Koka features as Braga clinch Europa League qualification
Ahmed Hassan ‘Koka’ was a second-half substitute in his side’s 3-2 win at home to Vitoria de Setubal, a result that guaranteed the club a spot in the Europa League play-off round.
It was matchday 32 in the Primeira Liga, and Koka’s Braga lined up against relegation threatened Vitoria in a bid to secure European football for the 2016/17 season.
With the Egyptian starting the game on the bench, it was his team that scored the first goal of the game; just six minutes in, Rafa Silva found the back of the net to put Braga in the driving seat.
Seconds later, however, Vitoria’s Vasco Costa stunned the home team with a quick equalizer to pull his side level.
The deadlock persisted until half-time, with the referee distributing three yellow cards in the first half.
Braga came into the second interval looking to secure a victory, and in the 52nd minute, the hosts were awarded a penalty for handball. Josue stepped up to restore Braga’s lead.
In the 58th minute, Ahmed Hassan Koka was brought on for fellow striker Crislan. Immediately afterwards, Rafa Silva scored his second of the night to give his side a two-goal cushion.
Costinha revived Setubal’s hopes of snatching a point with a strike in the 80th minute, as the encounter descended into chaos.
The final minutes saw an extra six yellow cards, and Braga’s Ferreira and Vukcevic received their marching orders after both players were shown their second yellows of the night. By the time the final whistle blew, no less than 13 yellow cards had been handed out by the referee.
With this win Braga consolidated fourth place in the league standings and have secured their spot in next year Europa League play-off round.
It is worth noting that Braga face off against Benfica on Monday, in the final of the 2015/16 Taca de Liga. Braga will be gunning for just their second-ever cup win, after their initial victory in the 2012/13 season.
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