UEFA Europa League Final
Wednesday 18th May 2011
7.45pm Kick Off
Referee: Carlos Velasco Carbollo
Reporter: James Kemble
A header from Falcao was enough to separate the sides as Porto ran out 1-0 winners in the Europa League final against Braga.
It was the Portuguese champions who controlled the game from start to finish as the class and skill of Porto never looked in trouble.
However it was Braga who went close first as after just four minutes, Custodio’s fierce shot fell inches wide of Helton’s post in the Porto goal.
The early stages were cagey though with neither side really looking to break down their opponents as nerves were understandably high as the atmosphere created from both sets of fans, especially Porto was at times deafening.
Braga began to edge their way into the encounter and enjoyed some prolonged possession after 20 minutes but failed to make any of their possession count as Porto continued to look comfortable.
Former Newcastle United midfielder Hugo Viana was the first player to be cautioned on the night after his foul on Hulk warranted a booking in the opinion of referee Carlos Carbollo.
FC Porto’s Hulk had the beating of his full back from the off, constantly posing a threat against the helpless Silvio who also went into the book on the half hour mark for a sinical foul on the Brazilian forward once again.
Despite Porto’s vast dominance, both teams seemed to be cancelling eachother out, but as the game approached half time Porto struck first blood.
A terrific cross from Fredy Guarin was met by the head of Falcao who made no mistake from 12 yards out. His powerful header gave Artur no chance and the Portuguese Champions were in front after 44 minutes, sending the travelling Porto fans into raptures.
Braga manager, Domingos was tempted into making a double substitution at half time, bringing on Mossoro and Kaka in replace of Hugo Viana and Alberto Rodriquez.
It was substitute Mossoro who had the chance to get his side back into the tie almost straight from kick off as the midfielder broke through the Porto defence, only for his shot to be saved by Helton who stood tall.
The second half was not as entertaining as the first with very few chances for both sides. Braga were playing with more intent but lacked quality in the final third to really punish their native counterparts.
Porto were happy to soak up the pressure and hit Braga on the counter attack, as they looked dangerous going forward through the pacey Hulk and delightful Falcao who held the ball up well throughout the game.
Braga made their third and final change on 66 minutes, replacing Lima with Albert Meyong to give themselves more energy going forward.
But this never paid off as FC Porto held on comfortably in the end, despite a late rally from Braga who sent up keeper, Artur for a free kick in the final few seconds. The keeper got his head to the ball but Helton claimed with ease, what was to be the final play of the game.
FC Porto rounded off a memorable season tonight in Dublin, sealing the Europa League title with a 1-0 victory. For Braga it has been a tremendous achievement in reaching the final, overcoming the likes of Liverpool and Benfica to get this far.
FC Porto: Helton, Pereira, Guarin(Belluschi,73), Moutinho, Falcao, Hulk, Rolando, Varela(Rodriquez,79), Sapunaru, Fernando, Otamendi
Subs: Beto, Maicon, Belluschi, Walter, Rodriquez, Souza, Micael
SC Braga: Artur, Rodriquez(Kaka,46), Paulao, Cesar, Garcia, Lima(Meyong,66), Custodio, Silvio, Alan, Viana(Mossoro,46), Vandinho
Subs: Cristiano, Kaka, Mossoro, Barbosa, Meyong, Elderson, Salino
Goal Scorers: Falcao, 44
Attendance: 45, 391
James Kemble’s trip to the UEFA Europa League Final was funded by UEL’s Going Global Bursary
To find out more about Sports Journalism at UEL, please visit: UEL Sports Journalism.