2ECF3YJ Dragao Stadium, Porto, Portugal. 13th Feb, 2021. Portuguese Championship Football, FC Porto versus Boa Vista; Marko Grujic of FC Porto chases the through ball Credit: Action Plus Sports/Alamy Live News

Marko Grujic subbed after 23 minutes as frustrating Porto limbo continues

Marko Grujic started, but lasted only 23 minutes, as he was hooked with Porto two goals down in their Taca de Portugal semi-final, with his struggle on loan continuing.

The Serbian made only his 10th start since joining Porto on Wednesday night, but it was far from a joyous occasion as he turned scapegoat against Braga.

Having earned a 1-1 draw in the first leg on the road, Porto looked favourites to make it to the final of the Taca de Portugal at the expense of their rivals for second place in the Primeira Liga.

The tournament – the equivalent of the FA Cup – had been a source of regular starts for Grujic, who otherwise endures a backup role under Sergio Conceicao, and it was no different at the Estadio do Dragao.

However, a quickfire brace from Braga’s Abel Ruiz turned the fixture on its head, and left Conceicao scrabbling for a solution.

With his side completely at odds defensively, the Porto manager opted for a double change in the 23rd minute, with Grujic and Chancel Mbemba coming off as Zaidu Sanusi and Medhi Taremi were brought on.

Ex-Chelsea forward Lucas Piazon added a third for Braga with a brilliant free-kick soon after, and though goals from Otavio and Moussa Marega reduced the deficit, Porto ultimately limped to a 3-2 defeat, and 4-3 on aggregate.

LINCOLN, ENGLAND - Thursday, September 24, 2020: Liverpool's Marko Grujic during the pre-match warm-up before the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Lincoln City FC and Liverpool FC at Sincil Bank. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After the game, Grujic drew the ire from a number of Porto supporters on Twitter, with one naming him, Malang Sarr and Felipe Anderson as “three of the worst loans in history.”

Another determined that the 24-year-old “can go to play B for the rest of the season,” though this is quite clearly an emotional reaction to a disappointing result.

Grujic joined Porto with the hope of establishing himself as a first-team regular at a top-level side, fighting for the Primeira Liga title and with hopes of progress in the Champions League, but that has not transpired.

Instead, he has arguably been given less game time than he would were to have stayed at Liverpool, with the injury crisis at Anfield likely to have handed him a surprise regular berth either in midfield or centre-back.

The Reds are expected to part ways with their No. 16 at the end of the season, but given his plight in Portugal, it is hard to see that there will be much interest for the fee they would wish for.