Porto’s European history is inextricably linked with English sides. During the era when Liverpool, Forest et al ruled the continent, Os Dragões were also reasserting their status as Portugal’s foremost club, after almost two decades in the doldrums. In more recent times, there have been some titanic struggles against the Premier League’s finest, not to mention a generous helping of thumpings. Here’s four of the best:
Porto 0-0 Newcastle United (Inter-Cities Fairs Cup 1969/70, 2nd round 1st leg)
|A young Fernando Gomes|
Having cruised past Hvidovre IF in the 1st round, Porto were paired with the defending champions, Joe Harvey’s Newcastle United. In truth this was less of a memorable occasion than the raising of a curtain: the first meeting between the Dragons and an English side was a dour goalless draw, with Newcastle edging the second leg 1-0. The previous season had seen them dispatch Porto’s contemporaries Sporting and Vitória de Setúbal on their way to winning the trophy, and that, combined with Porto’s wretched form under Romanian coach Elek Schwartz (they would finish the season in 9th of 14) meant that little was expected of them on this occasion.
Porto 4-1 Wolves (UEFA Cup 1974/75, 1st round 1st leg)
With Benfica’s golden generation of the 1960’s and early 1970’s beginning to slip into retirement, and a young centre forward named Fernando Gomes coming through the ranks, the mid-1970’s were far happier times for Porto. Portugal itself was in the grips of the Revolução dos Cravos, and the strife was such that the man who began the season as coach, the great Brazilian Aymoré Moreira, was soon replaced by Monteiro da Costa. But not before they handed Bill McGarry’s Wolves a shellacking at the Antas. McGarry had guided his team to the 1972 UEFA Cup final, but by 1974 they were on a slide that would result in relegation before the decade was out. Porto were 4-1 winners at the Antas, but were made to sweat at Molineux; eventually sneaking through after a 3-1 loss.
Porto 4-0 Man. United (Cup Winners’ Cup 1977/78, 2nd round 1st leg)
|"Oh I say..it's Doo-Dah"|
|"Err, another one for Sen-een-oh"|
By the end of the decade, Porto were firmly on the up. Champions for the first time since 1959 at the end of the campaign, they also reached the quarter-finals of the Cup Winners’ Cup, a journey which included a memorable tie (the first of many) against City’s friends from across town. Despite winning the FA Cup the previous season, this was hardly a vintage United squad, evidenced by their eventual finishing position: 10th, 22 points adrift of champions Nottingham Forest. The goals came from legendary forward (and future club coach) António Oliveira, and a hat-trick from Duda (or Doo-Dah, if you’re John Motson), but as it turned out, the four-goal lead was nowhere near enough to see off United, who produced a thrilling second-leg comeback, aided by a pair of own goals from the unfortunate Alfredo Murça. But a brace from Seninho (who would depart for the bright lights of the New York Cosmos over the summer) saw José María Pedroto and co through.
Man. United 1 Porto1 (Champions League 2003/04) Q/F 2nd leg José. Giving it the big one. At Old Trafford. Need I say more?