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Porto knocked out of Europe in muddy stalemate
Martyn Herman | December 07, 2005 05:47 IST
Former European Cup winners Porto were dumped out of Europe on Tuesday when they were held 0-0 by Artmedia Bratislava in their final Champions League Group H game on a filthy night in the Slovakian capital.
The Portuguese aristocrats were playing their 100th match in the competition but looked a bedraggled bunch at the final whistle as their hopes of reaching the last 16 were sunk on a night more suited to mud wrestling in the Tehelne Pole stadium.
The few hundred Porto fans huddled together in the cascading rain do not even have the consolation of a place in the UEFA Cup as a draw was sufficient for Artmedia to retain third place.
In truth, Porto were second best against a side trying to become the first from Slovakia to reach the knockout phase of the competition.
The hosts produced a second-half onslaught and missed a hatful of chances that would have given them a famous victory. The fact that Rangers only drew 1-1 in Glasgow with group winners Inter Milan to finish second made it all the more frustrating.
Artmedia coach Vladimir Weiss said: "I thought we made a great effort especially in the second half. I thought we should have had a penalty but I don't want to blame that.
"We were close to our dreams. I'm sad that Rangers went through because I thought we were better than them."
Porto's Dutch coach Co Adriaanse had no complaints, blaming five dropped home points against Artmedia and Rangers as the reason for their embarrassing early exit.
"We lost European football in our home games against Artmedia and Rangers, that's where we lost the points," he said.
"It was difficult to play football because of the pitch. They were physically stronger, they wanted to win, they had more opportunities, they were more dangerous.
"If one team deserved to win tonight it was Artmedia."
Porto's Argentine striker Lisandro Lopez had the ball in the net for the visitors midway through the half, but the linesman's flag had already gone up for offside.
Gradually Artmedia, who claimed a stunning 3-2 victory in Porto earlier in the group after trailing 2-0, realised they had nothing to fear and took control.
In one hectic spell, Branislav Obzera had his shot smothered by Vitor Baia and the Porto keeper was then called into action to save a shot on the turn by Lukas Hartig.
Porto were in disarray and they had another huge let-off after 64 minutes when substitute Blazej Vascak, on for the injured Hartig, latched on to a pass from Jan Kozak.
As Vascak bore down on goal Baia slid out and missed both ball and player, but with the goal at his mercy Vascak was denied by the clinging mud and a desperate tackle from Pepe who was lucky not to concede a penalty.
Artmedia should have won it in the dying minutes when Urbanek took an eternity to shoot with the ball stuck agonisingly in the mud inside the six-yard area.
(Additional reporting by Matt Reynolds)
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