Futebol Clube do Porto, usually referred to simply as Porto, are one of five clubs to have won the European Cup/Champions League twice. They are also one of only two clubs (along with Nottingham Forest) to have a 100% win rate in finals after playing in at least two finals. In contrast, Benfica (who are the other Portuguese side to have been crowned European champions twice) have lost five finals over the years.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at Porto’s two triumphs, one when the tournament was still called the European Cup and one since it had been rebranded as the Champions League, a change which occurred in 1992. We’ll also look through the history books to find Porto’s worst results when competing in Europe’s top club competition.
When Did Porto Last Win the Champions League?
Porto’s last triumph in the Champions League happened in 2004 when a young, energetic manager by the name of José Mourinho was at the helm and amazingly took the unfancied Portuguese club to the summit of European football. The match against Monaco, themselves surprise finalists, was played at the Arena AufSchalke in Gelsenkirchen, Germany and Porto’s opponents were managed by French World Cup winner (as a player, then, but now as both player and manager), Didier Deschamps. Porto won the match 3-0 thanks to goals from Carlos Alberto, Deco and Dmitri Alenichev. Monaco didn’t muster a single shot on target over the course of the match.
Champions League Finals
As mentioned, Porto have only ever played in two European Cup/Champions League finals and they won them both.
Stage of Elimination
Porto have competed in the European Cup or Champions League 36 times over the decades and as shown below they tend to stumble at the quarter final stage or earlier. They’ve only made it to the semis or beyond 9% of the time whilst they’ve been ejected from the tournament in the Group Stage, Second Round or earlier more than half the time.
In the modern era, the Portuguese league usually sits sixth or seventh in the UEFA co-efficient, often vying with Netherlands to gatecrash Europe’s big five leagues. As such, Porto’s performances are broadly in line with what we would expect, especially as they are so often a selling club, having transferred out the likes of Eder Militao, Felipe, Fabio Silva, Luis Diaz, Vitinha and Fabio Vieira since 2019/20 alone. Indeed, since the 2018/19 season they have made a net profit of almost £170m on transfers, so perhaps we should be amazed they have done as well as they have in the Champions League!
|Stage||Number of Times||Percentage|
|Round of 16||7||19%|
|Third Qualifying Round||2||6%|
Note that some rounds have not appeared in every CL season because the tournament format has changed over the decades. The total percentage adds up to 101% due to rounding.
Times Porto Won the Champions League
Being crowned champions of Europe twice is not to be sniffed at. It is the same number as Juventus and Chelsea and only one fewer than Inter Milan and Manchester United. And it is two more than Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham or Paris Saint-Germain, all of whom have lost the single final in which they’ve played. Let’s take a look at how Porto achieved their European Cup and Champions League victories.
2004: Something Special for Porto’s Fans
In the 2003/04 Champions League, Porto were drawn in quite a tough group alongside Real Madrid, Marseille and Partizan Belgrade. After drawing away at Partizan and losing 3-1 at home to Real, things weren’t looking great for José’s men. But then they edged a 3-2 victory at Marseille (Didier Drogba scoring for the French side, perhaps impressing his future boss in the process) and completed the double with a 1-0 triumph in Portugal. A 2-1 home win over Partizan, followed by a solid 1-1 draw in Madrid meant Porto progressed to the knockout stages.
For many football fans outside of Portugal, the first time José Mourinho burst onto the scene was when he led his side to victory over Manchester United in the Champions League en route to the 2004 final. Porto had beaten the Red Devils 2-1 in the first leg and needed a draw at Old Trafford to make it through to the quarter finals. United went a goal up and it looked like that would be that until the last minute when Costinha turned in a parried free kick that sent José into raptures as he legged it down the Old Trafford touchline.
Next up came Lyon, and Porto despatched them by way of a 2-0 home victory and a 2-2 draw away from home. Then in the semis things were tighter as Mourinho’s men could only manage a 0-0 stalemate in the first leg at home against Deportivo La Coruna, but they edge the second leg 1-0 thanks to a goal from their Brazilian striker, Derlei.
