Sérgio Conceição’s FC Porto side secured second spot in Group H with a 5-3 triumph over Shakhtar Donetsk, marking the 30-times Portuguese champion’s 12th win from their last 17 UEFA Champions League group stage matches.
Shakhtar entered the clash knowing that top spot in the group was still up for grabs, should results go in their favor, despite starting the night outside the top two. Their hopes of qualifying would take an early dent though, with Porto taking the lead after just nine minutes.
Lingering in and around the penalty spot, Galeno went unnoticed and was able to stab home the opener into an empty net. In the lead and with control of the tie, it looked like Porto would go on to have a comfortable first-half showing.
However, midway through the opening period, Shakhtar would find themselves level in controversial circumstances, with Danylo Sikan netting the equalizer, even though the assistant referee had flagged for offside. Confusing the Porto backline, it appears the hosts took that as an instruction that the game would be stopped, allowing Oleksandr Zubkov to put the ball on a plate for Sikan.
But that’s where Shakhtar’s first-half luck would run out, as just before the break, Galeno bagged his second of the evening to cap off a topsy-turvy 45 minutes of football. The Brazilian took aim from outside the penalty area, with his strike taking a wicked deflection before sizzling past Dmytro Riznyk in the visitors’ goal.
Shortly after the halftime break, Porto added a third when Mehdi Taremi rifled into the roof of the visitors’ net, having latched onto Galeno’s through ball. Clearly a contest that wasn’t following any rhyme or reason, a flurry of late goals would see the pendulum swing a number of times.
It started with Shakhtar, who scored their second of the evening when Sikan’s drilled cross was turned into the home side’s net by Porto midfielder Stephen Eustáquio. It wouldn’t take long for Porto to regain their goal cushion, as Pepe bundled home from close range, while substitute Francisco Conceição capitalized on some sloppy Shakhtar defending to score a fifth.
Determined not to go down without a fight, remarkably, Shakhtar themselves scored a third, with Eguinaldo getting his name on the scoresheet. It wouldn’t be enough for the Ukrainian side, who despite their three goals away from home will have to settle for UEFA Europa League football instead.
Whereas for Porto, they’ve made it to the last-16 for the third consecutive season.
This thrilling victory showcases FC Porto’s strength and determination as they secure second spot in Group H. With their 12th win in their last 17 UEFA Champions League group stage matches, Porto has proven themselves as a formidable force in European football.
Shakhtar Donetsk fought hard, knowing that top spot in the group was still within reach. However, Porto took the lead early on, with Galeno seizing an opportunity to score the opener. Despite controversy surrounding Shakhtar’s equalizer, Porto regained control of the match just before halftime, with Galeno securing his second goal of the evening.
The second half brought even more excitement, as Porto extended their lead with Taremi’s powerful strike. Shakhtar managed to score a second goal, but Porto quickly responded with goals from Pepe and Francisco Conceição. Although Shakhtar scored a third, their efforts fell short, and they will have to settle for UEFA Europa League football.
Porto’s achievement of reaching the last-16 for the third consecutive season is a testament to their consistency and talent. As the competition progresses, FC Porto will undoubtedly continue to showcase their skills and determination on the European stage.
Overall, this thrilling victory highlights FC Porto’s resilience and their ability to perform under pressure. As they advance to the next stage of the UEFA Champions League, Porto will undoubtedly be a team to watch.