FC Porto seized the upper hand in their last-16 UEFA Champions League tie with Atletico Madrid scoring two vital away goals in a 2-2 first leg draw at the Vicente Calderon. Argentine Lisandro Lopez scored twice to take his tally in Europe this term to six as Porto twice came from behind to level the score in Madrid.
The 2004 champions are now in the box seat for the return leg in Portugal on 11 March and should have had a bigger advantage with Atletico's goalkeeper Leo Franco keeping them at bay with a string of important saves.
Atletico goalscorer Diego Forlan said it was vital that Atletico cut out their defensive lapses if they want to reach the quarter-finals. "We took advantage of the mistake (from Porto goalkeeper Helton) but couldn't get the victory," explained Forlan. "Now we have to go there (to Portugal) and not commit mistakes. We need to defend well and try to get a goal."
It was a tale of two goalkeepers with Franco having an inspired game while opposite number Helton almost gifted Atletico victory with a calamitous error. Captain Maxi Rodriguez put Atletico ahead after three minutes only for Lisandro to cancel out the strike after 21 minutes.
Forlan netted close to half-time to restore Atletico's lead although Brazilian goalkeeper Helton gave more than a helping hand with some woeful handling. The relieved Helton was bailed out by his team-mates with Lisandro scoring again in the 71st minute as Atletico's haphazard defending was on show again. "We were lacking a few things tonight in our game and I think we are going to improve a lot ahead of the second leg," promised Atletico coach Abel Resino.
With just over 90 seconds gone Porto almost scored an early away goal with Brazilian striker Hulk foiled by Franco. It was an important save and Atletico made the vistors pay for the missed chance scoring after just three minutes. Argentine Sergio 'Kun' Aguero put a through pass to compatriot Maxi, who nipped in at the back post to slot home.
It was a perfect start for Resino, who was experiencing his first European match in charge of Atletico after taking over from Javier Aguirre, who guided the club through the group stages. However, Atletico looked frail at the back and Porto got a deserved equaliser with a terrible defensive mistake from Pablo Ibanez allowing Lisandro to level.
Spurred on by the equaliser Porto put the hosts on the back foot and spurned two great chances to take the lead. The overworked Franco first denied Lisandro on 24 minutes and then Hulk, who was clean through, four minutes later. Resino was off the bench furious at his team's slack defending.
But a dreadful error from Helton gave Atletico the lead again with the Brazilian shot-stopper allowing Forlan's bouncing shot to squirm through his hands in first half stoppage time.Porto somehow went into the break 2-1 down when they should have been a few goals up.
It was more of the same in the second half with Franco saving a goalbound header and Lisandro missing a sitter from close range. Aguero, who had a son with Diego Maradona's daughter Giannina Maradona five days ago, was hauled off by Resino after 55 minutes to the surprise of the home crowd who responded with whistles.
Porto finally got the reward their football deserved when Lisandro capped a fine move with his second goal meaning Atletico must score in Portugal in the second leg if they are to progress.