on Thursday: Chelsea, Atlético Madrid and Apoel Nicosia.

Chelsea-F.C. Porto, 15 September
F.C. Porto-Atlético Madrid, 30 September
F.C. Porto-APOEL, 21 October
APOEL-F.C. Porto, 3 November
F.C. Porto-Chelsea, 25 November
Atlético Madrid-F.C. Porto, 8 December

27/08/09

Sporting are out of the Champions League after drawing 1-1 at Fiorentina; the first leg had finished 2-2, meaning that the Italian side go through to the group stage on the away goals rule.

Sporting, with seven Academy players starting (there would be eight on the pitch by the end) played some of their best football so far this season in the first half, taking the game to Fiorentina with confidence. They were also creating chances, notably when Liedson set up a sitter for Yannick Djaló, who sliced the ball wide; if it had been the other way round … Then on 34 minutes, Djaló was fouled 20 metres out and captain João Moutinho struck a perfect free kick beyond Frey's left hand. Fiorentina left the pitch at half time to frustrated whistles from their fans.

But if Sporting had dominated the first half, Fiorentina found themselves in the second, helped by irreverent young substitute Jovetic. On 53 minutes, Daniel Carriço cut out a cross from the right with his head, but the ball fell for Jovetic, who took Pedro Silva out with a little dummy and clipped the ball in at the near post. It was a massive psychological blow to Sporting, and their play disintegrated into a long-ball game. In the last ten minutes, central defender Tonel came on to add height to the front line, but Fiorentina's defenders were stopping everything that came their way, and there were no more chances worthy of note for Sporting.

Fiorentina: Frey, Comotto, Dainelli, Gamberini, Gobbi (Jovetic 45), Montolivo, Cristiano Zanetti (Donadel 80), Marchionni, Vargas, Mutu (Jorgensen 71), Gilardino

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Pedro Silva (Tonel 80), Daniel Carriço, Polga, André Marques, Miguel Veloso, Pereirinha, João Moutinho, Matias Fernandez (Saleiro 61), Yannick, Liedson

Sporting now go into the hat for the
Europa Cup group stage.

26/08/09

Sporting (Champions League), and Benfica and Nacional (Europa Cup), are all looking to qualify for the group stages of their respective competitions. Sporting have to turn around a 2-2 draw at Fiorentina on Wednesday, while Benfica will be coasting with a 4-0 cushion in Poltava, and Nacional will be seeking to hold onto a 4-3 lead at Zenit.

If Sporting reach the CL Group stage, they will automatically pocket 7.1 million euros. In the Group games, each victory is worth 800,000 euros, and a draw 400,000. Getting past the group stage means another automatic 3 million, plus 3.3 for getting to the quarter-finals, 4.2 for the semis and 5.5 for getting to the Final. Winning the competition with bring the victors another 3.5 million. (source: Maisfutebol)

21/08/09

Benfica have one and a half feet in the group stage of the Europa Cup after a 4-0 demolishing of Poltava at the Luz. They left it until the half hour to break the deadlock, Di Maria running onto a long through ball from Fábio Coentrão to guide the ball past the oncoming Dolganskyy. Then in a three-minute period early in the second half, Benfica broke the back of the Ukrainian resistance: Saviola was fouled in the box on 53 minutes and Cardozo crashed home the penalty, then on 56, Cardozo took the ball to the line on the right and cut back for Saviola to bundle in from five metres. Weldon, on as sub, got the fourth, finding himself free in front of goal after a defensive mix up.

Benfica: Quim, Ruben Amorim, Luisão, David Luiz, Shaffer, Javi Garcia, Di Maria, Aimar, Fábio Coentrão (Ramires 61), Saviola (César Peixoto 79), Cardozo (Weldon 74).

Poltava: Dolganskyy, Yarmash Grygoriy (Roman Besus 59), Gennadiy, Dalkku Armend, Curri Debatik, Oleg, Markoski Jovan (Chichikov 87), Desportovski, Kulakov Denys, Sachko Vasylj (Ahmed Januzi 45), Yesin Dmitry

Nacional also scored a famous victory at home to UEFA Cup holders Zenit. In an apparently thrilling game (cameras were excluded from the Estádio de Madeira), Nacional were two-up within 40 minutes through Luís Alberto (29) and João Aurélio (37). Semshov pulled one back just before the break, Rodrigo Silva restored the two goal advantage just after the break, Semshov reduced the lead again two minutes later, Ruben Micael made it 4-2 20 minutes from time and Fatih Tekke set the final score, 4-3, in added time.

