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Club Brugge progress with Braga draw

Club Brugge KV 1-1 SC Braga
Despite having a one-man advantage for 74 minutes, the hosts endured late pressure before earning the point needed to join Braga in the last 32.

Club Brugge progress with Braga draw
Club Brugge progress with Braga draw ©UEFA.com

Club Brugge KV reached the UEFA Europa League round of 32 with a 1-1 draw against SC Braga, who had already qualified for the knockout phase.

Björn Vleminckx broke the deadlock at the start of the second half against a Braga side down to ten men since the 16th minute, but last season's UEFA Europa League finalists levelled with an opportunistic Ewerton strike. There were chances at both ends in the closing minutes of an increasingly open encounter, but a draw was enough to see Club Brugge through as Group H winners.

Braga's own designs on top spot received a big setback when defender Elderson was sent off for tripping Club Brugge's Vadis Odjidja, who had been given a clear run on goal by Ryan Donk's superlative 40-metre pass. Five minutes later the Belgian side almost made their numerical advantage count when Vleminckx headed over the bar from close range with only the goalkeeper to beat.

Braga responded by defending in depth, with Hélder Barbosa dropping to left-back to fill Elderson's vacated position. After 38 minutes Nuno Gomes had a chance to put Braga ahead but, with the Club Brugge defence caught napping, could not properly connect with a long free-kick.

With Birmingham City FC, their rivals for the second Group H qualifying spot, beating NK Maribor, Club Brugge started the second half brightly. They scored within five minutes of the restart as the ball broke to Vleminckx, who fired it low into the back of the net from the middle of the area.

A powerful Odjidja drive struck the Braga post and Leandro Salino tested Vladan Kujović from distance before Ewerton diverted a low Hugo Viana shot into the Club Brugge goal with a flick of his heel. Braga sensed their chance but the home side held on.

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