Midfielders Mossoró and Custódio had particular cause to regret SC Braga's narrow loss to FC Porto yet not even the pain of defeat could numb their pride in a memorable campaign.
SC Braga heads, and in some cases bodies, dropped at the final whistle of tonight's UEFA Europa League final against FC Porto. Yet in the wake of the Minho club's 1-0 Dublin Arena defeat, Mossoró said his team should still walk tall – even with the nagging regret that they could have been bolder against their northern Portuguese rivals.
Mossoró formed part of Braga coach Domingos Paciência's two-man response to falling a goal behind on the stroke of half-time to Falcao's header. The 27-year-old attacking midfielder came on for Hugo Viana after 46 minutes while Kaká replaced injured captain Alberto Rodríguez. His introduction would have been hailed as a masterstroke had the Brazilian, "one on one" with Porto goalkeeper Helton, been able to take the Arsenalistas' best chance of the match. However, he could only shoot against Helton's foot, making Falcao's 44th-minute intervention the decisive one.
"They were the key moments, either side of half-time," Mossoró said. "We knew that we couldn't afford any mistakes, both in defence and in attack, and unfortunately we had a bad moment at each end of the pitch. We deserve praise for what we have achieved, but there is also a bitter taste because we could have won the trophy."
Nonetheless, for the former SC Internacional and CS Marítimo player, this was no anti-climax to a memorable European campaign in which Braga first debuted in the UEFA Champions League and then overcame KKS Lech Poznań, Liverpool FC, FC Dynamo Kyiv and SL Benfica to reach a first European final. "We have been great," he continued, "although maybe we could have gambled a bit more tonight. However, better players than me have missed chances or penalties in finals. It can happen to anyone and I tried my best to turn the match back in our favour.
"Yes, we have been beaten yet we are going home with our heads held high. We have had a super campaign. Everybody thought Porto were going to win by three or four, but that didn't happen and they hardly had any chances all night."
As an experience then, the final – even in a losing cause – provided a memorable conclusion to the continental adventure of a Braga side who had already achieved a best-ever Portuguese Liga finish of second place last season. "The atmosphere here in Dublin was something else," Mossoró said. "Coming over here and seeing so many Portuguese people has been fantastic. Everyone deserves credit, all the supporters – it has been good-natured, a carnival atmosphere. But only one team can win a final and that team was Porto. So congratulations to them too."
Midfielder Custódio, Braga's semi-final match-winner against SL Benfica, had particular reason to feel the pain of defeat, however: he, together with colleagues Viana and Miguel Garcia, had been part of the Sporting Clube de Portugal team downed by PFC CSKA Moskva in the 2005 UEFA Cup final. "Naturally we are upset because we lost," he told UEFA.com. "Our aim was to win the game and it was an even contest, although Porto edged it in the end. Despite the defeat though, we – fans and players – have been fantastic. We are a quality side as we have shown all season."