Kouka features in Braga’s defeat to Porto
Egypt international Ahmed Hassan Kouka played for 63 minutes as Braga fell to a 1-0 home defeat against FC Porto in gameweek 4 of the Primeira Liga on Sunday.
This marked Kouka’s first match after recovering from an injury that he picked up against FH Hafnarfjordur in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League playoff round.
The hosts had a poor start at the Municipal Stadium of Braga as they conceded the opening goal after only seven minutes. Porto forward Jesus Corona flicked the ball over the defender’s head, before hitting a volley past Braga keeper Matheus.
The goal left Braga with no option but to defend and remain patient as any attempts to attack will just open up spaces for Porto in order to capitalise and counter their play.
Porto were the dominant force in the game with their fluidity in their midfield, which can deliberately switch between a classic 4-4-2 into a more offensive 4-4-2 diamond formation with Algeria’s Yacine Brahimi playing in the number 10 role.
Brahimi’s through passes were everywhere around the pitch and Porto were unlucky not to score their second following a brilliant double save from Matheus who almost left the pitch through an injury.
Braga had only a couple of chances and neither of them was on target which left the former Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas with no real threats to deal with throughout the first half.
Nothing much has changed after the break except Braga’s attempts to defend from a higher position up the pitch, which allowed them to have an opportunity to break Porto’s backline build up play – their most dangerous weapon throughout the first half.
Kouka’s attempts to get the equaliser have all failed, which forced Braga manager Abel Ferreira to sub him off for Nikola Stojiljkovic around the one-hour mark with the hopes of trying a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Just 10 minutes from the final whistle, the hosts almost equalised after a smart overlap from Nuno Sequeira who was left with an encouraging distance to shoot but his effort went off target.
Braga will play their next game away from home against Boavista in the second round of Taça da Liga on September 3.
This marked Kouka’s last game before the international break as he’ll travel to Egypt to join the Pharaohs’ training camp ahead of their crucial double header with Uganda in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
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