Nacional: Rafael Bracalli, Patacas, Fernando Lopes, Wellington (Tomasevic 81), Cléber, Luís Alberto, Pecnik (Nuno Pinto 53), Rúben Micael, João Aurélio, Rodrigo (Guirassy 86), Leandro Salino.

Zenit: Malafeev, Anyukov, F. Meira, Lombaerts, Hubocan, Denisov (Ignatovich 76), Zyryanov, Shirokov, Semshov, Huszti (Rosina 57), Kornilenko (Fatih Tekke 68).

19/08/09

Sporting put in their best performance of the new season on Tuesday, but in the process seriously jeopardised their chances of proceeding in the Champions League with a 2-2 draw at home to Fiorentina in the play-off. Sporting's midfield were winning balls and constructing play, and they and the forwards had chances on goal. But the defence were guilty of several crass errors, and that plus a disastrous display from Hungarian referee and two moments of stupidity from Vukcevic mean that the Lions have to go to Florence and win or draw 3-3, or draw 2-2 to take it to extra time/penalties.

This was a different Sporting from the one dragging its heels in the pre-season games, in the CL qualifying legs against Twente and in last weekend's draw at Nacional. There was a dynamism about them, illustrated in the first minute by an aggressive attack which saw Moutinho's shot tipped over by Frey. But Sporting got a bucket of cold water in the face on just six minutes, when a cross-field ball found Vargas on the left, he skipped easily past Pedro Silva and shot low past Rui Patrício's left hand from outside the box.

Sporting's job might have been heped on ten minutes when Gamberini struck Liedson in the face after a tussle on the touchline, but the referee Viktor Kassai saw nothing wrong with it – or at least thought that it only deserved a yellow card. In the same incident Vukcevic saw a yellow for protests, a yellow that would prove crucial later on. Before the break Sporting, who creditably did not crumble, had two more chances through João Moutinho, saved by Frey, and Postiga, just past the post. The task did not seem like a hopeless one.

Early in the second half, the referee forgave Dainelli a second yellow for a clearly bookable foul on Moutinho, but he followed the rule book much more strictly on 58 minutes. Miguel Veloso, looking sharper than he has done for more than a season, shot from long range, the ball fell for Vukcevic about ten metres out and he calmly slotted the ball past Frey. In his celebrations, however, he tore his shirt off … and got a second yellow, leaving Sporting to soldier on for thirty minutes with ten men.

But the goal had lifted Sporting, and on 66 minutes, Liedson worked the ball across the face of the area, laid it off for Veloso and the midfielder's shot from 25 metres swung clear of Frey's right hand and into the top right-hand corner of the goal. Sporting had more chances to extend the lead, notably though an overhead kick by the improved Matías Fernandes and a close range shot from Liedson, who in better times would have buried it. But then a quarter of an hour from the end, Gilardino, near the penalty spot, controlled a long ball with his shoulder (!) while Anderson Polga looked on, and the Italian striker turned to place it calmly past Rui Patrício. The Sporting 'keeper kept Jovetic out with his legs four minutes from time, but that would have been overly harsh punishment for a Sporting side which, although nearer out than through in this competition, can take heart from the spirirt shown on the evening and possibly transfer that to their league form.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Pedro Silva (Pereirinha 56), Daniel Carriço, Polga, André Marques (Caneira 67), Miguel Veloso, João Moutinho, Vukcevic, Matías Fernandez, Liedson, Hélder Postiga (Yannick 80).

Fiorentina: Frey, Commoto, Gamberini, Dainelli, Gobbi, Montolivo (Donadel 79), Cristiano Zanetti, Macchionni, Mutu (Jovetic 62), Vargas, Gilardino

08/08/09

Sporting play Fiorentina on 18 and 26 August in the play-off for entry into the group stage of the Champions League. The first leg is at home.

Benfica will play Ukrainian side Vorskla Poltrava in the play-off round of the Europa Cup on 20 August, with the return on 27. The first leg is at the Luz.

Nacional meet Zenit of St Petersburg, also in the Europa Cup. The draw had the Madeiran side travelling first to Russia, but the order of the legs has since been reversed after negotiations between the two clubs.

07/08/09

After reaching the last 16 of the UEFA Cup last season, Sporting Braga fell at the first fence of the Europa Cup this, losing 2-0 at Elfsborg (4-1 on aggregate). Braga put a reasonable amount of pressure on the Elfsborg goal but were betrayed by weak defending: on 16 minutes, Karlsson cut a low ball back from the left for Keene to knock in with ease; on 32 minutes, Bajrami crossed low from the right for Keene to knock in … with ease.

