Braga beat Porto to lift Portuguese Cup 50 years on

FC Porto 2-2 Braga (Braga win on penalties)

There was an exciting climax to the domestic season in Portugal as Braga beat FC Porto in a dramatic final to win the Portuguese Cup for the second time in their history, 50 years to the day after their first success.

Defensive mistakes have haunted Porto all season, and the Dragons rearguard was again all at sea, gifting two goals to Braga. But in a repeat of last season's final, Braga were not able to hold on to a two-goal lead, André Silva's brace, the second in stoppage time, cancelling out Rui Fonte and Josué's goals.

Braga fans must have feared cruel heartbreak for the second year running as Porto turned on the pressure in extra time, but they held out and this time won the lottery of the penalty shootout, Marafona producing two fine stops from Herrera and Maxi Pereira to trigger wild celebrations among the Braga coaching staff, players and fans.

Braga were first to threaten, Hassan failing to connect properly from close range as he met a Josué free kick in the 8th minute, but the Arsenalistas did not have to wait long to take the lead. A long ball was punted upfield and Porto centre-back Chidozie and goalkeeper Helton inexplicably stopped and left it for each other, with the grateful Rui Fonte nipping in to lift the ball over the Brazilian stopper and then head into the empty net.

As Porto tried to get back into the game Brahimi and André Silva were asking plenty of questions of the Braga defence, but truth be told goalkeeper Marafona was rarely troubled. The Dragons almost equalised shortly before the hour mark, however, when Herrera's terrific shot from distance whistled inches past the post.

Josué scores against parent club

One minute later and disaster struck for Porto as another howler allowed Braga to double their lead. Last defender Marcano carelessly lost the ball and the grateful Josué (on loan from Porto) had the simple task of advancing and steering the ball past Helton.

Porto struck straight back however, as André Silva turned in from point-black range after Marafona had parried Brahimi's shot. The Blue and Whites had half an hour to find an equaliser. Silva forced Marafona into a save and Brahimi threatened, but as the clock ticked into stoppage time it looked like Braga would hold on.

André Silva had other ideas, though, showing superb opportunism and athleticism to score a last-gasp equaliser with an excellent overhead kick.

Just like last season against Sporting, Braga had thrown away a 2-0 lead and conceded the equaliser in stoppage time, and the psychological advantage certainly looked to be with Porto as they bossed the game in extra time. Three times André Silva came close to completing his hat-trick, but Braga held on for penalties.

The Guerreiros do Minho held their nerve, scoring all four of the spot kicks they needed as Marafona's heroics won the Cup for Braga. A sweet day for the northern club was complete as the trophy was handed over by probably Braga's most famous fan, the Portuguese president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

by Tom Kundert

Video highlights of 2015/16 Portuguese Cup final