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Glory boy Matheus fuels Braga dream

After resuscitating SC Braga's Group H challenge with two goals that included the best of his career, Matheus wants to add FC Shakhtar Donetsk's scalp to that of Arsenal FC.

Matheus celebrates one of his double salvo against Arsenal on Tuesday
Matheus celebrates one of his double salvo against Arsenal on Tuesday ©Getty Images

Matheus hailed the best goal of his career after his late strikes against Arsenal FC kept alive SC Braga's chances of an improbable qualification for the knockout rounds of the UEFA Champions League.

The Portuguese Liga club were seven minutes away from elimination before the 27-year-old forward scored two splendid goals – the first a cool finish to match Elton's raking pass, the second an individual effort after he raced from the halfway line, held off three challenges and drilled a shot in off the crossbar – to keep the debutants in contention with one match to play.

"We're all delighted with the win," he told UEFA.com. "I had the joy of scoring the two goals, but the whole team have to be congratulated."

Including qualifying, the Brazilian has netted five times in as many UEFA Champions League games at the Estádio Municipal this season – with none of his goals better than his stoppage-time second last night. "I think that was the best of my career and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to be living such a moment. It's a dream come true," he said.

"We knew it was going to be a very difficult match because Arsenal are one of the best teams in Europe, but we worked hard for the whole game and we finished as winners because of our strength."

It would still take a significant shift in fortunes on Matchday 6 for Braga to go through. FC Shakhtar Donetsk's comfortable victory over FK Partizan in Belgrade left Domingos Paciência's men requiring a better result than Arsenal achieve on 8 December – when the Gunners entertain point-less Partizan and Braga visit Ukraine. Should Arsenal prevail, Braga would need a four-goal triumph to oust Shakhtar.

Nonetheless, Matheus said the win over an Arsenal side who had given Braga a stern lesson – as well as a 6-0 thrashing – on Matchday 1 had renewed belief in the camp. "In football everything is possible," he continued. "We're going to try our best and see what happens, but one thing is certain – we're going to do everything we can and fight until the last second to achieve our objectives. I think we can win in Ukraine."

Meanwhile, Arsenal must beat Partizan in two weeks' time if they are to guarantee an 11th successive qualification for the knockout rounds, having only required a point at the Estádio Municipal to do so with a game to spare. Midfielder Denilson said: "Clearly we weren't expecting to have to win our last match to make sure we progressed but that's life and I'm sure we'll get there in the end. It's our duty to finish the job."