A 10-man FC Porto pulled off one of the most unpredictable upsets in the 2020-21 UEFA Champions League as they knocked out Juventus on away goals.
🔥 Juventus 3-2 Porto = a Champions League classic?— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) March 9, 2021
⏰1⃣9⃣ Juventus 0-1 Porto (agg: 1-3)
⏰4⃣9⃣ Juventus 1-1 Porto (agg: 2-3)
⏰6⃣3⃣ Juventus 2-1 Porto (agg: 3-3)
⏰1⃣1⃣5⃣ Juventus 2-2 Porto (agg: 3-4)
⏰1⃣1⃣7⃣ Juventus 3-2 Porto (agg: 4-4)#UCL pic.twitter.com/El7z7DE2wC
The Dragons, who came with a 2-1 lead from the first leg, took the lead in the 19th minute when Sergio Oliveira scored from the spot after Juventus’ Merih Demiral brought down Porto's Mehdi Taremi.
Taremi was sent off in the 54th for his second booking, while Federico Chiesa struck twice (49th and 63rd minute) to bring the scores level on aggregate, 3-3.
While it seemed the Old Lady had the upper hand, they crashed out on away goals despite winning the second leg by 3-2. Oliveira’s free-kick in the 115th minute of added extra time - before Adrien Rabiot’s 117th-minute strike - meant the Dragons scored two away goals, and in doing so, they relived the exploits of the 2004 Porto team, which knocked out Manchester United in a similar manner.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who bowed out of the last 16 for the second consecutive season, was left shell-shocked as he found himself in a situation from precisely 17 years ago (when he was with the 2004 United team). The Portuguese legend had a catastrophic game as he failed to register a single shot, create a chance or attempt a dribble in the first 45 minutes, highlighting how well Juventus' attack was marshalled by his former Real Madrid teammate Pepe and his men.
Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t create a chance, complete a dribble or have a shot on target in the first half vs. Porto.— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) March 9, 2021
A *big* second half needed. 😬 pic.twitter.com/FXhg7BNE19
Ronaldo 0/3 Dribbles pic.twitter.com/eDpF43nPfX— $ (@ROSSZlZ0U) March 9, 2021
While Ronaldo struggled to make an impact, 23-year-old forward Chiesa stepped up and became the first Italian since the legendary Filippo Inzaghi to score two or more goals in a Champions League knockout fixture.
1999 - Federico Chiesa is the first Italian 🇮🇹 player to score 2+ goals in a UEFA Champions League knockout stage game with Juventus since Filippo Inzaghi, in April 1999 against Manchester United. Amazing.#JuveFCP pic.twitter.com/HIXjfTDyZr— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) March 9, 2021
Besides Chiesa, Colombian international Juan Cuadrado played a huge role in the attacking prowess as he created as many as 12 goalscoring chances and registered a whopping 32 crosses. No player has racked up such numbers since 2016-17.
✰ Most chances created in a #UCL game since 2016-17: Juan Cuadrado vs. Porto (12)— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 9, 2021
✰ Most crosses in a #UCL game since 2016-17: Juan Cuadrado vs. Porto (32)
Juve's go-to tactic. 😳 pic.twitter.com/tLX3RKbZx7
Juventus have had 22 shots in 105 minutes vs. Porto — Juan Cuadrado has created 11 of them.— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) March 9, 2021
Huge attacking output. 🎯 pic.twitter.com/4wi0nT0YYT
Amidst the talk about Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus, former players and many Twitter users showered praise on the former's national compatriot Pepe. The 38-year-old rolled back the years and ensured the Bianconeri couldn't penetrate the Porto defence easily, despite being one man short. Famous football analyst Statman Dave dug out impressive numbers from the Porto skipper's outing last night.
Pepe’s game by numbers vs. Juventus:— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) March 9, 2021
120 minutes played
100% aerial duels won
85% pass accuracy
63 total touches
16 clearances (!)
2 tackles won
Unbelievable. 🪨 pic.twitter.com/ZsuN8tKtz6
Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand, a TV Pundit with British channel BT Sport, heaped praises on his one-time nemesis, claiming that aspiring young centre-halves should watch his performance for perfect lessons on how to play at the back.
'If I am coaching at a football club now, I'd get these clips, and give them to every young centre half at the club to watch - in terms of positional, desire, communication, awareness, sensing and smelling danger of where to be and using your body, as well in terms of defending the box.
Following the result, many Twitter users lashed out at Ronaldo and Juventus. Here are some of the reactions.
Cristiano Ronaldo leaving 3-peat winners Real Madrid is the worst individual sporting decision in football history. He can only blame himself for it.— TC. (@totalcristiano) March 9, 2021
Has there ever been a football match like this? 10 man Porto 4-4 Juventus. Porto go through on away goals. With Ronaldo the villain of the piece! And Pepe the oldest man on the pitch the Man of the Match...— George Galloway (@georgegalloway) March 9, 2021
Bizarre to think that Juventus went to the #UCL final twice without Cristiano Ronaldo.— Matteo Bonetti (@BonettiESPN) March 9, 2021
They signed him to help win a competition where Juve have been cursed, only to be knocked out twice in a row in the Round of 16 by Lyon and Porto.
Ronaldo: I came here to win the Champions League with Juventus pic.twitter.com/HLBkCdnfB3— Troll Football (@TrollFootball) March 9, 2021
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Marco Bertorello