Adriano hat trick for Inter ends Porto's reign
Brazilian striker Adriano scored a
hat-trick as Inter Milan beat Porto 3-1 to end their reign as European
champions and put Inter safely through to the last eight of the
Champions League on a 4-2 aggregate.
Adriano scored after six and 63 minutes to put Inter 3-1 ahead on
aggregate but they were pegged bck to 3-2 when Jorge Costa scored his
first goal in the competition for more than five years by scrambling
home from a corner after 69 minutes.
That set up an anxious last spell for the home side who could have made
life easier for themselves if Javier Zanetti had scored on a breakaway
in the closing minutes but his shot was cleared off the line by Pedro
Instead it was left to Adriano to complete his hat-trick three minutes
from time to see Inter through to Friday's quarter-final draw along with
Italian rivals AC Milan and Juventus.
The rest of the quarter-final lineup will be completed by Chelsea and
Liverpool from England, Bayern Munich from Germany, PSV Eindhoven from
the Netherlands and Olympique Lyon from France.
Porto, surprise winners last season, become the first defending
champions to fail to make it to the last eight in the subsequent season.
Inter defender Marco Materazzi said afterwards: "Our only regret was not
to have closed out the game sooner. We had chances, but thankfully it
turned out OK in the end."
Adriano had scored just one goal this calendar year but it was his
return to his explosive best which proved to be the difference between
the two sides. By the end of the match he had taken his Champions League
tally for the season to seven goals from six matches.
The burly Brazilian gave Inter the perfect start with a somewhat
fortunate opening goal.
The striker latched on to a misplaced Porto pass and burst down the left
flank, outpowering Jorge Costa before unleashing a left-foot drive which
took a big deflection off the sliding Pedro Emanuel and looped over
Porto keeper Vitor Baia into the net.
That should have settled Inter's nerves and made it clear to the
Portuguese side that they had to take Inter on.
But Porto, who made five changes from the team which on Friday suffered
their worst home defeat for 30 years with a 4-0 loss to Nacional,
struggled to get into the game.
Looking a poor imitation of the team which won the competition last
season, when under the charge of current Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho,
Porto lacked shape and incisiveness.
Inter were little better with Argentine Juan Sebastian Veron and Serb
Dejan Stankovic playing out of position on the flanks, they were unable
to develop any fluidity to their game.
At the break Porto coach Jose Couceiro took off the ineffectual
Brazilian Claudio, replacing him with Ricardo Quaresma and he made a
swift impact with a 53rd minute shot whistling just wide of the post.
It was a different game now and Inter should have doubled their lead in
the 62nd minute when after more sloppy passing from Porto, Veron burst
into the area but his pass across the area was well behind Adriano and a
great opportunity was wasted.
Adriano didn't have long to wait for a chance though. Just moments later
Argentine Julio Ricardo Cruz put the Brazilian through and he made no
mistake with a clinical finish after switching feet in a flash to score.
With nothing to lose Porto threw players forward and Greek right-back
Georgios Seitaridis almost caught Inter keeper Francesco Toldo out with
a long-range drive which the former Italy keeper only just kept out at
his near post.
Porto's pressure paid off when Inter failed to deal with a low near post
corner from Quaresma and defender Jorge Costa scrambled the ball home to
make it 2-1 on the night.
Inter should have wrapped things up in the 71st minute when Stankovic
was put in on goal but his woeful shot went harmlessly wide.
The Italians wasted another chance ten minutes later when skipper Javier
Zanetti sprung the offside trap, breaking through on his own, but he
pushed the ball too far as he rounded Vitor Baia and his shot from a
tight angle was cleared off the line by Emanuel.
But the tie was finally sealed three minutes from the end with Adriano
completing his hat-trick, latching on to a Veron pass before skipping
past Nuno Valente and firing home.