And, so to the final where Porto faced a Monaco side who had beaten Chelsea 5-3 on aggregate in the semis and Real Madrid (on away goals after a 5-5 aggregate score) in the quarters. Many expected the free-scoring Monaco side to overpower the more reserved Porto. But, as mentioned earlier, the Ligue 1 side didn’t manage a single shot on target in the whole 90 minutes.
Mourinho had constructed a side that possessed excellent balance, with the skill and experience of Deco and Carlos Alberta alongside the defensive solidity of Ricardo Carvalho, Costinha and Jorge Costa. José certainly got his tactics right on the night and led his side to an emphatic 3-0 triumph. The Special One was born, and barely a week after his Champions League success, Mourinho had landed the Chelsea job, the English top flight’s first Portuguese manager.
1987: First European Cup for Porto
Porto became the second Portuguese side to be crowned European champions in 1987 (Benfica won the tournament twice in the 1960s). This was back before the European Cup had become the Champions League and it was still a straight knockout competition. Porto were managed by Artur Jorge at the time, who had spent most of his playing days at Porto’s great rivals Benfica (who he later managed, along with plenty of other sides).
Porto got off to a flying start in the tournament as they hammered Rabat Ajax of Malta 9-0 in the first leg at home. They only added a single goal to their tally in the second leg, but a 10-0 aggregate win is pretty impressive in anyone’s book. Looking back, Porto had a rather favourable draw in the European Cup that year as next up were Czech side Vitovice. Porto won 3-1 on aggregate despite losing the first leg 1-0 at home.
A closer encounter came in the quarters against Danish side Bronby, but Porto edged it 2-1 on aggregate to set up a semi final clash with a strong Dynamo Kyiv side. Porto won 2-1 both home and away and they were very much on a roll.
In the final, they faced a Bayern Munich team that had overcome rather more difficult challenges during their cup run. The Germans had faced PSV Eindhoven, Austria Wien, Anderlecht and the mighty Real Madrid, but had won each round by at least two clear goals on aggregate.
Bayern were coached by Udo Lattek, who was in his second stint at the club having managed a couple of other German sides and Barcelona in the interim. He had led Munich to their first European Cup back in 1974 and he was aiming to show the world that it had been no fluke.
Unfortunately for Lattek and his team, Porto were bang up for this one and despite Bayern going into the break a goal up, the Portuguese side hit back in the second period through Algerian striker Rabah Madjer and Brazilian sub Juary. Despite Porto missing out on their domestic title to Benfica, they at least closed the gap on their rivals when it came to European Cups.
Porto’s Worst Upsets
As might be suggested by the stats table above showing how often Porto have been booted out of the European Cup/Champions League in the early stages, the side have had their fair share of disappointments. As said though, given where they stand in the European pecking order, whether too many of their modern exits can be classed as either upsets or bad performances is open to debate.
One of Porto’s worst defeats came at the hands of AEK Athens in the first round proper back in the 1978/79 tournament. It looked like a relatively easy draw for the Portuguese side, and perhaps they had gone into the first leg with a little complacency. But they were swiftly brought back down to earth as they were smashed 6-1 by the Greeks, with the match, even the tie, basically over by half time as the home side were 4-0 up. Porto hit back in the second leg, which they won 4-1, but it was too little, too late and they crashed out in embarrassment.
They also suffered something of a cupset even further back in the 1959/60 season when they were ejected from the European Cup in the Preliminary Round at the hands of Inter… but not that Inter; rather it was Inter Bratislava from Slovakia. The minnows won 2-1 on home soil and everyone expected the Portuguese side to get back into it in the second leg. It didn’t pan out like that though as the Slovakians won 2-0 in Porto to progress to the first round where they gave Rangers a good run for their money (eventually losing 5-4 on aggregate).
More recently, in the Champions League era, Porto suffered the indignity of being knocked out in the third qualifying round in the 2019/20 campaign, not even making it to the Group Stage. They faced Krasnodar of Russia, a club that had only been founded in 2008. Porto won the first leg 1-0 away from home but had a complete collapse in the first half of the second leg at the Estádio do Dragão where they were 3-0 down after just 34 minutes. They battled back to 3-2, but ultimately, they fell short and the Russians went through on the away goals rule, much to the dismay of Porto boss Sérgio Conceição. Krasnodar lost 6-1 on aggregate to Olympiacos in the Play-off Round, perhaps showing just how poor Porto had been.