Photo: gettyimages (Carlos Rodrigues)
Futebol Clube do Porto kicked off their 2015/16 season in the best way possible on Saturday night, trouncing Minho giant Vitória de Guimarães 3-0 in front of a near-capacity crowd. A brace from Cameroonian young starlet Vincent Aboubakar would prove doubters wrong after a frustrating preseason in front of goal, as the name Jackson Martinez looks to become a distant memory.
FC Porto dominated most of the match against Armando Evangelista’s largely inoffensive Vitória, with Maxi Pereira and Giannelli Imbula enjoying fine debuts, producing sumptuous assists for the 2nd and 3rd goals. Silvestre Varela also impressed on his return to the Dragão, netting a fine effort to complete the rout.
A strong start
It’s become a habit, and a good one at that, as FC Porto’s victory over Os Vimaranenses in the first match day of the 2015/16 Liga NOS season, keeping the tradition of earning three points whenever Os Dragões open their campaign at the Estádio do Dragão.
Julen Lopetegui’s charges got off to a robust start to their league campaign, making an immediate assault on Douglas’ goal. The first warning came from Imbula, who was arguably the best player in the first half, just six minutes in, as the Frenchman shot wide from the edge of the box; foreshadowing what was soon to come.
Giannelli Imbula – Porto’s Paul Pogba – proved his worth throughout
Moments later, a signature Porto combination down the left flank saw fine movement and interplay from Alex Sandro and Varela, with the former picking out Vincent Aboubakar to lash a deflected effort into the back of the net as the clock ticked just past eight minutes. The first period’s match stats would tell a tale of Os Tripeiros’ dominance, with 63% ball possession in favor of Lopetegui and co. The score line was the only kind statistic, as Porto failed to capitalize on their sheer supremacy throughout against an opponent that was never able to cope with their intensity.
Relentless pressure, swift reactions to losses in possession and assuredness when in transition embodied an intelligent and disciplined outfit led by the likes of Imbula, Aboubakar and Maxi Pereira. Complemented by Aboubakar’s constant movement and defensive exploits, Lopetegui’s Cameroonian matador put on a masterclass, with the only sign of life from Guimarães came with Alex, who forced Iker Casillas into an instinctive save.
A moment of respite for Vitória before the Porto storm
The former Real Madrid custodian would prove to be decisive in the first minutes of the second-half, getting in the way of former Porto junior Tozé’s effort. If FC Porto appeared dormant by then, the Dragons immediately awoke and did not waver in finding a response.
Cristian Tello was denied by João Afonso on the touch line, with Imbula following up the Barcelona loanee’s effort with a shot that ricocheted off the post. Nevertheless, the second goal would come minutes later from the boot of former Lorient No. 9, Aboubakar, once again. Assisted by Maxi down the right-hand side, the striker released a thunderous effort that was only stopped by the back of the net.
Aboubakar terrorized João Afonso and Josué throughout
With André André and Evandro’s inclusions bringing greater control and assuredness in the middle of the park for Imbula and Herrera’s tiring legs, Porto continued to dominate the game.
Aboubakar continued to be a menace for João Afonso and Josué, almost grabbing a hat-trick on two occasions in the tie’s last twenty minutes; but it was Varela, coming back to Estádio do Dragão with a vengeance, closing the tie and set a promising performance after receiving the ball from Maxi after the Uruguayan turned Pedro Correira inside-out.
Varela had a hand in two goals, taunting Pedro Correira all evening
FC Porto have truly kicked off their campaign for silverware in style, with Imbula justifying his price tag, as Maxi and Aboubakar proved to more than capable replacements for Danilo and Jackson, respectively. Lopetegui’s charges will now look towards a tricky tie against CS Marítimo, who comes off a frustrating 2-1 loss to Primeira Liga new boys and fellow Madeirenses União Madeira. Nonetheless, a tie at the Estádio dos Barreiros (20:45 local time) in Madeira always proves to be a tricky tie, and Ivo Vieira’s men will be more than up to the task.
FC PORTO: Casillas; Maxi Pereira, Maicon, Marcano, Alex Sandro; Danilo, Herrera (André André), Imbula (Evandro 65’); Varela (Brahimi 85’), Tello, Aboubakar
Bookings: Maxi Pereira 64’ & André André 79’
Vitória DE Guimarães: Douglas; Pedro Correira, Josué, João Afonso, Luís Rocha; Cafú, Bouba, Tozé (Montoya 77’); Alex (Vigário 88’), Tomané, Henrique Dourado (Valente 69’)
Bookings: Bouba 31’, Tomané 88’ & Luís Rocha 89’
[1-0] Aboubakar 8’
[2-0] Aboubakar 61’
[3-0] Varela 84’
Attendance: 48, 509