FC Porto managed to reach the final four of the 2017 edition of the League Cup this Saturday night, after winning (3-2) the third and final matchday of Group D, against Paços de Ferreira. The Dragons thus confirm the match against Sporting in the semi-final (January 24, 20h45 local time), in what will be the biggest match of the competition, which will be decided between January 23 and 29, in Braga.
With Maxi, André André and Reyes in the starting team (the three changes in comparison to the match against Rio Ave), the Dragons took little more than 15 minutes to set full dominance over the match. Brahimi, as usual, was a problem for the opponent’s defence and even came to the inside to pass the ball to Soares, but goalkeeper Defendi (16 minutes) came out on top of the situation. But, as the first attempt was not successful, the second did it, from a corner-kick, with Alex Telles finding Reyes, who headed for the first goal of the night (17m).
The goal brought up an even more dominating FC Porto, as the Dragons started playing closer to the opposing goal. After the first celebration, it only took four minutes for Brahimi to run from the midfield, without opposition, and score “alone” the second goal of the evening. It was remarkable how the Algerian magician scored his seventh goal of the season.
The players were making the match easy and, despite the 2-0 lead, they didn’t slow down: Ricardo had a goal denied near the touchline, and later Marega had a chance to leave his mark in the game, but what came up was a super effective reaction from the home team. Without shooting for 30 minutes, Paços needed only two attempts to tie a match that was a complete one way street. Luiz Phelype scored both goals (31 and 45).
Without time to lose, Sérgio Conceição changed the team at halftime and the decision could have hardly been more accurate. Aboubakar replaced Soares, and Corona went in for Maxi's place, pulling Ricardo back to the right side of the defence. And those two substitutions ended up making the 3-2. The Mexican winger, who played his 100th match with the blue and white jersey, made the assistance and the Cameroonian striker did what he knows best: the final touch to the bottom of the goal.
Again in the lead of the scoreboard, the Dragons then aimed at a more sober attitude to control the match. Without the flair shown in some periods of the first-half, the blue and whites gave little chances to Paços and, in a couple of occasions, could have even score more. Defendi was the one preventing it, as he held on to the result by the minimum margin in a match that still had Herrera being sent-off. The Mexican midfielder was shown the direct red card 88 minutes in and will miss the match against Feirense.