Anyone who was wondering whether Porto and Portuguese soccer is for real only need look at the state Europe’s second tier competition has been left in by teams from the sun haven.
Porto didn’t so much as barge their way through a crowd of people. Oh no! Their performance last night at home to Villarreal showed what happens when you have the audacity to go one goal to the good in their dungeon – they flat out embarrass you to the extent that you can imagine Villarreal sobbing in the corner of the ground.
The ease with which the Portuguese side dismantled their opponents will have Europe’s top clubs circling around not only the players. Highly rated manager Andre Villas-Boas is the hottest property in European soccer right now and after only dropping four points all season, 2011/12 will not see the same Porto side lining up.
Last night’s tie was lit up by Colombian striker Falcao who evoked memories of the Brazilian great with his four second half goals. They were added to by fellow countryman Freddy Guarin and meant it was the third Europa League game in a row that Porto has registered five goals.
Portugal was the key theme in the night’s other game as Benfica and Braga served up an all the more dour affair. We still had a winner at the end of the 90 minutes. Porto 5-1 Villarreal it was not though.
Benfica’s victory was sealed by a Oscar Cardozo wonder strike in the second half. The worry for them will be that the away side Braga notched an important away goal and have been known to win an encounter 1-0 at home on more than one occasion in almost Jose Mourinho-esque fashion.
Last night all but confirmed an all-Portuguese final and also that this will forever be the second rate competition of those in Europe.