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Ten-man Braga hold firm against Dynamo

SC Braga 0-0 FC Dynamo Kyiv(agg: 1-1, Braga win on away goals)
Braga reached their first European semi-final despite playing for over an hour with ten men after Paulo César was sent off.

Ten-man Braga hold firm against Dynamo
Ten-man Braga hold firm against Dynamo ©UEFA.com

SC Braga reached the UEFA Europa League semi-finals at FC Dynamo Kyiv's expense despite playing over an hour with ten men on a hot, tense night in Portugal.

Dynamo failed to capitalise on the 29th-minute dismissal of Paulo César following the full-back's challenge on Andriy Yarmolenko. Oleh Gusev's own goal in Ukraine last week ultimately accounted for Yuri Semin's men, who ended with ten men themselves when Goran Popov received his marching orders late on. Braga will play Liga rivals SL Benfica in their first European semi-final on 28 April and 5 May.

The cagey opening was at odds with the first leg, which featured two goals in the first 13 minutes. After Albert Meyong had the first effort for the hosts, heading wide under pressure from Alan's cross, Braga began to press diligently.

Hugo Viana's swerving shot briefly caused Olexandr Shovkovskiy some concern before the Dynamo goalkeeper gathered at the second attempt. Yet the visitors almost took the lead against the run of play midway through the half when the unmarked Yarmolenko headed Danilo Silva's cross straight at Artur.

Braga's only home defeat in UEFA competition this season was against Dynamo's domestic rivals FC Shakhtar Donetsk, when the home side had enjoyed a similarly bright opening. The mood darkened, though, when makeshift right-back Paulo César departed.

With a man advantage Dynamo began to dominate possession, but the hosts defended doggedly and almost took the lead two minutes before the break. Shovkovskiy again found Viana's shooting too hot to handle from a free-kick, but he quickly recovered to smartly block Meyong's follow-up.

Braga began the second period with renewed vigour, and very nearly hit with a trademark counterattack. Lima raced onto Leandro Salino's incisive through ball before forcing Shovkovskiy to push his firm shot over. Artur had to be alert on the hour to turn the ball away after Artem Kravets instinctively steered Popov's excellent cross on target, but Braga swiftly responded, Lima firing wide after a delightful one-two with Viana.

Shovkovskiy tipped another Viana free-kick over the bar as Braga continued to show considerable reserves of strength. That was rewarded, and Dynamo's misery complete, when Popov was sent off after receiving a second booking in the 88th minute.

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