Wherever the ball was, Ronaldo was not during the first half in Turin. Not so for Pepe.
In an opening 10 minutes which saw three headed chances, none of them fell for Ronaldo. His arms were outstretched in exasperation when Alvaro Morata’s header led Agustin Marchesin to making a superb point-blank save, and after Mehdi Taremi’s header hit the crossbar down the other end it was Aaron Ramsey’s turn to glance a header over.
Ronaldo has never shied away from hiding his frustration and Tuesday was no exception. Again, this time in the 27th minute, the arms were out. From a narrow angle Morata tested Marchesin instead of playing it across for his team-mate, who was not even free but could not help bemoaning the fact another chance had not fallen to his feet or head.
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The desperation grew, and after a blocked attempt from 20 yards out, he then had his head in his hands towards the end of the first half when there was a scramble in the box but again he was a few yards away from the action.
Pepe, meanwhile, made eight clearances in the first half, rolling back the years and producing the beginning of a defensive masterclass as Porto sought to defend their lead.
That task got tougher after the break. Just four minutes in a perfectly-timed run from Ronaldo was followed by one simple touch which Federico Chiesa latched onto to reduce the deficit to 3-2 on aggregate.
Just a few minutes later, Ronaldo was encouraging his team-mates, smelling blood, and he jumped at the opportunity to remind referee Bjorn Kuipers that Taremi was on a yellow when booting the ball away after the whistle went.
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Kuipers had shown no signs of reaching for his book, but eventually showed Taremi a second yellow in a seemingly tide-turning moment which Juve seized upon when Chiesa levelled the score on aggregate in the 63rd minute.
It may not have been his night so far, but the stage was set for Ronaldo. Next goal wins. We’ve seen it before from the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, but we were not used to seeing a wayward header late on when typically – particularly in this competition – he would have buried the chance that finally fell to him.
Pepe shakes hands with Cristiano Ronaldo
Image credit: Getty Images
Juve continued to pepper the box in the hope it would find Ronaldo’s head, but in the latter stages of normal time they came closest when Juan Cuadrado rattled the bar in injury time.
Come extra-time, the expectation that Ronaldo would have his say only increased, but few saw his contribution happening down the other end when he turned around in the wall and saw Sergio Oliveira’s free-kick slip through his legs and squeeze past Wojciech Szczesny despite the goalkeeper's best efforts.
All over? Not quite. Needing two goals to qualify, a still-reeling Ronaldo forced a save from Marchesin and from the resulting corner Adrien Rabiot headed in.
One more needed, and when Matthijs de Ligt went down in the box you got the sense Ronaldo would steal the headlines after all. However, De Ligt made a meal of it, VAR dismissed the appeals, and it turned out to be Porto’s night, Oliveira’s night, Chancel Mbemba’s night, but perhaps most of all, Pepe’s night.
In the end, after full-time, the Portuguese player flooding social media feeds was not Ronaldo but Pepe.
Among the staggering 18 clearances, the final one was an overhead kick in his own area in injury time of extra time. It typified Porto and Pepe’s bullish display, one that was not going to stop until the final whistle eventually blew.
"If I'm coaching at a football club now I'd get all these clips and give them to every young centre-half at the club," said Rio Ferdinand afterwards on BT Sport.
That overhead clearance was rightly singled out. It was a vital touch when his side needed it most. Had Ronaldo kept his eyes on Oliveira’s free-kick moments earlier, perhaps he could have got a vital touch of his own, but it was not to be.
The fallout from now will focus on what next for Ronaldo after three seasons at Juve without reaching the semis – two last 16 exits and one in the quarters. A player of his standards will deem that unacceptable, but while he potentially ponders his next move it is Pepe and Porto making tracks into the last eight. They may be the team clubs will fancy facing, but Tuesday was a warning they will not give you the tie lightly.
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