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Monday, 26 March 2012 21:24

Braga seize title race initiative

Thirteen wins in a row for Jardim’s men

The 2011/12 title race took another thrilling twist at the Quarry tonight, as Braga sealed a thirteenth consecutive Liga ZON Sagres victory to go top of the table, with six rounds remaining. First half goals from Mossoro and Lima put the Arsenalistas in cruise control against Academica, but a fierce strike from David Simao set up a nervous finale for the home side. Earlier on, Maritimo moved into 4th spot with a battling 3-2 win at home to Gil Vicente.

Braga 2-1 Academica

For this most crucial of encounters, Leonardo Jardim made just one change from last weekend’s 4-1 thumping of Feirense: Miguel Lopes coming in at right back for Leandro Salino, who sustained a season-ending injury in Santa Maria da Feira. Academica travelled looking for their first win since December 12th.

Two corners in the opening two minutes delivered an early indication of Braga’s intentions, and the home side maintained their dominance throughout the opening half, enjoying over 60% of the possession.

The opening stages were largely cagey, with both sides seeking a telling pass without ever really finding one. Hugo Viana provided the first real effort on goal, curling in a well-struck free kick, but the alert Peiser dealt with it adroitly.

Braga were in the ascendency, delivering a series of crosses that troubled the Academica defensive corps. Flavio produced a goal line clearance to deny Mossoro an opener with 25 minutes gone, and a breakthrough before half time seemed inevitable.

It came after 36 minutes. Miguel Lopes launched another foray down the right hand side, and this time, his cross was true, arcing perfectly onto Mossoro’s looping header, which left Peiser with no chance.

Buoyed, and sensing Academica’s resistance crumbling, the home side added a second moments before the interval. Mossoro turned provider this time, sending Lima through with an inch-perfect pass. The Liga’s top scorer latched onto the ball, eased himself away from Peiser’s desperate dive and slotted home.

The Quarry was crackling as the second half got underway, and the crowd were almost sent into dreamland when Hugo Viana sent a fizzing low ball across the box, which Mossoro just failed to connect with. Braga looked in total control as the half unfolded, but just as they seemed set to cruise into top spot, Academica pulled a goal back.

Just as Melgarejo turned the tide for Pacos against Porto on Sunday night, another Benfica loanee, David Simao, did so for Academica. The creative midfielder unleashed an unstoppable drive from 25 yards out, which flew past Quim’s despairing palms.

Leonardo Jardim threw Ukra into the fray, followed by Djamal to bolster the midfield, but a Nuno Andre Coelho header aside, the finale was all Academica. The Briosa had offered little prior to the goal, but once they had the scent of a point they threw themselves forward in search of an equaliser.

But Braga, or more specifically Quim, stood firm. The veteran goalkeeper pulled off a stupendous save to deny Edinho, Diogo Melo shook the crossbar with a near post flick-on, before Quim stepped up once again to turn a goal-bound effort from Reiner behind.

It was a chaotic, frantic finale, and lesser teams than Braga might have relented under Academica’s ceaseless pressure. But Jardim’s Arsenalistas are made of stern stuff, and after five interminable minutes of injury time, the final whistle sounded – and Braga moved ahead of Porto and Benfica at the top of the table.

[1-0] Mossoro 36’
[2-0] Lima 45’
[2-1] David Simao 62’

Braga: Quim; Miguel Lopes (Vinicius 89’), Douglao, Nuno Andre Coelho, Elderson; Custodio, Hugo Viana; Paulo Cesar (Ukra 62’), Mossoro (Djamal 71’), Helder Barbosa; Lima.

Academica: Peiser; Cedric, Habib (David Simao 55’), Reiner Ferreira, Nivaldo; Flavio, Diogo Melo, Adrien (Rui Miguel 80’); Marinho, Edinho, Diogo Valente (Saulo 61’).

Maritimo 3-2 Gil Vicente

In the day’s early kick-off, Maritimo overcame Gil Vicente in a topsy-turvy encounter at the Barreiros. An early strike from Heldon looked to have put Pedro Martins’ men on the right track, but two goals in as many minutes just before the interval (from Ze Luis and Luis Carlos) put Gil ahead at the halfway mark.

But Maritimo have become one of the toughest away trips in the Liga this season, and their second half comeback only reinforces that notion. Fidelis levelled the scores after 62 minutes, and following an extended period of pressure Gil finally cracked: Christian Pouga sealing the points for the home side late on. The victory returns Maritimo to 4th spot, a single point ahead of Sporting.

Ben Shave

Comments (9)
Top dogs
9 Thursday, 29 March 2012 21:44
Its a great feat being on top but the difficult part is staying there. Braga have a tough schedule coming up and if they can finish well then they deserve it.
Fantastic job
8 Tuesday, 27 March 2012 17:27
I was definitely of the mind set that Braga not only had no shot at the league title but would finish mid table.
They have completely proven me wrong and deserve a ton of credit. If anything they just might have greater mental fortitude than Porto or Benfica and get it done.

Maybe we should of all calmed down on the Paciencias accolades. Jardim is giving a good account of himself.
I was wrong
7 Tuesday, 27 March 2012 16:58
If you asked me 2 months ago if Braga would be in front, I would have said no, but I was wrong. Looking at the rest of the schedule, Braga has a really good chance to win the title. I think if they can manage at least a tie against Benfica in their next match, they will have a clear run to the title this year.

Who would have thought? Well, I guess the Braga fans, but certainly not me. I thought that Braga had a chance at third in the beginning of the season, but certainly not the title.

That being said, give credit where it's due, Good job Braga! Their run over the past few years serves as an example of a team that does amazing things with relatively little financially speaking, and how a team which 10 years ago was middle of the table can fight their way to the top.
i new it
6 Tuesday, 27 March 2012 13:28
Like I said before it is Braga's championship to lose. The way the schedule worked I knew Braga would have a chance of leading this thing a few months back and they are. Now all they need to do is come out with positive results against Benfica and Porto. The porto one will be tough as they were done 3-0 and scored 2 late goals just to make it interesting. This time it will be at home. Braga always play Benfica well so not sure how this will play out.

Thinking ahead, I'd rather have Braga straight into CL and have Porto or Benfica do the qualifier. Before anyone starts smashing on Braga just remember they went 3-3 in CL and ran to the finals of Europa. This is a good team if they can keep Ukra and Lopes for another full season. Maybe Pizzi comes back as well.

Braga does one thing well that none of the top 3 do. They have a core of players that played together for a few years and this is important in the building process. Braga seems to fly under the radar so other big clubs don't come knocking for their players.

We'll see what happens as the weeks come however, I'll still be pulling for the little red engine that could.
5 Tuesday, 27 March 2012 11:13
Lol jardim brings Braga top of the table but yet there was this idiot saying jardim is an idiot at the beginning of the season and should go. I wonder if it still feels that way
4 Tuesday, 27 March 2012 07:32
Played pretty good from what I saw.
Bravo Braga
3 Tuesday, 27 March 2012 02:12
Braga reminds me of Barcelona team in season 2009-2010..no wonder if they could win the league this season..

FYI,,braga is the only strong team in portugal that have more portuguese player in their starting 11 than Benfica,sporting and Porto
From now on Braga fans will be proud of their team performance..and they got jardim's statue bigger than domingos..LOL
Forca Braga ruma ao titulo!
2 Monday, 26 March 2012 22:00
this should make things interesting
1 Monday, 26 March 2012 21:54
braga are definitely going to drop points in at least 2 of the last 6 matches.

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