Porto coach Jesualdo Ferreira said he was “very proud” of his players following the away-goals defeat of Atletico Madrid which secured a place in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.
The sides drew 0-0 on Wednesday night, but the Portuguese outfit went through to the last eight courtesy of the 2-2 draw they secured in Madrid a fortnight ago.
“I want to say a big thank you to my players and to our fans; the fans because they stood by our side for the entire match and the players because they did exactly what I asked them to do,” he said.
“We improved a lot after the break but we were better from start to finish. We were always in control and we were the only team really willing to win the match. We were once again unlucky in front of the goal and for me Atlético’s goalkeeper [Leo Franco] was the man of the match, as he was in Madrid.
“We are among the eight best teams in Europe and that makes me very proud of my team. I was a bit surprised with the cautious way Atlético started the match but maybe that was their strategy.
“They showed they had learned their lesson in Spain and managed to improve defensively. We are even more confident now and I truly believe we can provide a challenge for anybody in the next round.”
Atletico coach Abel Resino bemoaned his side’s exit despite boasting an undefeated record since the group stage began in September.
“The main objective was to reach half-time in a good position and then to try and win the tie in the second-half,” he said. “However, we lacked the physical strength to achieve such a goal.
“Football is often cruel and we are out of the competition despite the fact we didn’t lose a single match [from the group stage onwards], while Porto lost two. If we had managed to score a goal here then Porto would have been forced to come forward and we could have taken advantage of that. That didn’t happen and they were always very cautious.
“This was a completely different game compared to those [in the Spanish Liga] against Barcelona and Real Madrid. Porto have great speed going forward with their three attackers and there’s not a lot of Spanish teams that play like that. They were better than us in Madrid and tonight they didn’t take any risks.”