A late Danilo penalty goal spared the blushes of visiting Portuguese giants FC Porto and allowed them a distinct advantage heading into the second leg after a 1-1 draw against FC Basel in their round of 16 Champions League encounter.
Porto would start off the game well in terms of possession but it was the Swiss side that struck first against the run of play as a sharp pass from Fabian Frei managed to connect with a streaking Derlis Gonzalez who managed to fight off Alex Sandro and Maicon in order to tip the ball past a charging Fabiano just 11 minutes in to give the home side the lead. The goal came at a high cost for the former Benfica B product as he was subbed off soon after from what looked to be concussion like symptoms from his clash with the Porto keeper.
The lion’s share of possession still belonged to Porto through the majority of the half and it would be a theme throughout the game. Porto’s first real chance came about when a well planned free kicked allowed Casemiro a decent headed opportunity at goal but it was easily handled by Basel goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik.
Controversy struck in the 34th minute, when Porto striker Jackson Martinez seemed to be dragged down in the area by Basel central defender Walter Samuel but match official Mark Clattenburg waved play on. A nervy first 45 minutes for the away side who held the majority of the possession but managed little end product in front of goal.
The second half started much like the end of the first with Porto applying plenty of pressure to the Basel back line and they thought they had found their equalizer when Casemiro managed to shoot past Vaclik after Basel were unable to deal with a Maicon header from a corner kick. After allowing the equalizer, Clattenburg would consult with his assistant and ruled the goal would not stand based on Jackson Martinez and Oliver Torres obstructing the keeper’s ability to deal with the Casemiro shot.
Continuing to pile on the pressure and Basel set on defending the breakthrough would come in the late stages of the game as substitute Ricardo Quaresma would lay off a pass to right back Danilo in the area who then attempted to cross the ball across goal but a sliding Samuel would hit the ball with his hand causing Clattenburg to point to the spot. While the decision may have been a harsh one on Samuel, the defender had tested his luck on numerous occasions throughout the match. Surprisingly, it would be Danilo to step up and take the penalty and a well hit strike left Vaclik no chance. The visitors had earned a very deserved goal based on the run of play with Basel’s only attempt on goal during the match coming off the Gonzalez goal.
The final ten minutes saw both sides content with the result with Porto scaling back their attacks knowing their Swiss counterparts will now need to come up with at least a goal at the Estadio Do Dragao when the two sides meet again in a few weeks time. All in all, a job well done for Julen Lopetegui’s FC Porto side who now must be considered strong favorites to advance to the round of eight in the Champions League.