FC Porto crash out of the Champions League on away goals
FC Porto will not be playing in this season’s Champions League group stage after a shock 2-3 home defeat to Krasnodar, sending them out on the away goal rule.
They had taken a 1-0 lead to Portugal after a last-gasp free-kick goal by Sergio Oliveira in Russia, putting themselves in control of the tie, but Krasnodar managed to turn the tie on its head in extraordinary fashion, beating the Primeira Liga runners-up 3-2 at the Dragao.
The result sees Porto drop directly into the Europa League group stage, joining fellow Portuguese outfit Sporting CP in Europe’s secondary competition. Braga and Guimaraes are also fighting to joing them in that continental competition.
Both Sporting and Porto will be in pot 1 for the Europa League group stage draw.
It is the first time since 2011 that Porto have failed to reach the Champions League group stage. That year, they also went directly to the Europa League, and went on to win the competition that season. Fans will be hoping that the same fortunes come to them this time around.
The result means that Benfica, who have qualified directly to the Champions League group stage thanks to their triumph in the Primeira Liga last season, will be in pot 2 of the group stage draw.
How did it happen?
Things went downhill fast for Porto. With fans feeling confident going into the game thanks to that late win in Russia, Porto’s away goal was rapidly cancelled out with Tonny Vilhena volleying home from a corner after just over 2 minutes of the game had gone. He had some poor Porto defending to thank for the goal.
The second goal was a well-worked counter-aatack. Porto, in search of a leveller, were pushing forwards. Krasnodar managed to win the ball back though, and after a swift counter-attack that result in 3-on-2 situation, Suleymanov tucked it beyond Marchesin in the Porto goal.
And things soon went from bad to worse for FC Porto, when another well-worked move by Krasnodar allowed Suleymanov to cut inside from the right flank, tucking the ball into the back of the net from the edge of the box.
Half time 0-3 to Krasnodar, and the teams went into half time to the sound of boos. Porto required three unresponded goals to make the Champions League proper, a seemingly thankless task.
Porto worked hard to turn the tie around after the break though, and grabbed the first goal on the hour mark, with Alex Telles’ delightful cross meeting the head of Ze Luis, who nodded home from close range.
That goal got Porto fans on their feet and believing in the comeback - and they had more to celebrate just 20 minutes later, when Luis Diaz slotted home from the edge of the box.
Porto needed just one more goals, and the fans were believing in an unlikely comeback - but it wasn’t to be. Despite the presence of Marega, Ze Luis, Aboubakar, Nakajima and Luis Diaz all on the pitch at the same time, Porto could not find that crucial third goal to put them head over two legs, and their Champions League contest came to an end before it had really begun.
It is also poor for the UEFA Coefficient rankings, with Portugal currently embroiled in a battle with Russia for 6th place in the rankings. Should Portugal leapfrog Russia, they will be awarded an additional Champions League berth. That, however, is looking more unlikely after Porto lost to their Russian counterparts.