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FC Porto 3 Bayern 1

FCB thrown lifeline by Thiago’s away goal

Bayern hopes of reaching the Champions League semi-finals hang by a thread following a 3-1 defeat to Portuguese cracks FC Porto in Wednesday night’s quarter-final first leg, although the Reds were at least thrown a lifeline by Thiago’s precious away goal, as a 2-0 win in Munich next Tuesday would be enough to see the Bavarians into the last four on away goals.

The 50,948 capacity crowd at Estadio do Dragao saw the 2013 winners thrown out of their stride in the first ten minutes by veteran Portugal striker Ricardo Quaresma’s early brace, but Pep Guardiola’s men battled their way back into the contest and Thiago cut the arrears before the half-hour. FCB were holding their own but disaster struck on 65 minutes when Colombia hitman Jackson Martínez restored Porto’s two-goal advantage, and for all Bayern’s efforts there were to be no more goals as the disciplined Portuguese shut up shop in the closing stages.

There is precious little time for the German champions-elect to lick their wounds as they return to Bundesliga action on Saturday away to Hoffenheim, before the crucial do-or-die return against Porto at the Allianz Arena three days later.

Manuel and Jerome from the start

Compared to the team that beat Eintracht Frankfurt at the weekend, Guardiola made the two changes expected by most observers with Manuel Neuer resuming duty in place of Pepe Reina and Jerome Boateng taking over from Mitch Weiser.

The young utility man was joined on the bench by 18-year-old Gianluca Gaudino and reserve team keeper Ivan Lucic, a mark of the injury crisis at the club which kept the likes of Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Bastian Schweinsteiger, David Alaba and Mehdi Banatia out of the squad.

The visitors started with Manuel Neuer in goal, Rafinha, Jerome Boateng, Dante and Juan Bernat in defence, Xabi Alonso, Philipp Lahm and Thiago in midfield, and Mario Götze, Thomas Müller and Robert Lewandowski up front.

Quaresma’s brace, Thiago’s reply

Just three minutes after Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo whistled play underway, the Bavarians were a goal behind when Jackson Martínez – seemingly unfairly – robbed Alonso on the edge of the box and drew a foul from Neuer, the keeper seeing a yellow card and Quaresma tucking away the ensuing penalty.

FCB sought an early response and Lewandowski looped a header onto the roof of the net after Müller returned the ball into the corridor of uncertainty from a quick free-kick, but the visitors were undone again after ten minutes when Quaresma pounced on Dante’s slip and calmly stroked home his side’s second.

It was a desperately poor start for Munich but Lahm and Co steadily regrouped, wrestling the initiative from the lively Portuguese around the midpoint of the half. The busy Götze began to make inroads and Bernat saw his 27th-minute shot deflected, but Guardiola’s men pulled one back just a minute later when Thiago half-volleyed home his first goal since January 2014 from the marauding Boateng’s low cross.

The visitors’ tails were up but there was still a nervy moment for Neuer in the 33rd minute when Alex Sandro’s mis-hit cross slipped through the keeper’s fingers and bounced off the crossbar away from goal. Müller’s cross cum shot caused fleeting danger, before Casemiro headed over Neuer’s bar and Lewandowski had a shout for a penalty waved away as the half drew to a close.

Tough going after the break

The sides battened down the hatches in the early exchanges after the restart with no quarter given or asked for a long spell. Guardiola took off Götze and sent on Sebastian Rode on 56 minutes, but the home team fashioned the first chance of the second half when Mexican midfielder Hector Herrera drew a great reflex save from Neuer after a rapid interchange of passes on the right.

Bayern seemed to have the game better under control but Porto restored their two-goal lead on 65 minutes with an error again at the root of the problem: Boateng was caught out of position by a long ball, allowing Martinez to round Neuer and slot into the empty net.

The visitors struggled to make headway against the pumped home team and Guardiola sent on Badstuber for Alonso with a quarter of an hour to go, but for all Munich’s territorial domination, Porto had now parked the bus and chances were thin on the ground through to the close. It was an off night for Guardiola’s men but all is by no means lost provided the Reds can cut the individual errors in Munich six days from now.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley