Best five games: Deco

With Deco due to headline the Tiger Street Football 2014 Grand Final in Singapore next weekend, Nigel Chin takes a look at some of the former playmaker's best performances.

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1: UEFA Champions League Final 2003-2004, Porto vs AS Monaco

This was the game that arguably brought Deco to world prominence.

Under Jose Mourinho, Deco and Porto made a surprise run in the Champions League, dumping English giants Manchester United out in the Round-of-16 as they made their way to the Final.    

Up against another dark horse in AS Monaco, Deco was at his imperious best as he scored a goal and bossed the midfield by starting all the attacks that got resulted in Porto’s three goals.

Deco was duly voted as the man of the match and subsequently, UEFA Club Footballer of The Year and UEFA Best Midfielder to all but confirm his ability as one of the best midfielders around Europe.

2: Spanish Super Cup 2006 2nd leg, Barcelona vs Espanyol

Deco had joined Barcelona at the summer of 2004, but it was in 2006 that he truly made his mark. After guiding Barcelona to a League and Champions League double, he was voted UEFA Best Midfielder once again, becoming the first player to win the award with two different clubs.

At the start of the 06/07 season, the Spanish champions were up against Catalan rivals Espanyol for the curtain-raiser two-legged Spanish Super Cup. Barcelona had taken a 1-0 lead into the 2nd leg before Xavi put them up 2-0 on aggregate. Then, it was the Deco show.

The Brazilian-born Portuguese international took the game by the scruff of the neck, scoring once in each half as he made sure his team brought home the trophy. Not only was he involved in most of the team's attacking forays, he was helping out with the defensive duties as well, breaking up play in his own half. Espanyol rarely got a sniff as a result, and Deco was voted the player of the game once more.

3. English Premier League 08/09, Chelsea vs Portsmouth

Deco left Barcelona for London after 4 years that was filled with silverware, to reunite with his former Portugal manager Luiz Felipe Scolari but there was no need for an acclimatization period as the playmaker made an instant impact for Chelsea.

He had a debut to remember, recording an assist, scoring a 30-yard screamer and ran the show from midfield as Chelsea defeated Portsmouth 4-0.  That prompted Scolari to describe Deco as a similar player to French great Zinedine Zidane.

Deco would eventually go on to have a somewhat mixed season, helping Chelsea to the FA Cup final only to miss out on a spot in the squad that defeated Everton.

4. UEFA Cup final 2002-2003, Porto vs Celtic

They were still not known around the world, but this was the match that laid the foundations for Porto to claim the Champions League trophy a year later.

The first Portugal club to lift the UEFA Cup trophy and their first European title in 16 years, Deco had a hand in two goals as he put on a masterclass performance against a resilient Celtic side. Such was his impact during the game that Celtic were forced into making tactical changes to deal with the attacking midfielder, but Deco still ran rings around the Celtic defenders, leading Porto to a 3-2 victory in extra-time.

He did lose out on the man-of-the match award to teammate Derlei who had notched a brace, but it was Deco who made football observers sit up and take notice that night.

5. English Premier League 09/10 Chelsea vs Aston Villa

It is hard to pick out an individual stand out for a game as lop-sided as this, but there is no doubt that Deco had a game for the ages.

Frank Lampard may have stolen the headlines for a four-goal performance, but it was Deco who dictated the play from a deeper position as Chelsea tore into Aston Villa repeatedly. The Portuguese international’s passes created openings against a panicky Villa defence time and again, allowing his teammates to do damage with ease.

Chelsea then would go on to defeat rivals Manchester United in the next match and did not relinquish the top spot in the league for the rest of the season, clinching the FA Cup and doing the double once again in Deco’s last season with Chelsea.

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