Injury hit Porto beat Rio Ave 1-0 to make it make it ten straight wins

Injury damage Porto rallied to a close 1-0 win over Rio Ave at the Estádio do Dragão.

Toni Martínez converted Wendell’s cross in the 44th minute, but the Dragons were unable to end the game.

Rio Ave had a great chance to steal a point in stoppage time, Emmanuel Boateng headed wide and was at his mercy.

Sergio Conceição hopes to get some of his stars back ahead of a tough trip to Italy. Porto meet Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg on Wednesday.

Slow start for the Dragons

Play followed a predictable pattern, with Porto monopolizing the ball but failing to make any meaningful combinations in the attacking third.

Rio Ave came into play and put the ball in the net in the 22nd minute. André Pereira hit the post after Emmanuel Boateng’s header, but the goal was disallowed after Boateng was ruled offside.

The Vilacondenses kept up the pressure, an Andreas Samaris free-kick forced a save from Diogo Costa, with the shot-stopper springing into action again to parry Guga’s long-range shot.

Porto comes alive

Porto finally fired a furious shot in the 35th minute when Stephen Eustáquio’s attempt was blocked. Toni Martínez then shot over the bar, Mehdi Taremi roared for the ball.

The Dragons kept up the pressure and were rewarded at halftime. Wendell’s cross went through Taremi, with Martínez in prime position to steer the ball past Jhonatan to score his 10th goal of the season.

Martínez’s chances kept coming after the break, when he headed a corner from Eustáquio over the bar.

Boateng cannot convert

Rio Ave had a great chance to equalize in the 58th minute. João Graça sent Boateng through a huge hole in Porto’s defence, but he couldn’t run away and looped his shot into the side netting under pressure from Pepe and João Mário.

Luís Freire made two substitutions in the 69th minute when Miguel Baeza and Leonardo Ruiz replaced Graça and Pereira. Sérgio Conceição responded by bringing in Zaidu Sanusi and Gonçalo Borges for Wendell and Taremi.

Ruiz couldn’t find enough power with his header after Diogo Costa spilled the ball, Freire emptied his bench and Savio, Paulo Vitor and Hernâni came on for Josué Sá, Costinha and Samaris.

The injured Dragons suffered another blow as Martínez went down and was replaced by Danny Namaso, with André Franco making way for Bernardo Folha.

Porto grew increasingly unhappy with referee Vitor Ferreira, sporting director Luís Gonçalves escalating the insults and drawing a red card for his team.

Exciting ending

Namaso missed a big chance to seal the deal after Pepê Aquino went past four opponents, Grujic then converted a difficult chance straight at Jhonatan.

Rio Ave had their best chance of the game deep in injury time when Sanusi lost the ball and Hernâni’s Hernâni cross was aimed at Boateng, who headed wide.

Honor for Christian Atsu

Before kick-off, the players and crowd paid tribute to Christian Atsu, the former Porto and Rio Ave player who died in the earthquake in Turkey.

Ten before a tough test in Italy

Sérgio Conceição predicted a difficult game and it turned out that the Porto coach was missing Fábio Cardoso, Mateus Uribe, Otávio, Galeno, Gabriel Veron and Evanilson.

André Franco started for the third consecutive year with Vasco Sousa and Fernando Andrade on the bench.

The Dragons breathed a sigh of relief when Boateng headed wide in added time to secure their tenth straight win, two of them against Sporting Clube do Portugal and eight of them clean sheets.

Of course, losing Mateus Uribe, Otávio and Galeno ahead of their crucial Champions League clash against Inter Milan isn’t ideal. Conceição hopes some of his regulars can recover for the important game in Italy.

Sérgio Conceição examines the schedule

Sérgio Conceição spoke about his players’ injuries ahead of the game, citing the hectic schedule as one of the reasons.

“The calendar was totally tight before and after the World Cup. We played 10 games in one month. It’s not just the games, it’s been proven that four days or less of rest increases the risk of injury sixfold.

“We had the Taça da Liga in the middle and a game or two with 72 hours of recovery. More and more operators who hold the TV rights want higher quality games and we have to travel around in a hurry.”

From Matthew Marshall at the Estadio do Dragao


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