Club News

Albion 1 FC Porto 3

Olsson bags consolation as classy tourists prove too strong

ALBION got the thorough examination Alan Irvine predicted as they were sentenced to defeat in their final pre-season friendly by a classy Porto side.

The Portuguese giants deservedly got their noses in front in the 22nd minute through Casemiro before Jonas Olsson levelled five minutes before the break, with both goals coming from corners.

But Porto stepped up a gear after the break and effectively sealed victory with two goals in three minutes from skipper Jackson Martinez during the opening stages of the second period.

The Hawthorns looked resplendent as the highest ground above sea level in the country prepared to host its first game of the 2014/15 campaign.

Four of Albion’s summer recruits – fit-again Sebastien Pocognoli, Andre Wisdom, Craig Gardner and Chris Baird – were all granted their non-competitive home debuts.

Stephane Sessegnon returned to the bench after international duty with Benin while record signing Brown Ideye, who arrived in the country yesterday, was in the stands to see his new team in action for the first time.

With Porto just six days away from the start of their league campaign, and 11 days ahead of their Champions League qualifying play-off first leg at Lille, this was an important part of their build-up.

The tourists, who finished third in their domestic league last term and impressed during a 1-1 draw at Everton last Sunday, started well.

Skipper Martinez and Cristian Tello both failed to trouble Ben Foster’s goal with early efforts from inside the box. Then, on 15, the Albion No.1 was well positioned to deal with Danilo’s thunderous 25-yard shot.

Porto’s 300-plus supporters, mainly camped in the Millennium Corner, made themselves heard as their side predictably bossed possession.

Albion, in truth, had struggled to get out of their own half and fell behind on 22 from a set-piece. Casemiro was left unmarked as he ghosted onto Tello’s left-wing corner and tapped home from two yards.

There was no lack of effort, but the Baggies just could not get a foothold in the game against their illustrious opponents and Tello went close on 26 when he dragged a 20-yard shot just wide of the left-hand post.

However, Albion almost levelled on 29. The industrious Youssouf Mulumbu advanced into the Porto box before squaring to Saido Berahino, who scrambled the ball past Maicon before seeing his cheeky chip blocked by on-rushing keeper Andres.

Porto, who face Maritimo at home on Friday, threatened next and Olsson did well to get in the way of Martinez’s close-range effort from Hector Herrara’s low centre.

But Albion were level on 40. Chris Brunt’s terrific right-wing corner was headed down at the back post by the towering Olsson and the ball just crossed the line, despite the best efforts of defender Oliver Torres and keeper Andres.

The half ended with Herrara shooting just over from 20 yards.

Irvine began the second half with the same team – but they fell behind again just six minutes after the restart.

Sub Ricardo Quaresma’s right-wing centre deflected off Pocognoli’s outstretched leg and looped perfectly onto the head of Martinez, who made no mistake from six yards.

Moments later, Foster showed a safe pair of hands to keep out Herrara’s low drive from just inside the box.

But the England keeper could do nothing to prevent Porto making it 3-1 in the 54th minute. Alex Sandro raced down the left before dinking the ball towards the penalty spot and Martinez just got in front of Olsson to direct a superb left-footed strike into the far corner.

Porto’s pedigree was plain for the 8,670-strong crowd to see and Foster was called into action again five minutes later, as he dealt with Sandro’s speculative 30-yard drive.

Irvine rang a double change on 61, replacing Brunt and Mulumbu with Sessegnon and Victor Anichebe.

Three minutes later, Porto swarmed up-field from a poor Graham Dorrans corner and Foster had to make a flying save to keep out Quaresma’s swirling 25-yard shot.

It was proving a busy afternoon for the former Blues keeper and he pulled off another fine stop to keep out the same player’s angled shot on 74.

Albion fashioned an opening of their own six minutes from time but Gardner could only direct his 15-yard effort straight at Andres.

ALBION (4-2-3-1): Foster; Wisdom, Dawson, Olsson, Pocognoli (Yacob 85); Baird, Mulumbu (Anichebe 61); Dorrans, Gardner, Brunt © (Sessegnon 61); Berahino. Subs not used: Myhill (gk), O’Neil, Garmston, Roofe, A Nabi.

FC PORTO (4-3-3): Andres; Danilo (Evandro 78), Maicon, Reyes, Sandro (Angel 85); Casemiro (Neves HT), Herrera (85), Torres (Quaresma HT); Tello (Lopez HT), Martinez © (Pereira 64), Brahimi (Quintero 68). Subs not used: Fabiano (gk), Nunes (gk), Eduardo, Kelvin, Defour, Igor.

GOALS: ALBION – Olsson (40). PORTO – Casemiro (22), Martinez (51 & 54).


REFEREE: N Swarbrick (Lancashire).