The teams lined up:

Elfsborg: Covic, Karlsson, Lucic, Andersson, Mathias Florén, Daníelsson, Svensson, Ishizaki (Johansson 88), Mobäck, Bajrami (Nordmark 80), Keene (Avdic 77)

Sporting Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Frechaut, Rodriguez, Evaldo, Possebon (Kalaba 34), Vandinho, Mossoró (Paulo César 76), Alan, Meyong, Diogo Valente (Matheus 56)

Paços de Ferreira were also knocked out of the Europa Cup. Bringing a 0-1 deficit from Israel, they went down 0-1 'at home' (in front of 1649 spectators at Guimarães' Estádio D. Afonso Henriques) to Bnei Yehuda. Paços had most of the possession during the game but their finishing was poor, while Bnei Yehuda always threatened on the break. On the half hour, the Israeli team effectively clinched the tie with a goal from Atar, fed by Galvan.

The teams lined up:

Paços de Ferreira: Cássio, Filipe Anunciação (Carlitos 63), Ozeia, Kelly (Mário Rondon 72), Jorginho, Leonel Olímpio, Pedrinha, Baiano, Leandrinho (William 46), Cristiano, Romeu Torres

Bnei Yehuda: Aiyenugba, Iztik Azuz, Ivan Garrido, Din Mori, Kfir Edri, Maharan Radi, Abu Zaid, Liroy Zhairi (Sinisa Linic 74), Pedro Galvan (Omri Afek 66), Baldut, Elran Atar.

05/08/09

Sporting performed one of their greatest escapes on Tuesday, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat at Twente in their Champions League preliminary tie. Twente went in front after just one and a half minutes, Douglas rising comfortably to head in from a corner. The Dutch side sat back on their lead for the rest of the game, venturing forward only sporadically. Even so, they created more danger than an ineffectual Sporting, whose midfield lacked clarity and aggressiveness, and whose forwards, especially the normally sharp Liedson, were sluggish at best. And so the game trundled towards a Dutch victory until the last minute of added time. Sporting won a corner on the right, in desperation, goalkeeper Patrício loped up, and his presence forced the cross goalwards where Wisgerhof , trying to clear, prodded the ball past the unlucky Mihaylov for the away goal that gave Sporting the tie. It was a massive stroke of luck for Sporting, who had shown very little throughout, but was perhaps just punishment for a Twente side that had made caution their entire game plan after the second minute.

The teams lined up:

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Daniel Carriço, Polga, André Marques (Vukcevic 63), Yannick, Veloso, Moutinho, Matías Fernández (Pereirinha 45), Liedson, Hélder Postiga (Caicedo 63).

Twente: Mihaylov, Stam, Douglas, Wisgerhof, Rajkovic, Brama, Janssen, Stoch (Rukavytsya 78), Perez (Tioté 58), Ruiz (Vujicevic 90), Nkufo.

Sporting now go into Friday's draw for the Champions League play-off round. Presence in the group stage of the competition will be vital for Sporting's finances. The club has already made 2.23 million euros for getting this far.

Meanwhile, UEFA have confirmed that FC Porto will play in the Champions League this season. There was a doubt over Porto's presence following the domestic 'Golden Whistle'/'Final Whistle' case involving the alleged influencing of referees.

31/07/09

A poor and unfit-looking Sporting Braga got off to their Europa Cup campaign on the wrong foot on Thursday, and the campaign itself may be a short one after they lost 1-2 at home to Swedish side Elfsborg. Both Elfsborg's goals (Danielsson on 16 minutes and Bajrami on 73) came from outside the box and were teed up by poor headed clearances from Braga defenders. Braga's one goal was tucked in from the spot by Meyong five minutes into the second half. Braga need to win by two clear goals in Sweden on 8 August; on this showing, it will be a difficult job.

Sporting Braga: Eduardo, Frechaut, Paulão, Rodríguez, Evaldo, Alan, Fernando Alexandre (Yazalde75), Vandinho, Matheus (Diogo Valente 55), Meyong, Paulo César (Márcio Mossoró 61).

Elfsborg: Ante Covic, Daniel Mobaeck, Martin Andersson, Teddy Lucic, Johan Karlsson, Stefan Ishizaki (Joel Johansson 84), Helgi Danielsson, Anders Svensson (Denni Avdic 58), Emir Bajrami, Daniel Nordmark (Anders Wikstrom 68), James Keene.

30/07/09

Sporting could only draw 0-0 at home to FC Twente of Holland in the third preliminary round of the Champions League. Twente were first off the blocks and had a shaky Sporting pinned back for the first quarter of an hour or so. Sporting's first shot on goal was a low drive from Miguel Veloso on 18 minutes that drifted just wide, but it was an augury for better things ahead, at least in the first half. On 23 minutes, Boschker was slow off his line when Twente lost the ball in midfield, and Hélder Postiga ran on to be brought down by the keeper as he entered the area; a penalty and Boschker was sent off. But his replacement, Mihaylov, was in inspired form and besides keeping João Moutinho's penalty out also kept out Moutinho in the first half and Veloso and Liedson in the second with good saves. On the half hour, he was almost betrayed by Rajkovic, whose header crept past the post.

