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SC Braga booked their passage from UEFA Cup Group E to the Round of 32 with a comeback win over SC Heerenveen in the Netherlands.
Done and dusted
Gerald Sibon's first-half strike from a free-kick had suggested the Dutch club could open their account in the group, but that was reckoning without goals either side of half-time from Braga's Renteria and Luis Aguiar – the latter, another free-kick. With VfL Wolfsburg defeating Portsmouth FC in the other match, the Portuguese team's victory left them secure in third place with six points from four games, out of reach of both Heerenveen and Portsmouth who meet on Matchday 5.
Elimination was far from the home side's thoughts early in the tie, however, when Roy Beerens failed to take full advantage of a headed chance, and then when goalkeeper Kenny Steppe defied a rasping drive from Renteria. Although Braga looked threatening, Trond Sollied's team grabbed the initiative after 19 minutes when Sibon punished the visitors for a foul on Danijel Pranjić by curling a free-kick beyond keeper Eduardo. Jorge Jesus's men were not down for long, though. After Matheus had volleyed against a post, and Steppe saved again from Moisés, Aguiar crossed perfectly from the right for Renteria to head the ball down past the Heerenveen No1.
If the competitive nature of the match resulted in Matheus and Heereveen's Mika Väyrynen having to be substituted, it also yielded a number of set-pieces, one of which enabled Braga to take the lead themselves after 56 minutes. Aguiar's 30-metre strike ultimately decided both the contest and the fate of both sides in the competition, but not before further opportunities for each team. Steppe touched a Renteria shot around the post, while late Heerenveen pressure produced an added-time opening for Christian Grindheim, but Eduardo kept that out with his feet.
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