SC Braga match-winner Matheus called it "a night to remember" but expects a tough second leg in Spain after the Portuguese club overcame Sevilla FC 1-0 in their play-off opener.
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Matheus called it "a night to remember" after scoring the goal that gave SC Braga a 1-0 first-leg victory against Sevilla FC, and credited coach Domingos Paciência for inspiring his side to a vastly improved second-half display.
The win puts Braga within touching distance of the UEFA Champions League group stage in their debut season in the competition. However, last term's Portuguese Liga runners-up were second best in the opening 45 minutes and narrowly avoided going behind just before the break when Luis Fabiano hit the post with a header.
A different outfit in the second half, Braga attacked with purpose and were rewarded with Matheus' 62nd-minute goal. "It was the first time we heard the Champions League anthem and I scored the winner – what more can you ask?" the Brazilian striker told UEFA.com. "Paulo César's header was well saved by their goalkeeper and I was lucky enough to be in the right place to score our goal."
After a first half in which he admitted Braga "struggled", the 27-year-old was grateful for the respite of the interval. "In the first half we walked right into Sevilla's game plan and that's why we struggled a bit," he added. "Our coach had a long talk with us at half-time and we managed to improve after the break, eventually winning the game. However, there's still a second match to play and we'll have to work very hard if we are to qualify for the group stage."
Braga captain Vandinho was especially pleased not to concede an away goal. "We always play to win and I do think we managed a fine result tonight," the midfielder said. "Before the match, we knew one of the most important things was not to concede any goals and we did just that. The first half of the tie is done but nothing is decided yet. We can expect a very difficult match in Spain and I just hope we will be able to avoid the same problems we had tonight during the first 45 minutes. Sevilla have top quality players but we know what we have to do to succeed."
Sevilla had arrived in northern Portugal on the back of a 3-1 win against FC Barcelona in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup. In this tie, though, they will need to mount a comeback, a scenario striker Fabiano was not anticipating before last night. "This result is not what we expected or wanted," the Brazil striker said. "We lost but I don't think we played that poorly. In the first half we were by far the better team but didn't score. There's still a second leg to be played and I'm certain it will be a completely different story."