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FEATURE: It was a history in the making for FC Porto Vitalis on Sunday night as they beat Dunkerque to get their premiere points in the Group Phase. The main factor - no downfall in the second half.

»EHF CL Channel »2013-14 Men's News

Dragon flying higher

The second halves had been a problem for the Portuguese champions, but that curse finally ended against Dunkerque last Sunday, allowing FC Porto to get their first points and also, first win ever in Champions League match played in Dragao Caixa.

Porto proved more than once that, despite being inferior in terms of reputation in the handball world, they could go against the best sides in Europe like Kolding Kobenhavn, Kielce, and Kiel (where they were ahead by one goal at the break!). Still, their performance dropped immensely in the second periods, which gave the other sides the opportunity to score two or three goals without a response.

Mick Schubert’s answer to this decisive factor? “We get tired, there were several games during the week, which eventually brings us down physically,” explained the blue Danish after the game against THW Kiel.

This fatigue was clear in the first three matches of FC Porto, but their fourth proved their recent Champions League experience improved them in patience, and also, in managing their physical condition. 13-11 was the result at the half, and when the players came out of the dressing room, it seemed the curse would continue, once they lost intensity, were getting impatient and missed some early shots, some of them by Joao Ferraz.

Still, something happened, blind to the naked eye, it seemed a normal timeout but the right back stated to ehfcl.com after the game. “It was decisive. The click came from that timeout. Professor Obradovic warned us in order to prevent our drop of performance from happening again, that we had to be more focused and be objective in our attacks, it was right on time,” Ferraz said.

That click had an instant impact on the game, the players and the fans, who also woke up to make a huge pressure on Dunkerque, and the truth is… they began missing. “Our defence was great, we only conceded 21 goals. We defended very well and that was decisive for our win,” added Obradovic in the press conference.

The level of the whistling that came from the stands when the French had the ball became unbearable and this only helped Hugo Laurentino (who only came in in the second half) to have 41% of efficiency in his saves.

Then, a moment of scare for the home supporters, who saw their captain, Ricardo Moreira, leave the pitch with an injury (duration yet to be known).

Miguel Sarmento came in to the right wing, and with three minutes to go, he proved to be a match-winner. With less than two minutes to go the score was 21-21, and while the fans had their hearts on their hands, Tiago Rocha (line player) ran the whole court conducting the counter-attack (very unusual), only to release the pressure to Miguel Sarmento (that did not even warm up).

This pressure did not affect him and he scored an historical goal to be reviewed several times: the goal that gave the Dragons their first win in Dragao Caixa in a Champions League edition. Speaking exclusively to ehfcl.com after the end of the match, right wing was humble: “I’m sure Ricardo would score that goal! Still, I’m very happy to have scored that goal, and above all it was incredible to see the joy in the fans face, how they exploded with that 22nd goal.”

Champions League experience seems to be getting into the Dragons veins, and the more games they play, the better they do. “We can do better. We have three important players out and when they return, we will be stronger and more stable,” promised Obradovic.

TEXT: Carlos J Santos / br