A goal by Abel Ruiz today gave SC Braga a ‘skinny’ triumph over Rangers, 1-0, in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals, in a game in which they showed superiority.
The only goal of the match came in the 40th minute, through a beautiful shot by the Spanish international forward, who scored his third goal in the Europa League this season.
The two teams faced each other two years ago, at the end of February 2020, just before the covid-19 pandemic ‘closed’ Portugal and the world, in the ’16th anniversary’ of the same competition, with Rangers moving on with two triumphs (3-2 in Glasgow and 1-0 in Braga).
This time, in the ‘quarters’, the Minho came out ahead and will dispute access to the semi-finals within a week, in Scotland, with a goal ahead.
Regarding the team that started the game with Benfica (3-2 victory, on Friday), Carlos Carvalhal changed only one piece in the ‘eleven’, exchanging Paulo Oliveira for Fabiano.
Rangers coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst made three changes to the lineup for Sunday’s Glasgow derby, which the Blues lost at home (2-1) to Celtic, promoting Kamara’s start in the middle -field and Sakala and Artfield in attack.
It was a game with two distinct parts, the first very intense and played at a very high pace by both teams, with Rangers starting stronger and pushing SC Braga into their midfield.
After just five minutes, the Scots took a lot of danger to the Minho area, but Matheus and Fabiano managed to put a stop to it.
Despite the greater pressure from Rangers, SC Braga had the first big opportunity of the game, but Ricardo Horta, after a lost ball in the area, wanted so much to get the ball out of the goalkeeper’s reach, he shot the post (25).
The following minute, the Minho team scored, through André Horta, but the goal would be invalidated because the VAR alerted the referee to a foul by Fabiano on Ryan Jack immediately before the Portuguese midfielder’s shot.
Rangers went down physically – Braga had two more days of rest – and the Minho team took control of the match, putting themselves in front of Abel Ruiz: a shot placed after a good move from the right of the ‘arsenalista’ attack (40) .
Abel Ruiz 😍pic.twitter.com/Hc4QQUHkiA
— GoncaloDias17 🇺🇦 (@goncalo_diass17) April 7, 2022
The second half was warmer and, without seeing the team creating problems for Braga’s last stronghold, the Rangers coach made a triple substitution in the 62nd minute, releasing Barisic, Roofe and Aribo, but it was through a header by central Goldson , after corner, that Rangers created some danger for the first time, too little for the reaction that was expected.
Carlos Carvalhal responded with the simultaneous entry of Falé and Vítor Oliveira (75) (Abel Ruiz and Iuri Medeiros left, exhausted) and André Horta ‘fired’ from outside the area for a difficult defense by Allan McGregor (78).
Shortly after, Carvalhal refreshed the midfield with Castro and Lucas Mineiro, who replaced André Horta and Al Musrati (left touched), in the 84th minute, and also launched Paulo Oliveira to help sustain the predictable, more direct football of Rangers (89) .
The result was maintained and SC Braga takes a ‘lean’ advantage to the second leg, but that can be decisive to reach the semi-finals of a European competition, and of the Europa League, for the second time in its history.
Game at Braga Municipal Stadium.
SC Braga – Rangers, 1-0.
At half-time: 1-0.
1-0, Abel Ruiz, 40 minutes.
– SC Braga: Matheus, Fabiano, Tormena, David Carmo, Yan Couto (Paulo Oliveira, 89), André Horta (Lucas Mineiro, 82), Al Musrati (Castro, 83), Rodrigo Gomes, Iuri Medeiros (Falé, 75), Ricardo Horta and Abel Ruiz (Vitinha, 75).
(Alternates: Tiago Sá, Hornicek, Bruno Rodrigues, Diogo Leite, Paulo Oliveira, Buta, Moura, Lucas Mineiro, Castro, Bernardo Couto, Falé and Vitinha).
Coach: Carlos Carvalhal.
– Rangers: Allan McGregor, James Tavernier, Connor Goldson, Leon Balogun (Borna Barisic, 62), Calvin Bassey, Glen Kamara, John Lundstram, Ryan Jack (Joe Aribo, 63), Fashion Sakala (Kemar Roofe, 62), Ryan Kent and Scott Arfield.
(Alternates: Robby McCrorie, Jon McLaughlin, Borna Barisic, James Sands, Joe Aribo, Steven Davis, Aaron Ramsey, Amad Diallo, Scott Wright and Kemar Roofe).
Coach: Giovanni van Bronckhorst.
Referee: Davide Massa (Italy).
Disciplinary action: Yellow card for David Carmo (22) and Ryan Jack (36).
Attendance: 20,331 spectators.