SC Braga (Away)
UEFA Cup - Round of 16

Thursday 8th March 2007


With Braga not being one of the more dominant teams in Portugal, you can only assess them by their position against the other top sides.  With Porto, Benfica and Sporting Lisbon grabbing the top three places in the table, for Braga to finish fourth, they are the best of the rest.

As far as how that compares to other leagues, we have seen Porto beaten by Arsenal and Chelsea, Benfica beaten by Celtic and Man U and Sporting Lisbon have been defeated by  English clubs in the recent past.  So, it may not be the toughest task, especially as they are on a  poor run in their own league away from home, while they are unbeaten since October in the league on their won turf.

BMJ has looked at them and sees them as well organised and having a flash of flair in midfield and up front through the Brazilian stars they have.  Manager Jorge Costa is well aware of the strengths of the English game, having spent a while with Charlton Athletic, so Diego, New, Wender and Ze Roberto will be the players they look to for inspiration.

Spurs will have a strong side out and with the need for away goals, Dimitar Berbatov will be pivotal in our search for goals.  Robbie Keane will be available again, as will Didier Zokora and his running from midfield will be useful with Jenas being out injured.  Should Spurs need an injection of something different, we saw on Sunday that Adel Taarabt is not short on confidence !!  At the back, Spurs will not be able to choose King or Rocha, leaving the options limited to Gardner and Dawson, but they will be well supported by Lee and Chimbonda.

It will take a good performance against a side who have three seasons of UEFA Cup football behind them.  However, without knowing a great deal about the Portuguese side, it is clear that our European form is good and although we are facing ever more experienced sides, the team will be boosted by their recent run of results and feel that the games in the UEFA Cup suit them, which is why I believe that Tottenham will come home with something to defend in the second leg ...

PREDICTION : -  SC Braga  1   Tottenham Hotspur   2



TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Mido (knee cyst); Ledley King (foot); Jermaine Jenas (groin); Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee); Danny Murphy (groin); Ricardo Rocha (ineligible)


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SC Braga   2   Tottenham Hotspur    3      (Half-time score : 0-0)

UEFA Cup - Round of 16
Venue : -  Estadio Municipal de Braga
Thursday 8th March 2007
Kick Off :  9.35 p.m.
Crowd :   12,904
Referee :  Yuri Baskakov (Russia)
Weather :  -  Warm, dry
Teams : - 
SC Braga :

Paulo Santos

Luis Filipe
Paulo Jorge
Carlos Fernandes

Joao Amaral
Joao Pinto (Maciel 80)
Bruno Gama (Cesinha 69)

Ze Carlos
Wender (Diego 69)

Unused subs
Dani Mallo
Ricardo Chaves 

Tottenham Hotspur :


YP Lee

Tainio (Huddlestone 74)


Unused subs
C. Lee

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
SC Braga

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
SC Braga

Paulo Jorge 76
Ze Carlos 81

Tottenham Hotspur

Keane 57
Malbranque 72
Keane 90

Cards : -  
SC Braga




Tottenham Hotspur 

Berbatov (throwing ball down) 50
Chimbonda (??) 77  


Match Report : -  
Another last minute goal for Spurs saved what looked like an easy victory over Sporting Braga in Portugal tonight, after a referee assisted comeback almost helped the Portuguese side come back to London for the second leg on level terms.

The way Tottenham started this UEFA Cup tie, it looked as though they were a little too confident.  Berbatov was so cool on the ball that it looked like he was taking the mickey, while the chances Spurs missed might have come back to haunt them in the end.  But it was at the end that Robbie Keane sealed a vital win and an even more vital third away goal.

With Braga showing a reluctance to go forward and the speed of the attacks, Spurs coped well with their forward forays in the first half.  Dawson threw a block in front of an early effort from Castanheira and Robinson had to be sharp to palm away a deflected Joao Pinto shot and Dawson was there to get in the way of the follow-up from Ze Carlos.  In between, Spurs opened the home defence with ease.  Dimitar's nonchalant sway took two defenders out of the game as the dummy was bought and left him with a chance, but he prodded the ball wide as the keeper closed him down.  Then Tainio got into a good position when put through by Berba, but his shot was placed a bit to precisely and not far enough out of Santos' reach.

Braga had their closest effort on 20 minutes, with Castenheira firing powerfully on goal, but the good approach work by Wender was wasted as it lacked any accuracy.  Berbatov was equally lacking the right finish when Malbranque, who had an effective evening, put him in on the right side of the box, but the ball slid wide of the far post as the Bulgarian striker moved into the six yard box. 

A cross from the Braga right came all the way through to Gama, who struck his shot first time, but Robbo was well behind it, as he was when Andrade took time off from late tackling Spurs players to get off a long range effort.  Santos was on his toes when Robbie hit Berbatov's cross at goal and the Braga keeper touched it over the top to preserve his clean sheet.  With Lee doing well down the left and finding space to go forward, he produced a low cross in the 38th minute, which Keano stepped over and Berbatov looked favourite to score as he hit a low shot from close range and Santos got behind it and kept it out with his forearm.

