Fri, Nov 07, 2014 - Page 18 News List

UEFA: Porto seal qualification after comfortable victory

AFP, BILBAO, Spain

Two-time European champions Porto sealed their place in the round-of-16 of the UEFA Champions League with a comfortable 2-0 win away to Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday.

Colombian striker Jackson Martinez made amends by smashing a first-half penalty against the bar when he bundled home the opener 11 minutes into the second half.

Yacine Brahimi then sealed the three points 17 minutes from time as he pounced on a shocking error from Athletic goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz to tap into an empty net.

Porto posed the greater threat during the first 45 minutes, but lacked the killer touch in front of goal.

Martinez was first to go close when his effort at the near post from Cristian Tello’s cross was deflected wide and he then flashed a header just off target from the resulting corner.

The visitors were presented with a great chance to go in front when Mikel Balenziaga was harshly adjudged to have brought down Danilo inside the penalty area, but Martinez was wasteful once more as he blasted the penalty off the bar.

Athletic boss Ernesto Valverde tried to turn things around by introducing Iker Muniain and Andoni Iraola at halftime.

However, it made little difference as Martinez finally got his goal when he forced the ball home at the near post from Brahimi’s low cross.

Young striker Guillermo Fernandez, who was deputizing for Athletic’s injured top-scorer Aritz Aduriz, came closest to a response when his looping header struck the crossbar, but any hope of a comeback from the hosts was ended in comedic fashion when Iraizoz failed to control Aymeric Laporte’s back-pass and Brahimi slotted home to double Porto’s advantage.

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