Porto roll through to Champions League quarters with rout of Basel
Two stunning free-kicks from Yacine Brahimi and Casemiro helped Porto power past Basel to reach the last eight of the UEFA Champions League with a 4-0 second leg victory which secured a 5-1 aggregate success.
Hector Herrera and Vincent Aboubakar grabbed the other goals as Porto eased to victory over the Swiss side, who had Walter Samuel sent off late on. However, the night was soured slightly for the hosts as Porto captain Danilo was taken to hospital in a neck brace after a sickening clash with his goalkeeper Fabiano.
Basel manager Paulo Sousa had a clear game plan of keeping things tight in the early stages and hitting the hosts on the counter, but Porto started brightly and got the early goal their play deserved. On 14 minutes, Cristian Tello was brought down clumsily on the edge of the box by Walter Samuel and after lining up his effort for what seemed like an age, Brahimi stepped up and fired a dipping strike into the top corner.
Casemiro nearly doubled the lead in spectacular fashion from 40 yards just minutes later but his clever effort brushed the top of the net with Basel goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik beaten. Casemiro would get his moment of glory later in the game. The game was then stopped for five minutes when Danilo received treatment on a head injury after Fabiano needlessly came charging out of his goal to clear some danger and caught his defender flush in the face with his shoulder.
Danilo looked to have been knocked unconscious by the impact and was taken off on a stretcher before being loaded into an ambulance, although he had regained consciousness by then. The shock of seeing their captain taken off to hospital didn’t deter Porto from their task in hand and they doubled their lead on 47 minutes.
Brahimi created the chance down the left with a twisting and turning run and his cut back to Herrera was finished brilliantly from the edge of the area. The best was yet to come though as Casemiro took center stage with an incredible free-kick from 30 yards. There seemed little danger when he ran up to the ball but it was a goal from the moment it left his foot, flying like an arrow past Vaclik at a ferocious pace into the top corner.
Porto kept up their relentless attacking momentum and made it 4-0 with 14 minutes remaining. Aboubakar, who was playing in place of the injured Jackson Martinez, skipped past Samuel before rocketing a strike that left Vaclik grasping at thin air. The victory takes Porto’s tally to 21 goals in the Champions League this season and they will be a tough nut to crack in the quarterfinals.
Julen Lopetegui lauded his "superb" Porto team as one of Europe’s best after the victory in Portugal.
He added: "It is a great day for all the players, who are happy. As a coach I’m very proud of them."
Goal.com’s Ryan Benson and information from FOXSoccer.com’s newswire services contributed to this report.