A clinical late goal from Atletico Madrid’s Turkey midfielder Arda Turan gave the La Liga front runners a 2-1 win over Portuguese champions Porto in their Champions League Group G match at the Estadio do Dragao on Tuesday.
Porto’s defense were caught napping with five minutes left, when Gabi slotted a clever free-kick into the area for Turan, who blasted home to snatch the three points.
Initially, the hosts had Atletico on the back foot with intense pressing high up the pitch and they deservedly opened the scoring through Jackson Martinez’s flying header from Josue’s pinpoint free-kick after 16 minutes.
Yet Atletico equalized just before the hour mark, when defender Diego Godin headed into an empty net after towering above the Porto defense, having beaten onrushing goalkeeper Helton to the ball.
“The truth is that [my] goal was a special one as it brought us back into a game that was a little bogged down,” Godin told uefa.com.
Atletico’s victory puts them three points clear of Porto at the top of Group G on six.
“We were able to win a match at a stadium where few teams manage to,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone told Spanish television.
The Madrid side arrived on a high after a morale-boosting 1-0 win over city rivals Real on the weekend kept them level on maximum points with La Liga leaders Barcelona.
“This has been an unforgettable start to the season, it’s true we are strong,” Atletico’s Portugal midfielder Tiago said.
They struggled early on at the Dragao, despite wasting a good chance in the first period when Raul Garcia’s header hit the bar, and only came alive late on.
It was Porto who caught the eye amid several flowing moves, one of which ended with Silvestre Varela being denied by a reflex save from Belgium ’keeper Thibaut Courtois.
In the second half, Atletico defender Filipe Luis had a venomous long shot saved by Helton, who also won a one-on-one battle against Raul Garcia by saving with his feet.
In the end, Atletico, Europa League winners in 2010 and last year, punished the Portuguese champions, who seemed drained of energy in the dying minutes of an intense match.
In a move that looked as if it came straight from the training ground, the heavily bearded Turan found space behind Porto’s distracted defenders to coolly fire home the winner.
“You have to tip your hat to our second, which came from a strategic move that we had prepared, but until today didn’t have an opportunity to pull it off,” Godin said.