Falcao winner sends Porto through
Porto secured their place in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League after finally breaking down resilient APOEL. Falcao scored the winner six minutes from time to reward the visitors' dominance in Nicosia, after they had been frustrated time and again.
That left Jesualdo Ferreira's team on nine points, seven clear of Atletico Madrid and eight in front of APOEL with two games remaining, to ensure their progress along with group leaders Chelsea.
Raul Meireles's early effort was fielded by home keeper Dionissis Chiotis, and Bruno Alves curled a free-kick high over the bar after Joost Broerse fouled Falcao. From APOEL's first significant attack, forward Nenad Mirosavljevic twisted and sent in a fine left-footed curler from just outside the box, which forced Helton into a good left-handed save diving to his right.
Raul Meireles threatened again when his low drive took a deflection and Chiotis held the awkwardly bouncing ball. Chiotis was not made to pay for a rush of blood as he charged recklessly out to the left-back position, Hulk turning inside him but losing possession to Broerse.
The keeper was producing an unconventional display to say the least, and contrived to fumble Hulk's poor cross around the post for a corner. But he then saved bravely at the feet of the target man, who looked offside, and Porto's Fredy Guarin twice wasted decent half-chances.
A rare APOEL foray saw Konstantinos Charalambidis's free-kick pick out Mirosavljevic, whose header was deflected wide, and Helio Pinto headed over after a neat move down their left as half-time arrived goalless. Chiotis saved brilliantly after a defensive lapse left Falcao one-on-one, and then gathered the same player's header from the ensuing corner.
Raul Meireles dragged an effort wide and Hulk's free-kick was gathered at the second attempt by Chiotis as Porto's frustration continued, leading coach Ferreira to throw on forward Ernesto Farias. Mirosavljevic's low effort was straight at keeper Helton and the Serbian striker then failed to make sufficient contact with a header from Jean Paulista's cross.
A free-kick at the other end saw Hulk blaze narrowly over and Bruno Alves then nodded Raul Meireles' delivery wide. Farias came within a whisker of finally giving Porto the lead when Hulk's trickery down the left led to a cross which narrowly eluded the sliding Argentinian.
Guarin's cross was headed wide by Falcao, but the Colombia striker made the overdue breakthrough two minutes later. A neat piece of footwork set up a well-placed low shot from 18 yards, which curled away from Chiotis into the bottom left-hand corner.
And that proved enough, Charalambidis firing a free-kick over the bar in stoppage time as APOEL were left to fight for a UEFA Europa League spot.