point each ensures pair progress published: thursday 7 december 2006, 0.50cet
fc porto 0-0 arsenal fc
a stalemate was enough for the english side to secure first place in group g ahead of their opponents.
by graham hunter from estádio do dragão
arsenal fc and fc porto made their way into the last 16 of the uefa champions league as winners and runners-up respectively in group g after a goalless but thrilling encounter in portugal.
point required both sides knew before kick-off that a point would be enough for them to hold off pfc cska moskva and secure progress but the portuguese champions constantly pressed for the victory that would have taken them through as section leaders, with ricardo quaresma twice striking the post early in the second half. the hosts were unable to capitalise on their superiority, however, allowing arsenal to clinch top spot courtesy of their 2-0 home success in the reverse fixture on matchday 2.
quaresma industry any cynics who viewed the game as an opportunity for these clubs, each with a uefa champions league final appearance in the last three seasons, to relax were confounded by quaresma. the mercurial winger tormented the arsenal defence from the outset, making light work of the visitors' five-man midfield and finding space to exhibit his dazzling array of skills. quaresma started the night on porto's left wing and in fucile he found a willing partner, the left-back drifting inside aleksandr hleb in the 22nd minute and finding hélder postiga with a precise pass though the striker could only shoot straight at jens lehmann.
porto press with the suspended thierry henry's replacement, emmanuel adebayor, more static and isolated than the frenchman tends to be, arsenal struggled to retain possession. as wenger emerged from his dugout to demand more impact from his players quaresma added to the sense of menace, flighting an outrageous lob from 40 metres that even the tall lehmann had to stretch to hold underneath his crossbar. as porto hit their rhythm, quaresma and lisandro lopéz swapped flanks and the switch almost paid dividends within moments as only a top-class intervention from kolo touré prevented postiga from heading his team in front, before paulo assunção threatened with a superb long-range drive.
arsenal escapes within three minutes of the restart quaresma came close to finally earning his reward with a goal as lucho gonzález laid a perfect pass beyond gaël clichy for the overlapping lisandro lopéz, whose cross fell for quaresma to crack a right-footed shot off the post with lehmann beaten. although cesc fabregas replied with a free-kick into the arms of helton, porto were in total command, and just before the hour quaresma tricked his way past johan djourou on the edge of the area and once more his attempt beat lehmann only for the same post to come to arsenal's rescue.
opponents satisfied however, fabregas worked tirelessly to ensure that arsenal were not totally overrun and late substitute robin van persie added energy to arsenal's efforts to push the contest towards the porto penalty box. ultimately, though, both sides were more than happy with the point, although cska's defeat at hamburger sv meant they would have advanced regardless of the result here.