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Holders Porto snatch a draw
February 24, 2005 03:43 IST
Last Updated: February 24, 2005 09:32 IST
Champions League first knockout round, first leg:
Central defender Ricardo Costa scored a 61st-minute equaliser just after the hour to earn holders Porto a 1-1 draw with Inter Milan in their Champions League first knockout round, first leg in Porto on Wednesday.
Inter went ahead in the 24th minute when Dejan Stankovic broke into the box from the left, slipped by two defenders and crossed low past keeper Vitor Baia for fellow striker Obafemi Martins, unmarked, to turn the ball into an empty net.
Porto equalised just past the hour when Inter goalkeeper Francesco Toldo missed a high cross to the far post, Costinha played the ball back into the middle and Costa blasted it home from one metre.
The home side, without suspended captain Jorge Costa in defence and Brazilian playmaker Diego, made a number of errors in the first half and were unable to organise their attacks.
In the second half, Porto's new coach Jose Couceiro, who was making his debut in European competition, managed to inject more attacking power into the team, who pushed the Italian side onto the back foot.
After their equaliser, Porto squandered several chances to inflict on Inter their first defeat in 38 domestic and international games this season as attempts by Maniche and South African striker Benny McCarthy went wide.
In the final minutes, veteran keeper Baia prevented Inter from regaining the lead with two fine saves, first at the feet of substitute striker Christian Vieri and then turning away a powerful shot by Stankovic.
The two teams meet in the second leg in Milan on March 15, a week after the other seven ties are completed. Inter share the San Siro stadium with AC Milan who are also at home in the second leg.
Both coaches acknowledged their team's errors but were optimistic about advancing to the quarter-finals.
"At halftime, Inter had the advantage, but I think that we had possibilities for a win. All will be decided in Milan, where we can win," said Couceiro.
"We started the game in acceptable form, but we committed a defensive error in an area in which we knew that Inter is very strong," he said. "We played more with our heart than our head."
Inter coach Roberto Mancini said he was pleased with his team's performance.
"It is a good result," he said. "We played very well, we had several opportunities to win near the end, but Vitor Baia was very good and prevented the second goal."