First, the Final Four of the EHF Cup, then the eighth of the Champions. The evolution of FC Porto since Magnus Andersson took over the dragons was evident – and with the reflexes known and evident in the national team. And if in national terms the derbis and classics showed that the team is above Benfica and Sporting, the ambitions of the blues and whites have also risen on the international level. They went up and continued to go up.
“60 minutes of homage to those who gave us so much”: FC Porto wins in the Champions League on a night of tears for Quintana
Almost by destination, FC Porto returned to the eighths of the main European handball competition after making history in 2019/20 and crossed again with the Danes of Aalborg, an opponent they would encounter before the pandemic canceled all competitions and that returned to play in the draw after the fifth place in group A behind Flensburg-Handewitt, PSG, Kielce and Meshkov Brest. The answer was excellent. And despite the feeling that the dragons could have won an even more expressive victory, especially because of the supremacy they had in the first half, the reaction after a ten-minute break in the second half gave them three goals ahead of the Danes who explained in a clear way just what happened at Dragão Arena.
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After a balanced start with FC Porto failing to move from the advantage of a goal, António Areia’s seven-meter free kick after a first major intervention by Mitrevski put the dragons ahead 4-2 before five minutes in which the Danes failed to score in an organized attack and the blues and whites fired to 8-3. Aalborg still had an interesting approach, but the attack of the Porto team, who so quickly marked the first line (with André Gomes in the spotlight) as exploited Daymaro Salina as a pivot or bet on the fast attack (Diogo Branquinho), raised the advance to 11-6.
Stefan Madsen stopped the game in an attempt to stagnate the climb of FC Porto’s advantage, the result was not immediate to the point that António Areia had a six-goal advantage (15-9) and only when Aalborg started to bet more in a 7 × 6 attack game more patient and exploring the second row in search of more seven meters freestyle there was a slight improvement of the Danes, who ended up losing by four goals (18-14) in a great exhibition of FC Porto especially in the offensive plan with five goals from António Areia, three from André Gomes and Daymaro Salina and just a defense of Scandinavian goalkeepers (by Mikael Aggefors).
In the second half, the dragons had an authentic blackout in offensive terms, still granting too many defensive facilities that were used in the best way by Aalborg to tie the match in ten minutes with a 6-2 partial before Mitrevski grabbed the team with two great interventions in 1 × 0 moves that catapulted again the blues and whites for the lead of the marker, with a 3-0 having Iturriza as protagonist just broken in a free kick of seven meters. It was a important moment to stabilize the team and the match ended even with three goals ahead of the blues and whites, an advance that is not decisive is very interesting to fight for an unprecedented passage to the quarters of the Champions League.
“It was a good result and the team played well. At the beginning of the second half, we made some mistakes but managed to re-enter the game. We have to be aware that the tie is in the middle and we have to have a good result in Aalborg. We played against a good team and played good handball. We controlled in the 6 × 6, we had a good defense, in the 7 × 6 we had some problems but we always knew how to react in a meeting where small details were important ”, commented at the end of the meeting Magnus Andersson.
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