Manchester City humble Porto

Manchester City hit four past a hapless Porto.
Manchester City hit four past a hapless Porto. Getty Images Sport - Laurence Griffiths

PLAYING football in the late-afternoon drizzle, not to mention on Thursdays, is beginning to feel a little less comical than it seemed. Andre Villas-Boas, who was here to watch the side he made into reigning Europa League champions, could have been forgiven a twinge of envy for Roberto Mancini and for the spirit of European adventure which is beginning to take hold in the re-established capital of British football.


MANCHESTER CITY 4 (Aguero '1, Dzeko '76, Silva '84, Pizarro '86)


There are four rounds of Europa League competition to play and many miles around lesser appreciated areas of the Continent to travel before the notion becomes reality, but few can resist at least discussing the prospect of this season of extraordinary Manchester rivalry going all the way to a Bucharest final between City and United on 9 May.

"That would be a good final, that," Sir Alex Ferguson purred yesterday.

"A good one for us," Samir Nasri had said, 24 hours earlier.

The fates must conspire in such an outcome, since there is an open draw from the quarter-finals on. But in three weeks' time, Manchester's may be the only European story the nation has to tell this season and the manner of Porto's elimination here was certainly a declaration of intent. The result was no foregone conclusion. The defence Villas-Boas built in Portugal looked every bid as flimsy as the one he has fashioned at Chelsea, but the holders enjoyed considerable possession and forced two more of the fine saves which have made Joe Hart such a significant part of City's season

Porto's hopes of a first win in England in 16 attempts were placed in perspective in the 19 seconds it took Sergio Aguero to put City ahead. Nicolas Otamendi's wayward ball out of defence was comfortably intercepted by Nigel de Jong, who found Yaya Toure for a gorgeous ball through Porto's central defence which Aguero drilled home for his 20th goal of the season. It is a little premature in the Europa League's undistinguished history to talk of its history men, though only an AEK Athens striker, Ismael Blanco, has scored a faster goal in the tournament.

The Portuguese champions were not without a threat, especially from the Brazilian Hulk, with his low-driven crosses. But they didn't have a notion of how to deal with the drenched and muddied figure of Aguero. Rolando hacked at him and was booked. The goalkeeper, Helton, ran at him as he advanced to take a lofted pass that David Silva played after intercepting another lazy ball. Aguero nodded the ball beyond him and clipped it back over Fernando and on to the underside of the bar.

City were prepared to sit deep in the first half and damage their visitors on the counter-attack, though to judge by the assistant manager David Platt's half-time comments this seemed to be more accident than design. If others had been as sure-footed as Aguero, they might have been three ahead in any case. Nasri took a touch when he should have lifted a ball which Helton's block took to his feet. Toure decided to funnel the ball back to Aguero, five minutes from the interval, when he should have shot. This time, the Argentine blasted over.

Porto flickered after the break. James Rodriguez's effort from Maicon's low cross before the hour was only marginally offside and Toure's booking for a hack at Joao Moutinho ensured that he will miss the first leg of the last-16 tie. But Aguero instilled a sense of the indomitable in his side - foraging for a ball exchanged with Silva before playing in the unmarked Edin Dzeko for his 17th of the season.

Rolando's sense of injustice - he believed, wrongly, that Dzeko was offside - saw him dismissed for a second caution. Then there unfolded a fine, 10-minute cameo from David Pizarro, City's loan signing from Roma, who seized on another sloppy piece of Porto defence, exchanged passes with Dzeko and cut the ball back for Silva. An intricate move on the edge of Porto's box involving Pizarro and Dzeko then led the Porto substitute Christian Sapunaru to skew the ball into Pizarro's path, creating a scoreline which rather flattered City.

It was a night when the need for Carlos Tevez's return looked far-fetched. Mancini welcomes his apology but his decision to omit him from his Europa League squad does not seem a gamble.

The second of two sharp Hart saves revealed that such an emphatic elimination of a side challenging hard for Portugal's domestic lead was not a minor conquest. City mean business.

Topics:  europa league manchester city fc

Lighthouse Care wants to open in Ipswich

Lighthouse Care founder Debbie Hill said the organisation wants to expand and open a site in Ipswich.

The problem is, they are unable to find a suitable location

Gable Tostee: His own words about that fatal night

Gable Tostee

Gable Tostee talks about the pizza, the recording, and that night

LETTER: Negative energy talk frustrates Ipswich MP

South Australia's black out was triggered by an extreme weather event, not renewable energy, says Ipswich MP Jim Madden.

South Australian black out was triggered by an extreme weather event

Local Partners

Workmates honour crash victim with tribute

UPDATE: Tanya Lyell is being remembered as a young mother dedicated to her family and work as the town she called home mourns its loss.

Community garden set for Palmwoods

Kay Nixon at the Palmwoods Community Gardens will be hosting a launch day and inviting the ecommunity to come along and sign up.

Parcel of land to supply sustainable gardening for community

Things to do this week

Dragon play Ipswich Civic Centre on Friday October 28

What's on in Ipswich

Ipswich unites in march for safe world for kids

The streets turn red in one of the previous Walk for Daniel events.

Bruce and Denise continue movement

Priscilla concerned people will forget about Elvis

Priscilla Presley source Bang

She says she feels responsible to keep his legacy going

Taylor Swift files lawsuit over alleged groping

Taylor Swift source Bang

Swift has commenced legal action against a DJ over the incident

Kanye West threatens to boycott Grammys

West says he won't go to the Grammys if Frank Ocean's not nominated

Why this actress wasn't embarrassed by nude photo leak

Leslie Jones source Bang

'If you wanna see Leslie Jones naked, just ask,' she said

Festival blooms with Jacaranda trees

BLOOMING GOOD: Cr Paul Tully with the Goodna Jacarandas, in bloom ahead of the upcoming Jacaranda Festival.

This year's festival gets under way on Friday

Dad's Army comic genius Jim Perry dies

Jimmy Perry, the creator of Dad's Army.

Dad's Army series captured all that British people savour

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals

Cherrabah's mega resort plans axed

PLANS for a massive development at Cherrabah have been scrapped.

What our mayor thinks of the new draft SEQPlan

The plan to use the innovative technology as part of the new Maroochydore CBD was cemented on site today when Mayor Mark Jamieson and Envac Asia Region president Chun Yong Ha formally signed the contract for the $20 million underground waste collection system.

New plan accommodates Sunshine Coast Council's vision for growth.