Why there's still hope for Porto in the Champions League
Porto may have fallen to defeat in the first leg of their Champions League tie against Roma, but the Portuguese outfit still have a lot going for them in their bid to qualify for the next round.
1. That crucial away goal
When the game went to 2-0, it looked all but over for Porto in the tie. With no away goals and a two-goal mountain to climb it looked like Porto were hanging on for dear life in the competition before the second leg had even begun.
It would have meant that had Roma scored at the Dragão, Porto would have required four goals to go through. Not impossible but seemingly unlikely.
However, that goal in the 79th minute from substitute Adrian Lopez gave Porto a huge boost, turning a poor defeat into a genuinely decent result.
They take significant hope back to Portugal with them now.
2. The second leg is at home
Of course it's a huge advantage to have your own supporters cheering you on as you look to secure victory. Even more so for a side with an impeccable home record.
They won all three of their Champions League matches in the group stage, while domestically they have won 9 of their 10 league home games this campaign. The Dragão is a bit of a fortress for Porto right now, which could make all the difference.
3. They did it without key players
The clash with Roma was always likely to be difficult, so when you add three important injuries/suspensions to the mix, it becomes even harder.
Missing Jesus Corona through suspension was tough to take, the Mexican in such exceptional form this season, particularly in the Champions League, while the absence of goal-machine Moussa Marega through injury was also clearly felt.
Marega followed fellow striker Vincent Aboubakar to the sidelines due to injury, and it meant Porto were without two of their trio of excellent striker options and Tiquinho Soares had to lead the line alone to fill the void.
It is promising, therefore, that Porto kept themselves well in the tie despite three significant figures forced out of the lineup.
4. The next leg is 3 weeks away
On the surface, you could think that Porto may have plenty of time to dwell on the result, what with the second leg being 21 days away, but it's a very busy month for the Portuguese champions, who will first have to play title-rivals Benfica in the league and Braga in the Portuguese Cup before facing off against the Italian again. A good chance to build up form and momentum.
And, with plenty of time until the next match, it means that not only will Jesus Corona be back for the second leg, but Brahimi, who was injured in the match against Roma, could also be back in time to help turn around the first leg deficit. That could be vital for Porto to beat Roma on the 6th March.
5. Roma haven't been at their best this season
While Roma got their victory against Porto in the first leg, 2-1 is a precarious scoreline, and their away record this season is less than spectacular.
In fact, Roma have only won 5 matches away from home across all competitions this campaign, against Chievo (who sit comfortably last in the Italian top flight), Empoli (17th), newly-promoted Parma and Torino in Serie A, while they narrowly toppled CSKA Moscow in Russia in the Champions League group stage.
Other than that though, they've failed to impress away from home, falling to a surprise 2-1 defeat to Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League, and a humiliating 7-1 loss to midtable Fiorentina in the cup.
and they weren't overly impressive against Porto either. While Porto themselves were average at best, they'll feel disappointed not to have got something out of the game, and will feel that they can beat Roma in the return leg.
It really is on a knife-edge.