Porto and Deportivo La Coruña fought out a scoreless stalemate in a tense but disjointed Champions' League semi-final first leg here last night.
There was plenty of commitment but fluent play and scoring chances were at a premium, while a bad-tempered game ended on a low note for Depor with the dismissal of the defender Jorge Andrade in the 87th minute for a petulant kick on the forward Deco.
The Spaniards had the best chance of the first half when their Uruguayan striker Walter Pandiani volleyed wide of the post from 12 yards in the ninth minute after Manuel Pablo had chipped a pass into the area after a corner.
But it was Porto who began to dominate possession, although the nearest they came to a goal was when a Carlos Alberto cross ricocheted off defender Noureddine Naybet's foot and spun over the bar eight minutes from the break.
Defences continued to have the upper hand in the second half but Porto had the best chances to win, the midfielder Maniche Ribeiro hitting the bar with a dipping drive and the substitute Edgaras Jankauskas skimming the post with a late header.
It was a largely uneventful night that put Depor in a commanding position for the return leg in Spain. The Depor coach, Javier Irureta, will have a weakened defence for the second leg, though. Andrade will miss the return match, as will the captain Mauro Silva, Andrade's partner in central defence, who was booked and will be suspended.
There were few thrills at Porto's new stadium as Depor smothered Porto's playmakers with tight marking. The sides became bogged down in a midfield dogfight and tempers occasionally flared.
"It was very tense, very difficult. It's not a bad result," Mauro Silva said. "We've got 90 minutes with the support of our home crowd to try and a get a historic result."
A crowd of 50,818 attended the match at one of the venues for the European Championships to be held in Portugal in June.
FC Porto (4-4-2): Baia; Costa, Ricardo Carvalho, Nuno Valente, P Ferreira; Costinha (Mendes, 45), Deco, Maniche, Alberto; Alenitchev (Jankauskas, 45), McCarthy (M Ferreira, 70). Substitutes not used: Nuno, Emanuel, Bosingwa, Fernandes.
Deportivo La Coruña (4-4-2): Molina; Pablo, Romero, Naybet, Andrade, Mauro Silva, Sergio (Duscher, 80), Victor (Cesar, 85), Valeron, Pandiani, Luque (Fran, 43). Substitutes not used: Munua, Capdevila, Djalminha, Tristan.
Referee: M Merk (Ger).
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