They’re making a habit of it. After a sensational last-gasp comeback victory in the Champions League in midweek against Union Berlin, Braga again had to come from behind to win.
Rio Ave took the lead after just five minutes at the Quarry through an excellent move finished by Leonardo Ruiz. Despite chances galore, it seemed the Arsenalistas would find no way through as the match went into stoppage time.
But substitute Roger Fernandes had other ideas, providing two assists for strikers Simon Banza and Abel Ruiz to send the home fans wild with delight.
Rio Ave strike early
Without injured captain Ricardo Horta but buoyed by their exploits in Germany, Braga were surprised by a fine early goal from the visitors, Costinha released down the right flank and crossing low for Leonardo Ruiz to turn the ball past Matheus.
Braga poured forward in search of the equaliser, Adrián Marín, Al Musrati and Bruma peppering Jhonatan’s goal but to no effect and the interval arrived with Rio Ave, without a win in six matches, surprisingly still ahead.
The home side quickened the pace of their attacks in the second half but were given an almighty scare in the 51st minute when Rio Ave again cut through their defence with another splendid move to set up Ruiz, who incredibly shot wide from point-blank range with the goal gaping.
Teenager Roger livens up Braga
Braga intensified the pressure, especially when 17-year-old livewire Roger Fernandes entered the fray just after the hour mark, and Zalazar was unlucky to see his header bounce back off the bar.
Rio Ave and their supporters were celebrating in the 78th minute when, against the run of play, Fábio Ronaldo brilliantly turned his man and shot across Matheus into the net, but the goal was ruled out for an offside in the buildup.
The resolute Jhonatan in the Rio Ave goal denied Abel Ruiz, then saved brilliantly from Roger’s shot, jumping up and fist-pumping the air as if his team had just scored a goal.
When the referee’s assistant held up the electronic board signalling 8 minutes of stoppage time the Braga fans expressed their displeasure at what they considered inadequate compensation for perceived time-wasting by Rio Ave as a series of their players had required treatment during the course of the second half.
But just as hope was starting to run out, Braga at last found the net, Roger delivering a delicious cross that Banza headed in.
Roared on by the crowd, Braga threw everything at Rio Ave and the fans exploded into euphoria in the 95th minute when Roger again sent over an enticing cross that Ruiz neatly turned into the net.
Braga have had a week to remember, but coach Artur Jorge could use the international break to try and work out how to tighten up his leaky defence. Miracles cannot happen every game.
By Tom Kundert at the Estádio Municipal de Braga