Friday 23 February 2018

The game at a glance

Magic moment

Short of choice, so the unoriginal vote is the technique of the match-winning header from Falcao. It brought the Colombian's Europa League tally for this season to 17 goals, two clear of the old record set by Jurgen Klinsmann back when the competition was known as the UEFA Cup.

Warm-up verdict

An elaborate ceremony featuring a lot of white-suited men running around the place, along with dancing from some mythically clad figures and drumming from characters wearing kilts. We're sure there was a concept. And it seemed like they did a good job, although the nicest touch was using local kids to take up position on the pitch to effectively create a graphic as the teams were called out.

Fans watch

It was the Porto show, really. Braga's support numbered only a couple of thousand, with the main body located in the East Upper -- the part of the ground where most of the empty seats could be found. Clearly, there was a large neutral turnout in the lower tiers, with the noise from the 10,000 or so Porto followers reverberating around the ground.

Other fans watch

Of course, when the lottery for tickets was opened up, there were many clubs still left in the competition with high hopes about their prospects. Therefore, it was no surprise to see some Manchester City and Liverpool fans -- from Manchester and Liverpool, of course -- around Dublin.

N Ireland fans watch

Eh? No, this makes sense. Chants of 'Northern Ireland' from the West Upper in the first half succeeded in confusing those in the vicinity. Turns out that when their qualifier with Serbia in March was staged behind closed doors due to bad behaviour from Serbian fans, UEFA gave Northern fans the options to travel to Belgrade or take a ticket for this encounter. Some travelled, others obviously took option B and ended up here. Will we see them next Tuesday?

Irish Independent

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