Europa League - Quaresma stunner helps Porto past Napoli

Napoli 2 (Pandev 21, Zapata 90) Porto 2 (Ghilas 69, Quaresma 76) - Porto win 3-2 on aggregate.

Europa League - Quaresma stunner helps Porto past Napoli

View photo

Porto are through to the quarter-finals of the Europa League after a smash and grab aggregate win over Napoli in Italy.

Napoli were the better side for long spells of the game, and took the lead through Goran Pandev in the first half. However, despite the Italians' dominance, Porto scored two goals on the counter-attack, the first from substitute Nabil Ghilas, the second a screamer from Ricardo Quaresma, to seal a 3-2 aggregate victory, after Duvan Zapata grabbed a late consolation to make it 2-2 on the night.

The game started at a frantic pace, with both teams carving out good chances in the opening minutes. However, it was the hosts who created the best openings, with Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne in particular causing plenty of threat. Mertens created the first big chance of the game, nodding into the path of Henrique swept his shot wide. Insigne then had a good chance, but shot straight at Fabiano, however Napoli set a tone that they capitalised on shortly afterwards.

After a wonderful, patient build-up the ball was fed to Gonzalo Higuain, who slipped a delicate pass through to Pandev. The Macedonian forward latched onto the ball, drew Porto keeper Fabiano then flicked it over him and into the net.

Napoli continued their attacks after the break, but they were hit with two sucker punches in seven second-half minutes to knock them out. Firstly, a swift Porto counter-attack fed substitute Ghilas, after the referee had played a good advantage following a foul on Jackson Martinez, and Ghilas swept the ball home with a superb finish.

Then in the 76th minute, Quaresma danced around a couple of defenders on the edge of the area, shifted onto his left foot then fired a rocket into the top corner, giving Pepe Reina no chance.

Napoli continued to attack, but only had the late Zapata goal to show for their efforts.


PRE-MATCH - Porto keeper Helton will miss at least three months of action after rupturing his Achilles against Sporting at the weekend, while Alex Sandro serves a one-match ban. As a result, Fabiano plays in goal and Ricardo left-back.

14' - First big chance of the game for Napoli. After a long, patient build-up, Mertens nods the ball into Henrique's path at the far post, but his swept shot goes just wide.

21' - GOAL! NAPOLI GO IN FRONT! Lovely goal from Goran Pandev. A counter-attack sweeps down field, Higuain then holds the ball up and slips a perfect pass through to Pandev, who times his run wonderfully then clips it over Fabiano. Lovely, lovely stuff.

33' - PORTO GO CLOSE! A corner is swung over from the right, and Jackson Martinez gets up for the header at the far post and it goes just wide, with Reina scrambling.

38' - CHANCE FOR MARTENS! Higuain swings a ball over from the right and the Belgian hits it towards goal on the volley with the outside of his right foot, but it goes straight at Fabiano. He arguably had time to bring that one down.

69' - GOAL! GHILAS SCORES FOR PORTO! A huge goal against the run of play. Behrami fouls Martinez but the referee plays advantage, and the ball breaks through to the substitute Ghilas, who sweeps home a superb finish.

76' - GOAL! PORTO MAKE IT SAFE! What a goal. What. A. Goal. Quaresma, who has done little in the game, skips around a couple of challenges on the edge of the box, shifts onto his left foot and smashes the ball into the top corner.

90' + 2 - GOAL! ZAPATA PULLS ONE BACK! Hamsik does well on the right, fires over a low cross from the right and Zapata is there to force it home. 2-2 on the night.


Porto scored with just their second shot on target in the 69th minute.

Surprisingly, Porto had 56% possession, despite Napoli having 27 shots to their 10.

Napoli had 12 shots on target, to Napoli's three.


Eliaquim Mangala (Porto) - While Dries Mertens was at the centre of everything good that Napoli did, the reason most of his attacks failed was in the form of the Porto centre-back, who marshalled his defence superbly and blocked basically everything that came his way. It's no surprise that he is coveted by the biggest sides in Europe.


What was Rafa Benitez doing? Rafa Benitez was fond of a strange substitution when he was Liverpool manager, and he continued that in this game. Unless they were both injured, removing both Goran Pandev and Gonzalo Higuain were odd decisions, even if substitute Duvan Zapata did eventually score. It wasn't that bringing Zapata on was the wrong move, but more who was taken off.


Napoli: Reina 5, Henrique 6, Fernandez 5, Albiol 5, Ghoulam 6, Inler 6, Behrami 5, Mertens 8, Pandev 7, Insigne 7, Higuain 6; Subs: Callejon 5, Hamsik 6, Zapata 6.

Porto: Fabiano 7, Ricardo 7, Reyes 7, Mangala 8, Danilo 7, Fernando 6, Defour 6, Eduardo 5, Quaresma 6, Varela 6, Martinez 6: Subs: Josué 6, Licá 5, Ghilas 6.


View comments (1)