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Koka’s Rio Ave qualify for Portuguese Cup final with win over Braga
Ahmed Hassan ‘Koka’s Rio Ave have qualified for the Portuguese Cup final, after defeating Sporting Braga 2-0 at home on Wednesday night.
Rio Ave had only managed to reach the Cup final once, back in the 1983-84, and were defeated by FC Porto by four goals to one.
Braga were trying to repeat their only Cup victory, back in 1965-66, and salvage a poor season. The first leg finished in a 0-0 stalemate, so this match was do-or-die for both squads.
The game started lively, with both teams creating opportunities, but Rio Ave were more threatening, most notably with Pedro Santos having two good chances. The pressure paid off and in the 27th minute, Ukra struck a free-kick at a very tight angle which beat goalkeeper Eduardo – who should’ve done much better – to put the Vila do Conde side in the lead.
After the goal, Braga tried to reply but Rio Ave remained the team with the best chances at goal, with both Koka and Pedro Santos taking bites at the cherry.
Just a few minutes into the second half, Koka tried to chip the ball over Eduardo, but the Portuguese international caught it safely.
Both teams kept pressing each other mutually and Rúben Micael had a very good chance to equalize, but his shot went wide of goal.
At the 70th minute, Rio Ave doubled their lead. A long punt from the defense went to substitute Rúben Ribeiro, who worked individually, took a shot from outside the box and scored the goal. Goalkeeper Eduardo was once again badly beaten.
Braga tried to reduce the disadvantage and regain hope, but apart from Aderlan Santos’ header a few minutes after the goal, there were no more dangerous situations near the Rio Ave goal.
Koka was replaced by André Vilas-Boas on the 87th minute, only to jump out of the bench shortly after as the referee blew the final whistle, guaranteeing Rio Ave’s qualification to the Portuguese Cup final.
This doubles Rio Ave’s chances to win a cup this season, as they are also secure in the League Cup final.
The Portuguese Cup final will be played on the 18th of May against Benfica, who turned around a loss in the first leg to defeat FC Porto 4-2 on aggregate.