Porto progress to knockout stage with win over Athletic Bilbao


In-form Porto sealed their place in the Champions League knockout stages with a 2-0 win over Group H strugglers Athletic Bilbao. The result eliminates the Spaniards and sees Porto through with two games to spare. In a first half of few chances, Porto's Colombian striker Jackson Martinez squandered the best, heading wide from close range on 25 minutes, while a long-range free-kick drilled right-footed by Maicon was tipped around the post by Gorka Iraizoz. Porto, who have won their last three domestic games to lie second in the Primeira Liga behind Benfica, were then handed a golden chance to break the deadlock. Bilbao defender Mikel Balenziaga brought down da Silva Danilo on 42 minutes and referee Felix Brych pointed to the penalty spot. However, Martinez fired his penalty over the bar as the La Liga side were given a let off. Porto's front man made up for his error 10 minutes into the second half when he bundled home a cross from Yacine Brahimi to open the scoring. Iraizoz then rescued the Spaniards with another save from Brahimi's free kick midway through the second half, and two minutes later Fernandez Guillermo's header from Gomez Ibai's free-kick at the other end rebounded off a post. The game was sealed in the 73rd minute when a goalkeeping howler from Iraizoz allowed Brahimi to tap the ball home for Porto's second goal. Further chances came and went for the Portuguese side but the scoreline remained unchanged, with the hosts unable to register a shot on target throughout the game. When Brych blew the final whistle, Porto were able to celebrate a success which sees them remain two points clear of Shakhtar Donetsk at the top of the Group H – and assured of a place in the last-16 of the competition with two matches still to play.