Europa League watch: Porto win again
- Tue 24 Jan 2012, 10:29AM
- Posted by Alex Rowen
Porto claimed a 12th victory of their unbeaten campaign this weekend with a comfortable 3-1 win over Vitoria de Guimaraes.
City’s Round of 32 opponents are yet to taste a domestic defeat this season and will prove stiff opposition to the Blues in the next stage of the Europa League having won the competition last season.
Though sixth-placed Vitoria pulled one back just before the hour mark, the Estadio do Dragao faithful were sent into raptures by James Rodriguez’s penalty 13 minutes from time.
Having been tripped in the box, Rodriguez (below) slotted home from the spot himself in Hulk’s absence.
Despite Vitor Pereira’s side securing all three points, Benfica’s 3-1 victory over Gil Vicente means they continue to sit two points clear atop the Portuguese Primeira Liga. The meeting of the two sides in March could ultimately prove decisive.
For potential Round of 16 opponents Sporting Lisbon, however, domestic form continues to elude them.
Domingos Paciencia’s side have now won just one in six in a run that has seen them slip from competing for the title to clinging on to fourth place.
Having dropped to fifth following the weekend’s results, the Lions played out a goalless stalemate with middle-of-the-table Olhanese on Monday night to just about regain their Europa League qualification spot.
Quite why a win continues to evade Lisbon is anybody’s guess but the Portuguese giants now sit five points adrift of third placed Braga and the coveted Champions League qualification places and will be concerned that only goal difference separates them from fifth placed Maritimo, who are now unbeaten in three.
Legia Warsaw – the Blues’ other potential Europa League opposition – return from the Polish winter break with a Cup tie on 11 February.