Draw leaves Maribor and Braga deflated
Thursday, October 20, 2011
NK Maribor 1-1 SC Braga
First-half strikes from Agim Ibraimi and Elderson meant the spoils were shared in Slovenia, with a late goal elsewhere complicating the Group H picture.
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On a stormy night in north-east Slovenia, NK Maribor and SC Braga cancelled each other out to leave the home side in trouble at the foot of UEFA Europa League Group H.
Agim Ibraimi broke the deadlock to give Maribor the lead on 14 minutes, but they struggled to protect it and were pegged back by Elderson moments before the break. The result leaves the Slovenian champions three points adrift at the foot of the section, with Birmingham City FC's late winner against Club Brugge KV pushing Braga down into third.
In challenging conditions at the Stadion Ljudski vrt, the home seized the early initiative. Ibraimi made the most of the slippery playing surface and fired low to Quim's left, two Braga defenders having slipped in the box and failed to deal with a low Dejan Mezga cross.
The goal sparked the visitors into life, and striker Lima might have had a first-half hat-trick on another night only to miss a series of chances – including two one-on-ones with Jasmin Handanovič, firing narrowly over on 25 minutes and then straight at the goalkeeper shortly after the half-hour.
The home side could have extended their lead on 35 minutes, but Marcos failed to control a defence-splitting cross from Zoran Lesjak and shot high and wide. The mounting Braga pressure was taking its toll at the other end, meanwhile, and the Portuguese outfit equalised just before the break, Elderson on target after Maribor failed to deal with a Hugo Viana free-kick.
Play was bogged down in midfield after the break, but Braga looked the more likely side to win it. A Hugo Viana attempt was brilliantly saved by Handanovič on 61 minutes, and the same player headed against the bar with five minutes remaining.