Five-star Porto power through to last four

Weserstadion, Bremen – 30/03/1994 – Group stage
Bremen
Bremen
0 - 5
Porto
  • Bastos Tavares 11
  • Kostadinov 35
  • Secretário 70
  • Domingos 74
  • Timofte 90 (P)
Porto
Tactical masterclass

"Of all Porto's wins, finals included, this would rate among their three or four most significant victories." Rui Cerqueira

1993/94

• FC Barcelona forward Hristo Stoichkov finished top scorer in the UEFA Champions League with five goals in six outings (he missed two group fixtures), all of them coming in the first 35 minutes of games.

• SV Werder Bremen were 3-0 down with 25 minutes of their Matchday 2 meeting with RSC Anderlecht remaining but launched a memorable comeback, scoring five unanswered goals to win 5-3 in Germany.

• AC Milan ended top of Group B despite winning just two of their six games and scoring only six goals. They then hit seven without reply in the last four – where they defeated FC Porto 3-0 – and the final.

After a five-goal thriller in FC Porto's first meeting with SV Werder Bremen, the sides went into the Germany rematch knowing victory would have a big say in determining who joined AC Milan in the semi-finals. Five more goals delivered more thrills, but somewhat less equitably shared as the Portuguese visitors stunned the hosts.

With unbeaten Milan through with two games to spare, this match always looked likely to determine who would finish second in Group B. Win and Porto were through; a Bremen victory would have left the German side on the verge but draw and RSC Anderlecht lurked just behind. An early injury to Paulinho Santos was ominous for Porto but his replacement, Rui Filipe, quickly ensured it was a false dawn.

Just three minutes after his introduction the substitute let fly from distance and was rewarded for his enterprise as his shot took a wicked deflection of Andree Wiedener and looped over Oliver Reck. At the other end Vítor Baía was enjoying more luck as he made several saves. Ten minutes before half-time Emil Kostadinov struck on the break, collecting Ljubinko Drulović's pass and firing low to Reck's left.

It set the tone as Bremen pushed on in increasing desperation and Porto sought to hit on the counterattack. Midway through the second period Carlos Secretário made it three after cutting in from the right – surely, now, the visitors would ease off? Yet having seen his side's 3-0 lead in the corresponding fixture four months earlier reduced to 3-2 in a thrilling finale, Sir Bobby Robson urged his side on.

Four minutes later substitute Domingos Paciência made sure with a stunning long-range effort. Ion Timofte rubbed salt into the wounds with a last-gasp penalty after Andreas Herzog handled Domingos's shot and Porto were through to the last four.

"Of all Porto's wins, finals included, this would rate among their three or four most significant victories," former broadcater Rui Cerqueira reflected in 2012. "I think that kicked off the renaissance, an era when Porto were strong again."

Star players

  • Vítor Baía

    Perhaps the finest goalkeeper Portugal has produced, Baía hoarded silverware during a career spanning two decades. He accrued 80 caps and over 30 titles, including ten Liga championships, the 2003 UEFA Cup and 2004 UEFA Champions League with FC Porto. As loyal as he was agile and vocal, Baía spent his entire career with the Dragons save for a three-year sojourn at FC Barcelona, where he won the league and UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.

  • Couto

    The first Portuguese footballer to reach a century of international appearances, Couto was a highly accomplished central defender who won league titles in Portugal, Italy and Spain. A product of FC Porto, he also lifted the 1995 UEFA Cup with Parma FC and two UEFA Cup Winners' Cup titles with FC Barcelona. Senior international honours eluded him, though, and Couto retired with 110 caps after Portugal's UEFA EURO 2004 final defeat.

  • Herzog

    The first Austrian to win 100 caps, Herzog was a stylish playmaker who came through the ranks of hometown club SK Rapid Wien. He won Austrian Bundesliga titles in 1987 and 1988 and added the German version at SV Werder Bremen. The free-kick specialist had a season at FC Bayern München, winning the 1996 UEFA Cup, before returning to Bremen. He represented Austria at the 1990 and 1998 FIFA World Cups.

What happened next?

• FC Porto drew 0-0 with AC Milan on matchday six while SV Werder Bremen defeated RSC Anderlecht to finish third in Group B, two Marco Bode goals sandwiching a John Bosman effort.

• Bremen beat SC Rot-Weiss Essen in the 1993/94 German Cup final in what would prove Otto Rehhagel's swan song after 14 years at the club. He joined FC Bayern München in summer 1995.

• Hristo Stoichkov dismantled Porto in the semis, scoring twice as FC Barcelona consigned them to a 3-0 loss before the 'dream team' went down 4-0 against AC Milan in the showpiece.

• Porto finished runners-up to SL Benfica in the Liga but then began a period of unprecidented dominance with five successive titles, finishing no less than eight points clear during that run.

• Sir Bobby Robson moved to Barcelona two years later, with José Mourinho joining him, and after signing Ronaldo he lifted the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in his first season in Spain.

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