SC Braga recovered from a goal down to beat Udinese Calcio 5-4 on penalties and book their place in the UEFA Champions League group stage via the play-offs for the second time, following their debut in 2010/11.
Eliminated at this stage last season, Francesco Guidolin's side thought they had exorcised those ghosts courtesy of Pablo Armero's first-half header. But Rúben Micael's second-half leveller forced a shoot-out, and the same man rolled in the winning penalty after Maicosuel had been denied from the spot to earn Braga a dramatic win.
With a first-leg away goal under their belt, Udinese were content to let their opponents try to force the issue. The tactics almost cost the hosts on nine minutes, but keeper Željko Brkić denied Lima when one-on-one.
Unperturbed, a patient, counterattacking Udinese were rewarded by a well-crafted goal on 25 minutes. Diego Fabbrini chipped into the box, Dušan Basta controlled the ball on his chest and volleyed towards the far post, where a charging Pablo Armero met it emphatically with his head.
Udinese threatened twice more from quick breaks as Beto denied Maurizio Domizzi and then, with an outstretched boot, Armero's volley. At the other end Braga twice tested Brkić's reflexes after the restart via Hugo Viana and Alan. Armero passed up a chance to double Udinese's lead by kicking the turf instead of the ball when clean through in a frenetic spell.
Braga were soon level. Brkić wonderfully kept out Viana's whipped free-kick and José Peseiro's side swarmed forward. The tenacious Mossoró saw his near-post shot saved by Brkić, but he had the presence of mind to clip the rebound back into the danger zone, where substitute Micael nodded in a 72nd-minute aggregate equaliser.
Control and composure slowly vanished as the sides frantically traded attacks without reward. Nine minutes into extra time, Braga came within centimetres of the lead as a sliding Lima just failed to connect with Micael's pass across a gaping Udinese goal. The Zebrette almost stole an undeserved advantage as Beto spilled at the feet of Giovanni Pasquale, but recovered to save and atone for his error.
In a tense shoot-out, Maicosuel was the only player to fail, scooping a Panenka-style penalty into Beto's arms. Micael subsequently converted the winning effort to cement his hero status and Braga's place in Thursday's group stage draw. Udinese will play UEFA Europa League football for the second successive season.
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