17 September 2014 22:43
A scintillating Yacine Brahimi hat-trick propelled Porto to a 6-0 win over BATE in their UEFA Champions League Group H opener on Wednesday.
The 27-time Portuguese champions claimed just one home point from a possible nine before failing to reach the knockout stages in last season’s competition, but an early opener and a superb second from the Algeria winger put them firmly in control at the Estadio do Dragao.
Jackson Martinez, with his 67th goal on his 101st Porto appearance, made it 3-0 with a bullet header before the break and Brahimi completed his treble when he curled home a brilliant free-kick before going off to a standing ovation after 59 minutes.
Adrian Lopez and Vincent Aboubakar scored their first goals since joining from Atletico Madrid and Lorient respectively, ensuring that Porto comfortably recorded their biggest Champions League victory in what was their 200th appearance in Europe’s elite club competition.
Julen Lopetegui’s side have now also kept clean sheets in six of their past seven outings in all competitions.
Lopetegui urged his Porto players to get an early goal in the build-up to the game, and it took Brahimi merely five minutes to do precisely that.
BATE goalkeeper Sergei Chernik inexplicably threw the ball out to the Algeria winger, who burst into the box and thundered it into the roof of the net from an acute angle.
With Ricardo Quaresma producing a couple of crowd-pleasing flicks and Brahimi looking dangerous every time he received possession, Porto appeared in complete control.
But the home side nevertheless required the alertness and bravery of goalkeeper Fabiano to stay in front after 11 minutes.
Vitali Rodionov arched a fine pass behind the Porto defence for Mikhail Gordeychuk to run on to, but Fabiano rushed from his line, flung himself at the feet of the Belarus midfielder and gathered the ball.
Martinez then volleyed the ball against the outside of the post before Chernik made a great save from a Maicon header following a superb left-wing cross from Alex Sandro.
Brahimi made it 2-0 just after the half-hour mark – and in electrifying fashion.
The 24-year-old, signed from Granada for just a €6.5million after he impressed at the FIFA World Cup, collected possession in his own half, sprinted past one challenge to the edge of the box, cut inside another and unleashed a fierce, low drive that went in off the inside of the post.
It got worse for BATE eight minutes before half-time. A defensive mistake allowed Danilo time and space down the right and, from the 23-year-old’s excellent cross, Martinez got in front of his man and powerfully headed home.
Illya Aleksiyevich tested Fabiano at the start of the second half, but it was merely brief respite from incessant Porto pressure.
Quaresma hypnotised his marker with step-overs and produced a brilliant cross from the right. Martinez once again had the desire and strength to beat his man to the ball, only to see his thumping header come back off the crossbar.
Brahimi then darted through the midfield and drew a free-kick on the edge of the box. The former Rennes and Granada player took it himself, curling the ball over the wall and inside the post after 57 minutes.
It was 5-0 four minutes later, Lopez pouncing on a loose ball in the area and flicking it over the onrushing Chernik.
And Aboubakar, unmarked in the box, completed the rout after 76 minutes.