Porto topple Napoli in second half romp
By Oliver Wilson
A dismal first half turned into a Porto thumping of Italian side Napoli in the Emirates Cup on Sunday.
Goran Pandev opened the scoring from the penalty spot for the Serie A side but goals from Nabil Ghilas, Lica and a own goal from Frederico Fernandez gave the Portuguese a 3-1 win and six points towards their chase to the Emirates Cup trophy.
If yesterday’s opening 45 minutes of the Emirates Cup was considered a little lacklustre as Porto and Galatasaray stroked the ball around the immaculate playing surface with little intent or drive, then neutral fans were ‘treated’ to a first half of football that could have made paint drying seem like a Hollywood blockbuster.
With Porto playing for pride after their loss to the Turkish giants on Saturday, while Rafa Benitez’ Napoli side harboured dreams of escaping London with a small piece of silverware, the scattering of fans in attendance could have been fooled into thinking the two sides might put on a bit of a show. Neither side, though could find a telling pass or an extra boost of energy to galvanise their side into playing anything more than knock about football. By the time Pandev lazily fell over after a slight touch from Fernando, causing Anthony Taylor to point to the spot and give the Italian club a golden chance to take the lead from the penalty spot, the majority of fans had switched off from the proceedings.
Pandev slotted his penalty past Helton to give his side the lead going into the break. No one appeared to really notice.
Porto came out from the interval rejuvenated while Benitez brought on two of his talented stars Marek Hamsik and Gonzalo Higuain, the Argentinian forward receiving a chorus of boos every time he touched the ball.
Within five minutes of the second half, Porto had pulled level, Juan Quintero threading a wonderful ball through the defence, allowing Ghilas to scuff a tidy finish past Rafael and into the bottom corner.
Porto began to take control of the game as Napoli wandered forward with little urgency. Paolo Fonseca’s side found joy down the right flank with Silvestre Varela causing plenty of problems for the Napoli defence. The 28-year-old looked 18 again as he jinked his way through yellow shirts, stabbing an effort from 25-yards over the bar on the hour mark.
Eventually, Porto grabbed their second.
Minutes after Fernando failed to find the target as he broke onto a low cross from Ghilas, Varela once again was able to find space to burst into on the Porto right. Unchallenged, he fizzed a teasing cross across the face of the six-yard-box, finding the outstretched leg of Fernandez who poked the ball into his own net.
Napoli’s implosion was completed 10 minutes late when, with 12 minutes left to play, the normally reliable Dossena gave the ball away deep inside his own penalty area. Porto substitute, Lica, didn’t need to be asked twice to add his name to the score sheet and he comfortably slotted his effort past the helpless Rafael to add Porto’s third and final goal of the afternoon.