Mexico will have two representatives in the UEFA Champions League Elite Eight as Porto defeated Roma.
Porto reached the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League (UCL) in dramatic fashion, winning its fourth straight UCL match at home to get past Roma in overtime thanks to two controversial calls. Team Mexico stars Hector Herrera and Jesus Corona contributed to the Porto win.
With the result, Hector Herrera (pictured at top) and Jesus Corona advance in the prestigious European tournament, the only Mexicans remaining in continental competitions after Real Betis (with Andres Guardado and Diego Lainez) were eliminated in the Europa League last week.
Porto entered Wednesday’s match at the Estadio Dragao with a 2-1 deficit after Roma won the first leg in Italy. Francisco Soares “Tiquinho” and Moussa Marega scored during regulation – bracketing a penalty kick conversion by Roma captain Daneile De Rossi – forcing overtime, knotted at 3-3.
Corona – a product of the Monterrey Rayados youth system – was a nightmare for the Roma defense throughout the first half from the wing, keeping them on their heels with his dribbling skills and passing. “Tecatito” also came close close with two shots in the game’s first 20 minutes.
Herrera – a graduate of Pachuca’s academy – wore the captain’s armband and was a steadying force in midfield all night with crisp passing on offense and persistently chasing the ball on defense.
More from Viva Liga MX
- Guillermo Ochoa is out 4-6 weeks
- The Clásico Regiomontano is Heating Up
- Pumas: In Search of Regaining a Top Spot
- Why the United States Is Set to Overtake Mexico on the World Stage
- Erick Gutierrez is out once again
In minute 26, Marega stole the ball in midfield and dropped it to “Tecatito” who carried it forward down the left channel, returning it to Marega who made an overlapping run on Corona’s outside. Marega zipped a low cross onto the foot of “Tiquinho” who redirected the ball into the net.
Ten minutes later Roma was back in the driver’s seat after a penalty called on Eder Miltao that De Rossi converted, making the aggregate 3-2 Roma.
Early in the second half, Corona was at it again. “Tecatito” dribbled past Roma fullback Rick Karsdorp wide left and sent a low cross to the back post where Marega stretched out his right foot to knock it home. The global score was now 3-3.
Corona was subbed out in minute 70 or else he might have gotten consideration for Man of the Match. Herrera also played a fine match, directing offensive possessions from midfield, keeping his teammates in position and chasing back on defense. The Porto skipper forced Roma goalie Robin Olsen to make a flying save just before half time.
As overtime ticked away, both teams were showing signs of exhaustion. Herrera was really struggling at the end
Late in the second overtime period, the video assistant referee (VAR) called down to ref Cuneyt Çakir to take a look at a possible foul. Porto defender Maxi Perreira had sent a low cross through the box and Roma defender Allesandro Florenzi had tugged Fernando’s jersey. Fernando might not have been able to get his foot on the cross, but there was no doubt about the foul.
Alex Telles stepped up to the spot and converted the penalty, putting Porto ahead 4-3 on aggregate.
Minutes later, Çakir was notified of another possible penalty, this time against Porto. The game was stopped for several agonizing minutes as Çakir chatted with the VAR and together they determined not to penalize Marega for his foul. The non-call was questionable, but Porto could breath again.
Herrera played the entire game but he was shown a yellow card early in the match and so he will be suspended for the first leg of the quarterfinals due to accumulation of yellow cards.
With Herrera’s strong performance, the rumors of his summer departure from Porto to a bigger European club will surely spike. Atletico de Madrid is among the teams that have shown interest in the midfielder who hails from Rosarito, Baja California.