From the home of Mourinho, Ronaldo and Xavier
It has been 11 years since we have seen GD Chaves in the Portuguese top flight. The historical club from Trás-os-Montes is today a mere shadow of its former self and the time when Chaves were regarded as very tough nut to crack at their home turf is long gone.
Still, despite a poor season that saw them relegated from Liga Vitalis, Chaves rolled back the years and went to the final of the Portuguese Cup for the very first time in their history. On their way to Estádio do Jamor, Chaves defeated Liga Sagres boys Paços de Ferreira and Naval and were looking for yet another upset.
Their opponents: FC Porto. The Dragons didn’t enjoy the best of seasons, but after the return of trick artist Hulk their form greatly improved and they wanted to end the 2009/2010 campaign on a high with another piece of silverware and some closure.
People usually say there are no favourites in a Cup final as ‘anything can happen’, but only the most diehard Chaves fan would actually believe in a famous triumph over Porto.
It was the Trás-os-Montes side that had the first real opportunity though, as forward Edu saw his effort hit the post after making a gut-busting run onto a long pass. They would get a reality check five minutes later when Colombian midfielder Freddy Guarín broke the deadlock with a low shot that keeper Rui Rego should have saved
From the beginning it was impossible not to notice the gap in quality between the two sides and Hulk in particular created many problems for Chaves’s sluggish backline. The Dragons eventually reached a second goal in the 23rd minute when Belluschi picked out Hulk who had all the time in the world to tee-up hitman Falcao for the easy tap-in
Before the break Porto continued to push for more goals and wasted a few clear cut opportunities, but in the second-half Jesualdo Ferreira’s men slowed down the tempo and were happy to control possession.
A late lapse from Bruno Alves allowed sub Clement to hit one back from Chaves and ensured a more dramatic finish, but the unlikely equalized never came
In the end and as expected, Porto lifted their 15th Portuguese Cup, a consolation prize to a dismal season while Chaves can hold their heads high as they never stopped fighting against a vastly superior opponent.
Porto Starting XIHelton; Miguel Lopes, Bruno Alves, Rolando, Alvaro Pereira; Fernando, Raul Meireles, Guarín, Belluschi; Hulk, Falcao
Chaves Starting XIRego; Danilo, Lameirão, Ricardo Rocha, Eduardo; Bamba, Bruno Magalhães, Castanheira, Samson, Edu; Diop
Jesualdo Ferreira was coy about his future at Porto, but despite the public support of some players, the veteran tactician still looks odds-on to leave. Is it the end of a cycle at the club or should Ferreira be given another opportunity?
After the match, Bruno Alves admitted he would like better conditions for both his life and career, a statement that can be read as a desire to play in a better league. With Lyon expected to offer a fee in the €15-20 million region, will the club captain leave? And what would that mean for Porto?
Had Chaves played in Liga Vitalis as valiantly as they did last Sunday, would they be relegated? II Divisão - Portuguese third tier - is a tough place to be stuck in as not even the winner is guaranteed to be promoted, but can they pull a Newcastle and bounce back in just one season?
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