Beşiktaş JK have one foot in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 after making the most of Hélder Barbosa's 29th-minute red card to record an impressive win at in-form SC Braga.
The visitors quickly made their numerical advantage pay as Tomáš Sivok headed in the opener prior to half-time. Simão doubled the advantage before the hour and although the ten-man hosts refused to bow their heads as they sought a reply, the only Braga fan happy at the end of the evening was Beşiktaş coach Carlos Carvalhal – his charges look well placed going into next Thursday's second leg.
The game ultimately hinged on Hélder Barbosa's dismissal just before the half-hour mark, the striker receiving a second yellow card for simulation. Nine-match winning run or not, self-preservation now seemed the name of the game for the home side – they could ill afford the lax marking that led to the opener. Leandro Salino lost his bearings and, more importantly, his man as Sivok powered in Manuel Fernandes' corner.
Carvalhal may be able to see the Estádio Municipal de Braga from his Portuguese home, but he was really enjoying the view now. The outlook had been less clear in the initial stages as the hosts started with purpose before Ricardo Quaresma's jinking running helped wrest away the initiative. The departure of Hélder Barbosa, a minute after Hugo Viana had bent a free-kick just over, put the visitors firmly in the driving seat.
By the hour they were in cruise control as two of Beşiktaş's three Portuguese starters combined to double the lead, Simão latching on to Manuel Fernandes' delightful through ball and poking past the onrushing Quim. A consolation eluded Braga, despite Alan's probing in the closing stages, and last season's runners-up have it all to do in Istanbul.