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Porto 1-0 Napoli: Napoli come up against some awfully bad luck

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Giuseppe Bellini

While Napoli could've done better for the first half-hour or so, the visitors also came up against some mighty bad luck against Porto. Helton was either a hero in goal or spectacularly adept at being in exactly the right place at the right time - much to the distress of the partenopei.

The majority of the first half was absolutely dreadful - for us Napoli fans, anyway. Ricardo Quaresma might be getting up there in years, but he sure knew that Anthony Réveillère was a weak spot, and kept coming back again and again, torturing the right back.

In the 12th minute, Pepe Reina made a fantastic save to deny Jackson Martínez, who'd easily slipped between Raúl Albiol and Miguel Britos. The keeper's quick reflexes allowed him to tip the ball over the bar...thank goodness.

Less than ten minutes later, however, Porto did have the ball in the back of the net. After Reina saved his side's skin yet again by pushing away a shot from Steven Defour, but Porto seized on the loose ball. Carlos Eduardo headed in from the back post, but the goal was ruled offside.

Replays showed that, um, there really was no offside. But Napoli will take it.

It was only in the last ten minutes or so (and that might be being generous) of the first half that Napoli managed to apply some pressure. Alas, they must've had that fire extinguished somewhere in the dressing room, because practically as soon as the whistle blew to start the second half, Fernando sent in a sharp shot that, once again, Reina was able to deny.

Then came Napoli. Except the problem was that Porto had apparently put some sort of secret voodoo curse on their goal. It wasn't so much that Helton did a fantastic job - it was more that the Brazilian keeper seemed to have some sort of force field operating around him. First, he denied Gonzalo Higuaín with the inside of his boot. Then, less than a minute later, a header from Albiol was on target, but again, it bounced off Helton.

Soon after, in what was possibly the biggest blunder of the night, Higuaín managed to finally get the ball past the keeper, but the ball collided with José Callejón and rather than falling into the back of the empty net, it bounced out. It was rather comical...to non-Napoli fans anyway.

It didn't help that, just after Ziggy's blunder, Porto finally managed to get the better of Reina. The defense couldn't get the ball out of the danger zone and the loose ball fell to - who else - Martínez. The Colombian hit it on the half volley, and its slight deflection off Albiol meant Reina was caught wrong footed.

Rafa Benítez tried to change things up by putting on Dries Mertens for Marek Hamšík, who'd once again been rather anonymous (perhaps he's just trying to not attract attention in the summer transfer window?) Then Napoli got Rafa'd, with Ziggy coming off in favor of Goran Pandev.

With less than ten minutes left to play, Porto gave us all heart attacks again, in a series of shots that really can't be described due to the fact that first my eyes were squeezed shut and then I was laughing hysterically. Reina performed yet another save, Albiol made a last-ditch effort, the post dropped by to help, and somehow, Porto remained up by just one goal.

Immediately after, Duván Zapata, on for Pipita, nearly had the chance to be a hero. Helton was beaten, but a Porto defender was there to make an incredible goalline clearance. Then, inn injury time, Duván very nearly grabbed the equalizer, but rather than connect with Mertens' cross, he managed to fall on the ball instead. Fantastic.