Beware Porto. The Portuguese giants will be a tough out in the quarter-final stage of the Champions League.
On Tuesday, following a 1-1 draw at St-Jakob Park in the first leg, the Dragons overcame an early injury to star right-back Danilo and proceeded to incinerate round-of-16 opponents Basel, scoring four spectacular goals and progressing on 5-1 aggregate.
Squawka Football @Squawka
FC Porto 4-0 Basel FT (5-1 agg): Shots: 13-6 Possession: 51%-49% Chances created: 8-4 Pass success: 82%-78% http://t.co/8Myh6PyDyj2015-3-10 21:42:13
Both Yacine Brahimi and Casemiro found the back of the net from free-kick situations on either side of the break, while Hector Herrera's long-range effort also beat goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik. With 14 minutes remaining, Vincent Aboubakar dribbled at the shaky Basel defense before rounding out the scoring with an eye-catching strike of his own.
It was all too much for the Swiss outfit, who finished the match with 10 men after Walter Samuel fouled Aboubakar in stoppage time to pick up his second yellow card of the night.
#Porto full of beautiful goals today. Casemiro with the latest. https://t.co/KFF7b88XYZ2015-3-10 21:05:35
Incisive, aggressive and deservingly victorious, Porto exhibited mesmerising flair at Estadio do Dragao and will now look to carry their momentum into the next round of Europe's most prestigious club competition, which they have won on two occasions.
Even more impressive, Porto won on Tuesday for the most part without star right-back Danilo, who was subbed off after 22 minutes with an apparent injury. Substitute Bruno Martins Indi delivered an impressive performance in relief and Alex Sandro excelled after swapping the left-hand side of the defense for the right.
.@Casemiro_92: MotM vs Basel, Rating 9.87, Shots(OT) 3(1), Goals 1, Tackles 8, Interceptions 6, Dribbles 1 @FCPorto http://t.co/h8OQWcyDKc2015-3-10 21:56:33
There really was no "other" team on Tuesday; there was only Porto, having their way over the expanse of the pitch and scoring goal after spellbinding goal.
Shortly after Brahimi's opener, the 23-year-old collided with his own goalkeeper, Fabiano, and was subsequently stretchered to ambulance by the medical staff. As per Fox Sports, he was taken to hospital with a suspected concussion.
No doubt the Brazilian's absence will leave a significant hole in the side for as long as it takes him to recover, but if his teammates showed anything over the remainder of Tuesday's match, it's that the system imposed by manager Julen Lopetegui is more important than any individual player.
Martins Indi and Alex Sandro were proof of that against Basel, although Porto's exploits at the opposite end of the field more than compensated for any shortcoming in defense that might have arisen after Danilo's injury.
Herrera, the midfield connector, not only scored from distance but also assisted Aboubakar's goal and, according to WhoScored.com, completed 87 percent of his passes. Casemiro, meanwhile, was the standout performer on the night and hit a sumptuous free-kick to go along with his 81 touches and eye-popping eight tackles.
David Cartlidge @davidjaca
Héctor Herrera’s had some game for Porto. Still shutting down Basel players when 3-0 up and at 70+ minutes. Lots of energy, good movement.2015-3-10 21:26:47
He was a stud in the centre of the park, and as parent club Real Madrid struggled to see off Schalke in the evening's other match, it was lost on no one just how much Casemiro could have offered to Los Blancos, who have now lost back-to-back matches in all competitions.
Evandro also impressed in the Porto midfield, passing all over the field and providing cover for Herrera and Casemiro, both of whom had their tails up from kick-off. And central defenders Maicon and Marcano, both Brazilians, barely put a foot wrong at the back and helped make Marco Streller's final European outing a mostly forgettable affair.
Marcano, however, will miss the first leg of the quarter-finals through suspension after being booked in the 55th minute.
Still, it's hard to see Porto missing a beat, and the team that draws them in the next round will have a tricky assignment on their hands.
This is a side that strikes when they sense it's their time, and their time could be now.