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Determined PSG hold their nerve

Tuesday, 2 November 2004

By Fergus O'Shea at the Estádio do Dragão

[1] Paris Saint-Germain FC moved a step closer to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League and left FC Porto on the brink of elimination after holding the defending champions to a goalless draw.

Porto in trouble

[2] Porto controlled possession for much of this Group H tie but lacked a cutting edge and remain bottom on two points after four matches. PSG move level in second on four points with PFC CSKA Moskva, who lost 1-0 to group winners Chelsea FC.

Three changes

[3] Porto made three changes to the side that lost 2-0 in Paris a fortnight ago. Pedro Emanuel replaced injured Brazilian Pepe at centre-back, Bosingwa stepped into the defensive midfield role because of the absence of concussed Costinha, and Ricardo Quaresma started on the wing in place of Carlos Alberto.

Rothen out

[4] PSG were without the injured Jérôme Rothen, so Fabrice Pancrate took his place on the left wing, while Edouard Cissé replaced right-winger Reinaldo, out with a hamstring problem. Porto started in an attacking 4-3-3 formation, with South African Benni McCarthy spearheading the frontline. PSG went with their usual 4-4-1-1 formation, with Portuguese international Pauleta up front with Charles-Edouard Coridon.

Maniche chance

[5] A wet night in Porto made for a sluggish start, with both sides doing their best to take control in slippery conditions. Neither created a chance worthy of mention until the 20th minute, when the lively Quaresma swung an inviting cross into the box which McCarthy deflected on to Maniche on the edge of the area, but his powerful volley flew narrowly wide.

Porto press

[6] That miss brought Porto to life, but despite controlling much of the possession, they were unable to find space in the crowded PSG half to threaten the goal. Some nice interplay after 41 minutes concluded in a smart backheel from McCarthy to Diego, but his strike from outside the box was easily collected by PSG goalkeeper Lionel Letizi.

Derlei heads wide

[7] Diego was involved again just before half-time when he set Maniche free inside the area, but the midfield player was unable to find the target. The half ended with the home side looking increasingly confident and Derlei nearly capitalised on their improved play when Maniche found him free at the back post in injury time, but the striker headed wide.

Quaresma sparkles

[8] Neither coach made any changes at half-time and it was the home side which continued to look the more adventurous. Only three minutes of the second period had elapsed when Porto came frustratingly close to registering the first goal. Once again it was Quaresma who created space against his opponent Stéphane Pichot on the right wing, and he delivered a dipping ball across goal, but McCarthy failed to connect at full stretch and the ball was cleared.

Double switch

[9] PSG seemed content to hold the line for large periods of the game, relying on the occasional break from Pancrate and Coridon for inspiration. Porto coach Victor Fernández made two changes on 64 minutes in the hope of breaking down the PSG defence, introducing Carlos Alberto for Diego and, much to the dismay of the Porto supporters, substituting McCarthy for fellow forward Hugo Almeida.

Baía saves

[10] Porto continued to press forward. Defender Giourkas Seitaridis struck twice from distance, but failed to trouble the goalkeeper and the sense of frustration was palpable from the home crowd as chance after chance ended with little conviction or danger. But the best chance fell to PSG against the run of play after 78 minutes, Vítor Baía saving well from substitute Bernard Mendy on the break.

PSG's Fabrice Pancrate tussles with Jorge Costa of Porto