SC Braga snared their first UEFA Champions League points in a tense victory over FK Partizan at the Estádio Municipal de Braga.
The recalled Lima got Domingos Paciência's men on their way with a first-half free-kick, and Matheus ended the contest in added time after Braga weathered a series of Partizan attacks. The Portuguese Liga runners-up go to Belgrade for the return fixture in two weeks with renewed hope following FC Shakhtar Donetsk's defeat at Arsenal FC.
A cagey opening was a tacit acknowledgement of the importance of the encounter to both sides. In-form Marko Šćepović had the first shot on target on 20 minutes, but his well-struck effort from distance was too close to Felipe. His prolific partner Cléo, a scorer against Arsenal, was the next to warm his fellow Brazilian's hands from similar range.
Given the tautness of the preceding 35 minutes there seemed little danger when the home side won a free-kick 25 metres from goal. Lima stepped up to curl a sumptuous effort over the wall and into the top corner of Vladimir Stojković's goal. Stojković, on his return to Portugal after a spell at Sporting Clube de Portugal, got a hand to the ball but could not keep it out.
Partizan almost replied instantly, but Aleksandar Lazevski dragged wide after cleverly finding space in the Braga area. The Arsenalistas started the second period strongly, and Paulão nearly extended the lead soon after the break. Stojković did well to stretch and clutch his header from Elderson's left-wing delivery.
Having conceded nine in their opening two ties Braga had the leakiest defence in the competition prior to kick-off. They were resolute on this occasion, with Paulão and Moisés forming a sturdy barrier in the centre. However, Stanojević's introduction of substitute Pierre Boya gave the home back four something to think about, with the Cameroonian's pace stretching play down the Partizan right.
It took an athletic dive and stout parry from Felipe to deny Nemanja Tomić's fizzing drive on 76 minutes. The goalkeeper again came to the rescue with time running out as he tipped Cléo's rising drive over the bar. It proved a crucial intervention as Paciência's men settled matters on the break, with Alan and Luis Aguiar combining to leave Matheus to tap in the second.
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