06/04/2009 20:50, Report by Ben Hibbs
United 2 Porto 2
An off-colour and tired-looking United were held to a 2-2 draw by an impressive Porto team, blowing this last eight Champions League tie wide open and leaving it all to do for the Reds in Portugal next week.
At first it looked like the Reds would get absolutely nothing from the game after a poor start and going a goal down after five minutes. Wayne Rooney equalised shortly after, then with five minutes remaining Carlos Tevez thought he’d given United victory. But it was snatched away in the 89th minute. It’s all do at Estadio do Dragao.
Sir Alex made four changes from the team that won so dramatically on Sunday in injury time; Rooney, Nemanja Vidic, Paul Scholes and Ji-sung Park all coming into the team. But just two days after those spectacular late scenes against Aston Villa, it was already a physically demanding task. And Porto came flying out of the traps and caught the Reds off guard.
Lisandro fired an early warning shot with a fierce effort after two minutes, then three minutes later Cristiano Ronaldo and Jonny Evans both conceded possession in quick succession. Porto pounced as Cristian Rodriguez curled a left-footed shot beyond Edwin van der Sar. The task at home in Europe is always not to concede an away goal, and the clean sheet had been surrendered inside five minutes. If United needed a jolt to shake off heavy legs from the weekend, that was it.
The Reds needed to regain some composure; the first chance arrived on 13 minutes and lifted a surprisingly muted support, perhaps understandable given United’s cagey start. Rooney’s ball out to John O’Shea allowed the Irishman to cross, and a deflection earned a corner. From Rooney’s subsequent centre, Ronaldo headed goalwards but Helton saved brilliantly.
In truth, United's equaliser was a gift. Bruno Alves inexplicably failed to look before passing the ball to his keeper. Rooney was lurking and gladly dinked the ball over Helton to level.