Champions League

Champions League: Juventus vs. Porto Was a Brilliant Game for the Ages

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Fifteen years to the day Jose Mourinho famously upset Manchester United at Old Trafford, Juventus vs. Porto produced another Champions League game for the ages.

Having come out the first leg with a 2-1 lead at the Estádio do Dragão, Porto knew they needed a similar performance to get over the line. What followed next was the best game of this season’s UEFA Champions League.

Champions League: A Brilliant Showdown

Porto’s Mehdi Taremi and Juventus’ Alvaro Morata came close to grabbing the lead for their respective sides inside the first 15 minutes. Two minutes later, Taremi won a contentious penalty for Porto, and Sergio Oliviera stepped up to send Wolchiej Szczesny the wrong way.

Agustín Marchesín and Porto’s defenders did well to keep Juventus out in the first half, but the real drama arrived in the second. Three minutes after the break, Cristiano Ronaldo laid off Leonardo Bonnucci’s long ball to Federico Chiesa and the wide man thumped the leveler home to give the Italians a lifeline.

Andrea Pirlo’s Juventus sensed the tie was for the taking. The Bianconeri pressed and harried their Portuguese counterparts straight from kick-off. The match dramatically changed when Taremi received his second yellow card in the 54th minute.

Just like Robin Van Persie’s famous red card at the Camp Nou in 2011, Taremi continued to play after the referee had blown his whistle for a foul. The Iranian signaled he didn’t hear the call but with no fans in attendance, his protest was deemed invalid.

Two minutes later, Chiesa almost drew the tie level for Juventus but he was denied thanks to a brilliant, last-ditch tackle by Pepe. His 63rd minute goal however, did the trick. The overall scoreline now read 3-3 on aggregate.

Despite going down to ten men and facing an onslaught of Juventus attacks, Porto manager Sérgio Conceição motivated his players to keep attacking the Bianconeri. Marchesin denied Chiesa from rounding off the match in the 81st minute, and Juan Cuadrado cannoned the crossbar in the dying minutes of the half. Another thirty minutes was just what the doctor ordered.

As extra time got intense, the cards kept flying out of the referee’s pocket. Both Cuadrado and Sergio Oliviera picked up yellow cards early on for dissent, and that meant they will miss the next match of their respective side’s Champions League campaign. Both managers brought on substitutes to freshen up the match, as more drama ensued in the second half of extra time.

With six minutes left in the match and penalties looming, something had to give. Sergio Oliviera won himself a foul from a decent shooting position. This time, the Porto man stepped up to drill a powerful free-kick that easily beat Cristiano Ronaldo in the Juventus wall and left Sczezny helpless in goal. Porto players and staff went into ecstasy, but the drama didn’t stop there!

Less than two minutes later, Adrien Rabiot’s powerful header leveled the match at 4-4 but the home side still needed one more goal to advance. Marchesin produced a sprawling save at the death, and Porto held on to move on to the quarterfinals on away goals thanks to a spirited team performance. Juventus vs Porto was one of those Champions League matches that will live long in the memory.

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