Going unbeaten in their final eight league games helped Porto to their highest league position in over five years. The club, who finished 5th last season finished level on points with surprise package Vitória de Guimarães but were above due to a better record. Both sides, however, were 13 points behind league champions Sporting, a gap the Porto boss must work to close next season.
With two games remaining Porto sat 3rd in the league but with their Champions League spot under pressure from Benfica in 4th. They then faced a crunch game away in Guimarães with the winner being almost assured of second. The game was a nervy clash, neither side looking to commit to a mistake. Into the final 10 minutes and Guimarães held the advantage, a 0-0 draw suiting their needs far more than Porto’s. That all changed when Andres Cubas unleashed a strike from 25 yards following a poorly cleared corner to seal the game for the away side. It was only Cubas’ second goal of the season in his 45 appearances but came with impeccable timing.
That left just one game to go and, although they made tough work of it, the 3-2 win at Moreirense was more comfortable than the scoreline suggests. Porto had not been as high as 2nd since the sixth round of fixtures but hit form when it mattered to qualify for the Champions League group stages.
It is likely no coincidence that Porto’s form improved following their disappointing exit from the Europa League to Anderlecht. After overcoming Everton previously there were still big sides remaining in the quarter final draw. Porto fans could have been forgiven for celebrating when Anderlecht were drawn as their opponents. A 1-0 home defeat in the first leg however made the tie all the more difficult. Despite taking the lead in Belgium, Anderlecht came back into the game to equalise. Porto attacked in the final stages but were unable to find that winning goal.
Porto’s aim for this season was to qualify for the Champions League and they did that. With the manager now having had a full season with the players they will be looking to close the gap in the league table. Their boss had the following to say after the season:
“Overall it was a good season. We lost games we shouldn’t have and the gap to the top was too big. We are proud of what we have achieved but our trophy cabinet is still gathering dust. Next season will be tough but I want to bring glory back to this great club.”
The future looks bright for Porto as their B side finished runner up in the second league. That is Porto B’s highest league position for some time. Made up mostly of players who are under 23 they should see some game time in the coming season.
Along with the youth, the addition of Marco Asensio for the coming season, improves the first XI. If Porto are to be taken seriously this season though they need to compete better against the other big teams in the league.