The Europa League quarterfinals kicked off today and the match at hand was FC Porto taking on Sevilla in the first leg in Portugal. The game was decided by a sensational diving header by French center-back Eliaquim Mangala in favor of the hosts.
With the 1-0 victory in the books, there are some notes from the match that need to be put on display. First, midfielder Fernando was ejected after receiving a yellow and a red within the same minute a bit of lip towards the referee, which was unneeded. The referee should have stuck with the yellow as it was the softest red given in a long time. Regardless, what is done is done, unless they complain to UEFA and ask for the card to be rescinded.
Substitute and number 10 Juan Quintero hit the field running with energy that was frankly too much for him to handle. His skill and speed are useful, but his tendency to hold the ball too long caused him to lose the ball twice in three minutes. At this level, that is unacceptable, especially for a kid who wears that number and plays with such talented players around him. He needs to pass the ball a bit more and use his skill only when necessary.
This team needs to finish its chances. Ricardo Quaresma is known for cutting the ball back then ripping a shot that usually hits the spot. In addition, Jackson Martinez — who plays up top — had some trouble being his regular dangerous self in front of the net. He dropped back quite a bit to help with his midfielders. That should not be his job as the wingers are responsible for helping that middle three.
If he does not drop back as much next week, he should be able slice his way into open gaps to fire on frame.
Sevilla will be much more confident next week in front of their own fans as they allowed Porto to run the show today. Look for Ivan Rakitic to hold the ball and distribute under pressure to teammates who will certainly be hungrier this time around. Carlos Bacca, Jose Reyes and others will be looking to press even harder to at least find the equalizer on aggregate to force extra time. The task will not be easy though, as Porto are just as dangerous on the road.