Djaló set-piece nabs a point for Braga in hard-fought Sporting draw

Sp. Braga 1-1 Sporting

Sporting have dropped their first points of the new season after a 78th-minute Álvaro Djaló free-kick earned Sporting de Braga a point in a 1-1 draw at the Estádio Municipal, this Sunday night.

The Lions were chasing a fourth consecutive victory that would have put them top of the Primeira Liga table, two points clear of Boavista and FC Porto.

Pedro Gonçalves placed Sporting en route with the opener in the 25th minute, but it was Djaló’s accurate free-kick in the second half that would run the rule over the result, securing a 1-1 draw.

For the first time this season, Rúben Amorim fielded the same XI in consecutive league games, with new boy Iván Fresneda making it onto the Sporting bench to mirror a fresh face in Braga’s dugout too, as they welcomed João Moutinho into the fold.

The visitors were able to make inroads down the flanks in a nervy start for Artur Jorge’s men, feeling the pressure put on them by Sporting’s fluid frontline.

Just as the hosts seemed to have tamed Sporting’s attack, an incisive run from Ousmane Diomande was capitalised by a shot inside the box by Pedro Gonçalves in the 25th minute, catching both Sikou Niakhate and Matheus by surprise and giving Amorim’s men a 1-0 lead. 

The Arsenalistas replied positively with danger of their own, caused by goal-hungry Bruma and Ricardo Horta on the wings, as Sporting attempted to weather the momentary storm from the home side.

A second goal for Sporting off the right foot of Morten Hjulmand silenced the Estádio Municipal in the 38th minute but the Danish midfielder’s special moment was soon overruled by VAR’s decision to disallow it, as his pile-driver fizzed past the offside Pedro Gonçalves, obstructing the goalkeeper’s view.

A cagier second half than expected offered little by the way of concrete goalscoring opportunities, suiting Sporting in their bid to make it four wins from four league games.

That was until Djaló, on to replace Bruma, stepped up to a right-sided free-kick in the 78th minute and surprised Adán with a well-struck curling effort into the top corner to make it 1-1.

The visitors were unable to bounce back from the set-piece as Djaló’s goal saw the two sides share the spoils in the final game of Matchday 4, leaving Boavista top of the table, ahead of Sporting and Porto on goal difference.

By Patrick Ribeiro

Sp. Braga XI: Matheus - Adrián Marín, Sikou Niakhate, José Fonte, Víctor Gómez - Vítor Carvalho, André Horta (Zalazar, 71’), Pizzi (Simone Banza, 53’) - Bruma (Álvaro Djaló, 71’), Ricardo Horta (Rony Lopes, 86’), Abel Ruíz (João Moutinho, 86’)

Sporting XI: Antonio Adán - Gonçalo Inácio, Sebastian Coates, Ousmane Diomande - Nuno Santos (Geny Catamo, 60’), Morten Hjulmand (Daniel Bragança, 60’) Hidemasa Morita, Ricardo Esgaio (Iván Fresneda, 84’) - Pedro Gonçalves (Francisco Trincão, 72’), Paulinho (Marcus Edwards, 45’), Viktor Gyökeres 



[0-1] Pedro Gonçalves, 25’ 

[1-1] Álvaro Djaló, 78’