Sporting were on top after the penalty, but their pressure before the break did not pay off, and they had more problems in the second when Twente put their backs to the wall. Pedro Silva did hit the bar on 72 minutes with a cross/shot, but Twente also had the occasional chance, notably through Janssen, whose treacherous shot was flapped over by Rui Patrício on 75 minutes, and N'Kufo, who took the ball round the 'keeper in the 94th minute but just did not have the legs, and his weak shot went into the side netting.

There were whistles from the 37,000 Alvalade crowd at the end. The tie is not over yet, but Sporting will have an uphill struggle against this well-organised team in the return on 4 August.

The teams lined up:

FC Twente: Sander Boschker, Ronnie Stam, Douglas, Peter Wisgerhof, Slobodan Rajkovic, Wout Brama, Theo Janssen, Kenneth Perez (Nikolay Mihaylov 26), Miroslav Stoch (Cheik Tioté 74), Bryan Ruiz (Nikita Rukavytsya 61), Blaise N'Kufo.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Pedro Silva (Rochemback 77), Polga, Daniel Carriço, Caneira (Pereirinha 57), Miguel Veloso, João Moutinho, Vukcevic (Yannick Djaló 69), Matías Fernandez, Liedson, Hélder Postiga.

29/07/09

Paços de Ferreira lost the first leg of the third preliminary round of the Europa Cup on Tuesday, going down 0-1 at Bnei Yehuda of Tel Aviv. Atar, who had come on as sub just three minutes earlier, got the only goal on 55 minutes.

The teams lined up:

Bnei Yehuda: Aiyenugba, Edri, Mori, Garrido, Raly, Baldut (Afek 71), Radi, Zhairi, Abu Zhaid, Moshe Biton (Atar 52), Galván (Azuz 88).

Paços de Ferreira: Cássio, Ricardo, Ozéia (Leal 86), Kelly, Jorginho, Pedrinha, Filipe Anunciação, Leonel Olímpio, Baiano, Romeu Torres (Rondon 82), Leandro Barrios (Cristiano 62).

24/07/09

Paços de Ferreira are through to the third preliminary round of the Europa Cup after beating Moldovan side Zimbru Chisinau 1-0 (1-0 on aggregate) on Thursday. In front of just 1,658 people at Guimarães' D. Afonso Henriques stadium (Paços' Mata Real does not meet UEFA standards), Paços had most of the pressure and most of the chances, kept out only by an inspired Chirinciuc in the Zimbru goal. Forward Cristiano, on the wrong end of disciplinary action for returning late from holidays, came on as sub and got the only goal on 83 minutes, a placed shot from ten metres out.

The teams lined up:

Paços de Ferreira: Cássio, Filipe Anunciação, Ozeia (Manuel José 76), Ricardo, Kelly, Jorginho (Pedro Queirós 90), Leonel Olímpio, Pedrinha, Carlitos, Romeu Torres, Leandrinho (Cristiano 63).

Zimbru Chisinau: Chirinciuc, Andronic, Clonin, Erhan, Ternavschi, Hvorosteanov, Gheorge Andronic (Onila 71), Antoniuc, Demerji, Oleg Andronic, Sofroni (Sidorenco 60).

Paços will now play Bnei Yehuda of Israel in the third round; the first leg on Tuesday has been brought forward from Thursday because of a clash of games in Tel Aviv with Maccabi Netanya.

Meanwhile, Sporting Braga, who enter the competition at this stage, will face Swedish club Elfsborg on 30 July and 6 August.

12/07/09

Paços de Ferreira will play Zimbru Chisinau in the second qualifying round of the Europa Cup after the Moldovan side beat Kazakhstan's Okzhetpes Kokshetau 2-0 in the second leg of the first qualifier. OK had won the first leg 2-1. The trip to Moldova will cost half as much as Paços would have had to pay going to Kazakhstan, saving the club around 50,000 euros.

23/06/09

Paços de Ferreira will play either Zimbru Chisinau, of Moldova, or FC Okzhetpes, of Kazakhstan, in the second qualifying round of the new Europa Cup (which replaces the UEFA Cup). The tie will be decided on 16 and 23 July, with Paços' home leg being played at Vitória de Guimarães' stadium; Paços' Mata Real does not meet UEFA's standards.

Sporting Braga enter the competition in the third qualifying round, with Benfica and Nacional taking part in the play-offs.

 

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