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Advantage Shakhtar but late goal revives Braga

Braga 1-2 Shakhtar
An 89th-minute header from Wilson Eduardo gave the hosts a lifeline after a lesson in how to take your chances by Shakhtar.

First-leg highlights: Braga 1 Shakhtar 2
  • Wilson Eduardo halves deficit after strikes from Yaroslav Rakitskiy and Facundo Ferreyra
  • Rakitskiy's third goal in 61 games in UEFA club competition
  • Braga's 13-match unbeaten run at home – with ten wins – halted
  • Ukrainian side lifted this trophy in 2009; Braga were losing finalists in 2011
  • Second leg is next Thursday, with semi-final draw the following day

Braga were made to rue a series of missed chances as Shakhtar Donetsk gave their hosts a finishing lesson in northern Portugal.

The Ukrainian team spent much of this quarter-final first leg on the back foot but Braga could not capitalise and a sucker-punch in each half leaves their UEFA Europa League ambitions on a knife-edge. There was hope at the last, though, as substitute Wilson Eduardo's header gave them a lifeline.

Shakhtar celebrate
Shakhtar celebrate©Getty Images

Shakhtar went into the match on the back of their biggest win of the season but they never really got going. Instead it was Braga, licking the wounds of their heaviest defeat in over five years, who made much of the running.

It was all graft and no craft, though – at least in the final third. Rafa Silva was Braga's principal threat yet the end product was always lacking. Yaroslav Rakitskiy showed them how it is done moments before half-time, meeting Taison's corner with a volley that went in via a deflection.

Facundo Ferreyra celebrates
Facundo Ferreyra celebrates©AFP/Getty Images

Braga must have been deflated and a golden opportunity for Maksym Malyshev was ominous, but they came out fighting in the second period. Rafa Silva's rising shot clipped the bar and an equaliser was looking ever more likely until Facundo Ferreyra completed a route-one Shakhtar goal with a tidy finish.

To Braga's credit they did not surrender, and Wilson's expert effort to divert in Baiano's cross a minute from time means Shakhtar still have work to do.

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Key player: Yaroslav Rakitskiy
Though several Shakhtar players were reportedly carrying knocks tonight, there appeared to be little wrong with defender Rakitskiy. Ever alert and committed at the back – he made a crucial interception to cut out a cross at 0-0 – his goal changed everything. Strikes from the centre-back are collectors' items (this was only his third in 61 European games at club level), but he took it with aplomb. A yellow card rules Rakitskiy out of the second leg, however, and he will be missed.

More than one way to topple a fortress
Regardless of last Friday's aberration against Benfica, Braga are always a force at home. They have beaten Marseille, Sporting CP, Fenerbahçe and Porto at the imposing Estádio Municipal de Braga this term and were 13 matches unbeaten there until tonight. Shakhtar did not so much storm the barricades as slip through the back door on the two occasions Braga briefly left it open. The hand of the wily Mircea Lucescu was plain to see.

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©AFP/Getty Images