So, having dominated the bulk of the play, Spurs had nothing to show at half-time apart from a clean sheet, which could have been vital in the remainder of the game.  Keeping the same line-up, Tottenham got Lennon more involved in this half and he scared the daylights out of Braga with his pace and ability to turn sharply.  The first scare of the half was a warning to Tottenham, as Ze Carlos was fed in the area and he turned quickly to strike a powerful shot that hit the side-netting.

Berbatov picked up a needless yellow card for throwing the ball down after conceding a free-kick for a foul.  He was consistently pulled up for fouls, but when he was caught late, the referee waved play on, so his frustration boiled over.  However, the team linked up well to break through with eight minutes of the second half gone.  Lennon seemed to be faced by too many red-shirted defenders and he got a break as he burst between two of them, with the ball popping up on the other side of the combined challenge.  Aaron lifted it neatly for Robbie Keane to hit a volley, under pressure from a defender, which was wide and high of Santos, but rippled the net to give Tottenham a deserved lead.

Keane has taken his goals recently very well, but with some better finishing, he could have doubled the lead.  Malbranque found space wide to put in a neat cross and timing his run to perfection, Keane got onto it with his head, but he put it wide with Santos stranded in no-man's land.

Halfway through the second period, Jorge Costa made a double substitution, which changed the course of the match.  It went the wrong way for the home side first, as Lennon cut inside from the left wing to hit a low shot that Santos should have held, but he could only knock it out straight into the path of Malbranque who hit the ball high into the roof of the net to make it 2-0 to Spurs, which was nothing more than they deserved.

Martin Jol brought on Huddlestone for the tiring Tainio, as he tried to take the 2-0 win home, but it didn't work out that way.  The penalty decision that closed the gap on our lead was a soft one to say the very least.  Substitute Diego took a low ball across in front of Gardner, but as he took a touch, he dropped to the floor without any contact seeming to be made.  Coming after a similar incident in the first half when Aaron Lennon was bundled over, it was a real shocker by the match official.  It didn't end there, as the penalty kick was a poor one and Robinson got across to keep it out, but the ball bounced down off his arm and back in front of goal, where Paolo Jorge followed the ball in to bring Braga a goal closer to Tottenham.

I'm not sure what went on after the goal, but Pascal Chimbonda was shown a yellow card and Spurs started to rock as Braga pressed forward.  Another substitution was shortly followed by a dodgy free-kick for a non-foul by Lee and when it was swept in with pace to the near post, Ze Carlos got home in front of Huddlestone to glance a header with power down and in at Robinson's near post to draw Braga level and put them on course to preserve their six month unbeaten home record.

With nine minutes to go, you might have thought Tottenham would be pressurised before the end, but Tottenham moved the ball well and Keane took a headed clearance and might have done better with an early shot.  It didn't really matter after the final whistle, as the Irishman showed good finishing when he was put through two minutes into injury time.  Zokora, who had shown good, powerful running from midfield and some good passing, picked out a through ball to Keano, who looked suspiciously offside.  However, with the flag staying down, he took the ball on and as Santos came out, he struck his shot low through the keeper's legs and although he got something on the effort, the ball bounced up after going through him and into the net to give Spurs the upper hand for the second leg in a week's time.

Robbie isn't always the best finisher when one-on-one, but he kept cool and found the net for a vital third away goal at a time when there was no coming back for Braga.  The number of last minute goals shows that the team are fitter now, as they keep going and always look capable of scoring.

To tell the truth, this match was much easier than the score-line and the performance suggested.  With a more typical home performance next week, it will be very difficult to see Braga getting back into the tie, as their attack is not the strongest and with a decent ref, Spurs should be captains of their own destiny.

A good night's work ... and it was that as the match finished at about 11.30 p.m. and the was evident as the Tottenham songs rang out for the time it took to clear the modern, but weird open-ended stadium.






Reaction : -



Maybe it was the cost of tickets, but the home turnout for this match was poor.

Maybe it was the annoying fans that they gave them to slap together and make some noise that keeps supporters away.  They only took to song when they got back to 2-2.

The Spurs fans sang throughout and well into the night after Keano took the ball through and beat the keeper in added time.

It was then that we heard the silence of the fans !!

It was a win we deserved and the only frustrating thing was that we should have wrapped up the game before the break and netted a whole lot more than out three away goals.

Still, I am looking forward to the home leg, with the team hitting great scoring form at the moment, it is like the good old days of when Ossie was in charge !!

Not sure we will match the 6-0 home win when we played them last time, but it should be an exciting night out.




Other scores this round :
- - - - -day
- - - - -day
- - - - -day
- - - - -day
- - - - -day
- - - - -day
Glasgow Rangers (SCO) 1 Macabbi Haifa (ISR) 1 Thursday
Newcastle United 4 AZ Alkmaar (HOL) 2 Thursday



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