Stunning win for Olhanense in Braga

Following their 1-0 away win at Académica (Coimbra), manager Sérgio Conceição faced the daunting prospect of facing SC Braga at their intimidating AXA Stadium known as the Quarry.

Olhanense were without the suspended Salvador Agra, Ismaily and Mateus. In addition, Conceição decided to leave Mauricio and Rui Duarte on the bench.

The first-half it was all Braga, chasing a UEFA Champions League place, who dominated and deservedly took the lead on nineteen minutes. Alan whipped in a free-kick from the left and Nuno André Coelho headed home. At this stage, the visitors were under the cosh but the arrival of skipper Rui Duarte, he replaced Vítor Vinha shortly before the interval, galvanised the Algarveans.  

Ten minutes into the second-half and the scores were level. Braga keeper Quim flapped at the ball which fell to Caué on the edge of the goal area and he made no mistake with his angled shot into the far corner.

Last season’s UEFA Europa League runners-up were finding it difficult to contain a resurgent Olhanense side who counter-attacked with speed and precision. The Arsenalistas replaced Ruben Amorim with former Portugal international Nuno Gomes but to no avail as minutes later Olhanense took the lead. Wilson Eduardo broke clear and laid the ball perfectly into the path of Dady. The Cape Verde international took a touch and then calmly chipped the ball over the advancing Quim.

Minutes later and Braga had the ball in the net but Douglão’s header was ruled out for offside with the player being dismissed for verbally abusing the linesman. Braga threw everyone forward for the last ten minutes but Fabiano Freitas made two amazing saves and Fernando Alexandre made a miraculous goal-line clearance to record a famous victory.

Olhanense have not only recorded their highest total of points – 35 – in the top flight but have done it on the lowest budget, €1.4 million, in the Premier Liga. All this on the day that the club celebrated their 100th Anniversary.

A delighted Sérgio Conceição said: “I want to congratulate Olhanense, who celebrate 100 years today and who have managed the historic feat of reaching 35 points. Congratulations also to Braga. It was a great game, between two great teams and perhaps the fair result would have been a draw.” C.W.