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Fenerbahçe beat Braga in Europa League round of 16 first leg

Braga suffered a narrow 1-0 away loss to despite a strong performance.

Fenerbahçe beat Braga in the first leg of their round of 16 tie. The result ended Braga’s two month unbeaten run.

Fenerbahçe put pressure on Braga from kickoff but couldn’t carve out chances. The first opportunity came after 13 minutes and it fell to the visitors. Josue’s short went just over the bar as Braga got into ascendancy. They went close again in the 24th minute but Eduardo’s cross evaded Braga’s attackers.

The hosts got their first chance on the half hour mark. It was only a half chance though. A pass to Van Persie was quickly cleared away by, Braga, goalkeeper Matheus.

Braga was the better team though and continued to cause plenty of problems for Fenerbahçe. Koka had two opportunities presented to him intercepted as the game closed in on halftime. There was still time for both teams to try and get a goal but both Van Persie and Eduardo were denied by the, respective, goalkeepers.

Braga continued to play well upon restart. They pinned Fenerbahçe to their own half and this culminated to a good chance for Koka in the 51st minute.. The Egyptian striker failed to hit the target despite a great pass onto his path.

Moments after this, Fenerbahçe had a goal disallowed after Robin Van Persie was adjudged offside. The match then swung to Fener’s control but was repeatedly denied by excellent Braga defending. Braga was still able to create opportunities and came agonizingly close courtesy of Josue in the 76th minute.

This miss was punished by Mehmet Topal who broke the deadlock eight minutes from time. He took advantage of Carlos’ loss of possession to send a shot to the bottom left corner.

The visitors desperately looked for an equalizer in the final minutes remaining but Fenerbahçe saw the result through.

Fenerbahçe’s narrow win still leaves the game closely poised ahead of the second leg in Portugal.

I have dedicated part of my time in this bad world to following African football. From CECAFA to WAFU, COSAFA to UNAF & even the forgotten UNIFFAC.

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