Porto go through with heads held high

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 March, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 March, 2000, 12:00am

Fernando Santos loves playing mind games - and so do his Porto players.

'We won with our heads,' said coach Santos after the Portuguese champions clawed their way to a 1-0 victory away to Hertha Berlin in Group A.

'It wasn't a great game but we controlled it and kept fighting until that goal. It's important for Portuguese football to have a team in the last eight and it's great for Porto.' Needing at least a draw to make sure of qualifying for the knockout stages of the European Cup, Porto struggled to break down the Bundesliga club until a brilliant goal by substitute Ferreira Cruz Clayton in the 69th minute.

On the pitch for only a few seconds, he went on a surging run through the heart of the Hertha defence before beating goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly from close range.

'I though our goal was tremendous,' Santos said. 'It was a brilliant goal.' It was a different story for the struggling Germans. Playing in Europe's showcase club competition for the first time, they had already lost all hope of progressing into the knockout stages when they were beaten 3-1 at Barcelona last week.

'We wanted to go out on a high note, but we couldn't do that,' coach Jurgen Rober said. 'We were much too cautious. We should have put them under pressure, or at least tried to do it. But we've had two exhausting weeks and the players were tired.' The Berlin giants were impressive in the first part of their Champions' League campaign with wins against AC Milan and Chelsea.

But they failed to win a game in the second phase and finished last in Group A with just two points.

'What we showed in the first round was promising, but unfortunately we were unable to do the same in the second phase,' Rober said. 'Now we have to concentrate on the league to get a place in Europe next season. We want to be back.'