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Braga prevail over Leinster & Munster

Braga 2-1 Leinster & Munster
Right-back José Fortunato struck the killer blow as the losing 2001 finalists got their hands on the biggest prize in amateur football.

Losing finalists in 2001, Braga finally got their hands on the UEFA Regions' Cup trophy, with right-back José Fortunato winning a tight final against Leinster & Munster with a fine chip from the flank six minutes from time at the Estádio Cidade de Barcelos.

The No2 had been picked out in space as Dito's side poured forward, and wrong-footed Leinster & Munster goalkeeper Brendan O'Connell with a supremely composed finish. Braga had taken the lead through a no less impressive Pedro Nobre strike on 62 minutes, but their dogged opponents struck back soon after, David O'Sullivan pouncing on a loose ball after Ray Whelehan's free-kick was parried.

Crossbars rattled at both ends before the break. Leinster & Munster gave early warning of their threat on three minutes, with Laurence Dunne's strike unwittingly finding the frame of the goal via a deflection off defender Daniel Simões. Powerful and assured throughout this tournament, the Irish side made the early running, but nimble and enterprising Braga slowly gained a foothold.

O'Connell made the first save of the game, blocking with a foot after Diogo Leite threaded a ball through to João Silva in the box, while Luís Ribeiro forced the goalkeeper to make a diving stop with a menacing strike from outside the box. Yet it was Pedro Nobre who got the crowd on their feet. The fleet-footed winger weaved his way into the box on the left in first-half added time and was repelled once before returning with an even more dazzling display of skill, ghosting around two defenders and driving against the underside of the crossbar.

The interval came at a good time for Gerry Smith's side, whose attacking verve seemed to be returning before Braga struck just after the hour. As Irish players crowded to stop Pedro Nobre spinning into the box once more, the winger cut back on the edge of the area and squeezed a low shot past O'Connell's outstretched right hand.

Leinster & Munster responded six minutes later. Whelehan's fierce free-kick surprised Rui Vieira, who could only fend the ball out to O'Sullivan, who finished unerringly. Game on once more, José Ferreira fluffed his lines when Pedro Nobre planted the ball at his feet on the break, but the killer blow was struck on 84 minutes, when the ball was fed out wide to José Fortunato. The right-back sent in a glorious chip from the flank which dipped under the crossbar and in.