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VIDEO: Koka scores as Rio Ave qualify for League Cup final
Ahmed Hassan “Koka” converted a penalty to help Rio Ave reach the final of the Taça da Liga after beating Sporting Braga 2-1 at home on Thursday.
In a very windy night and in a horrible pitch, Rio Ave was host to Sporting Braga, defending champions of the competition.
Rio Ave had the wind in their favour and started the match very lively. Just five minutes into the match, Koka put the ball inside the net, but was ruled offside. Ukra was the main engine for the home side, putting in crosses, but failing to meet the target.
At the 25 minute, Braga had a penalty claim denied, after Marcelo controlled the ball with his hand and keeping it from going into the goal. The referee signaled for a corner kick.
Braga then gained some momentum, but it was short-lived, as they suffered a penalty. Braga (the Rio Ave player) fell as Aderlan Santos was chasing him. The referee pointed to the spot and sent off Santos. However, replays show that there was no contact between the two players.
Despite this, Koka, who had been booked a few minute earlier, stepped up to the mark and easily beat goalkeeper Eduardo, giving Rio Ave the lead and scoring his first goal in eight games at the 40th minute.
Moments before the end of the first half, Braga managed to equalize. Raul Rusescu’s free kick ricocheted off the post and goalkeeper Ederson and Custódio was there to pick up the scraps and tap the ball into the goal.
In the second half, Rio Ave made the best of their advantage and regularly threatened Braga, but the attempts were either off-target or easy to control by Eduardo. However, mimicking the first half, at the 66th minute, Marcelo once again touched the ball with his hand inside the box, but nothing was given.
At the 71st minute, Rio Ave managed to take the lead. Ukra starts a run down the right hand side of the pitch, squares it to Koka, who doesn’t reach, but Braga was there and with a powerful volley beats Eduardo, prompting celebrations from the sparse home support.
The game did not have much more story from that point on. Koka was replaced by Joeano already in injury time.
This is only the second time Rio Ave have ever managed to qualify to a cup final, the last in the 1982/1983 season.
The other semi-final is currently still to be determined as FC Porto are facing a disciplinary hearing due to allegations by Sporting Lisbon of a purported delay of their final group match. The final decision of that case will determine the team that will face Benfica in the next semi-final.
The final is scheduled for the 26th of April, in Coimbra.