Braga put the disappointing Minho derby defeat behind them after a comfortable 2-0 win against Rio Ave at the Quarry.
Artur Jorge’s side were clearly the better team and deservedly took the lead in the 36th minute, Abel Ruiz releasing Iuri Medeiros who picked out an unmarked Bruma in front of goal.
The Warriors were keen to put the game to bed which was finally achieved in the 78th minute.
It was a great goal from Simon Banza, the substitute unleashing an unstoppable overhead kick to put Braga back in the winner’s circle.
The match was notable for 20-year-old Serdar Saatçi, the centre back making his first senior start for Braga after moving from Besiktas in the summer.
Braga on top
Matheus was called into action in the 4th minute when he tipped Emmanuel Boateng’s header over the bar. It was all Braga after that.
Iuri Medeiros’ free kick was palmed away by Jhonatan, Abel Ruiz pouncing on the rebound with his follow up deflected wide. The Spanish striker had another chance after some impressive build up play, unable to squeeze the ball through a packed 6-yard box.
Nune Sequeira was sending plenty of balls into the box, attacks down the left flank Braga’s attacking avenue of choice.
The Warriors has a great chance to open the scoring in the 25th minute. Ricardo Horta played a neat 1-2 with Medeiros to set up a 1 on 1 chance against Jhonahan, the Brazilian goalkeeper winning the duel.
The opportunities kept coming for the hosts, Bruma going past Patrick William before his shot was blocked and André Horta with an effort saved.
Bruma breaks through
Braga persisted and were rewarded with the opening goal in the 36th minute. A great pass from Ruiz released Medeiros, the winger squaring the ball to an unmarked Bruma who couldn’t miss.
Ricardo Horta couldn’t beat Jhonatan after the keeper passed him the ball, Braga keen to add to their advantage and demoralize the visitors.
Rio Ave were awarded a fortunate free kick on the stroke of half time that saw Al Musrati booked, Miguel Baeza stepping up and giving Matheus some catching practice.
The Vila do Conde club continued where they left off after the break, Emmanuel Boateng turning Costinha’s cross towards goal with Vítor Tormena intercepting his effort.
Tormena caused the next scare after his loose pass pounced on by Baeza, the midfielder bursting into the box where Tormena recovered to deflected the ball wide.
Artur Jorge introduced Pizzi for Bruma in the 65th minute as Luís Freire made two changes, Amine Oudrhiri and Leonardo Ruiz coming on for Andreas Samaris and André Pereira.
Braga’s inability to kill the contest was making the home crowd nervous, Jorge going to his bench again in the 72nd minute when Medeiros made way for Simon Banza.
Banza had an opportunity within 60 seconds of being introduced, bursting into the box where his shot from a tight angle was deflected wide. Musrati had a chance from the resulting corner, his header tipped awat from danger by Jhonatan.
Braga continued to get forward and finally settled the contest with a spectacular goal in the 78th minute. Pizzi’s cross was deflected into the air, Banza connecting sweetly with an overhead kick that gave Jhonatan no chance.
Rio Ave’s ineffectiveness in front of goal continued for the remainder of the contest, Braga enjoying a stress free cruise to the finish line.
Saatçi gets the start
Artur Jorge gave Serdar Saatçi his first senior start, the 20-year-old waiting patiently for an opportunity after sealing a €1.5m move from Besiktas last summer.
With Bruno Rodrigues loaned to Fatih Karagümrük and Bruno Viana finalising his exit to Coritiba, it was only a matter of time before Saatçi got his chance. That chance came next to Vítor Tormena due to Sikou Niakaté’s suspension and Paulo Oliveria’s absence.
The young centre back had a relatively stress free evening against Rio Ave's attack, extinguishing most of the danger that came his way, a solid introduction before more testing challenges.
I asked Jorge to discuss Saatçi's performance, to which he replied "He is a young player who has been with us for some time. He needed a period of adaptation and gave a very competent response.
"He was also fortunate to have the team in a good moment, which always helps in a real debut as a starter. It was a good game from him, which was what we already expected. It's another quality internal solution."
By Matthew Marshall at Estádio Municipal de Braga