ANTWERP, Belgium (AP) — Substitute forward Evanilson scored a hat trick as Porto enjoyed a second-half revival to beat Antwerp 4-1 in the Champions League on Wednesday and further reduce the Belgian club's hopes of reaching the knockout stage.
Antwerp has now lost its three opening matches in Group H. Barcelona tops the standings with a perfect record of three wins and a three-point lead over Porto. Shakhtar Donetsk is in third place with three points.
“I never imagined that when I came on, I’d score three goals,” Evanilson said. "It’s incredible, not even in my best dreams. I don’t even know if I’ll sleep tonight.”
Antwerp produced a gritty first-half display that was rewarded with a goal from Alhassan Yusuf. But their catastrophic start to the second half was too much to handle as they once again surrendered a lead.
Before Evanilson — who came on in the 44th minute — and Stephen Eustaquio turned things round for Porto, the hosts had won most of the duels in a close contest at Bosuilstadion.
Porto's first clear-cut opportunity came in the 22nd after Yusuf gave the ball away and allowed the visitors to launch a swift counterattack. The slick passing move ended with a shot from Mehdi Taremi that was blocked in the box. Brazilian forward Galeno then missed the target after cutting inside following another counterattack as Porto grew into the game and became more dangerous.
But a poor clearance by the Porto defense in the 37th was enough for Anderlecht to take the lead as Yusuf unleashed a strike into the top right corner from Vincent Janssen's deflected cross.
The teams had been back in action after halftime for less than a minute when Antwerp's Arthur Vermeeren took unnecessary risks in his own half in trying to get past a pair of Porto players only to lose the ball. Taremi then rushed toward the Antwerp box and set up Evanilson, whose deflected shot ended in the back of the net.
Antwerp looked destabilized by the goal and Porto applied more pressure. The Portuguese dominance was rewarded by a goal from Eustaquio at the end of a well-built passing move in the 54th.
Antwerp captain Toby Alderweireld came close to an equalizer only for his header to hit the crossbar before Evanilson made it 3-1 with a fine volley from Pepe's assist, and he then chipped over goalkeeper Jean Butez to complete his treble.
Barcelona beat Shakhtar 2-1 in the other group game.
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The Associated Press