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UEFA Champions League
September 19, 2012
• Estádio AXA, Braga
Referee: P. Rasmussen
• Attendance: 15000
Rafael Bastos 19', 34'
Right, that's all from me folks! Both Cluj and Braga return to Champions League action on Tuesday October 2. Cluj host Manchester United in a battle at the top of Group H whilst Galatasaray and Braga will both be hoping to get their European campaigns on track when they meet in Turkey.
Cluj's goalscoring hero Rafael Bastos joined the Romanian side from Braga in 2010. A fantastic return to the Estadio AXA for the Brazilian winger.
That 2-0 victory sends Cluj to the top of Group H on goal difference after Manchester United defeated Galatasaray by a solitary goal to nil.
FULL TIME. A fantastic win for Ioan Andone's side; a resilient defensive performance coupled with two cracking strikes from their Brazilian star Rafael Bastos has helped to settle this tie.
You will not see many better defensive performances this season and Mario Felgueiras has been a rock in the Cluj goal and once again keeps his clean sheet intact, palming away Custodio's header from close range.
Eder lays the ball off beautifully for Ruben Micael on the edge of the box but the midfielder's finessed effort is excellently saved by Felgueiras.
Cluj have defended imperiously today and the board goes up to display that there will be three minutes of stoppage time.
Paulo Cesar has failed to make an impact since coming on and his right-wing cross is wildly overhit.
Custodio looks to bend a shot into the bottom corner from 25 yards but his shot flashes narrowly wide.
Braga are looking to use the height of Eder to cause Cluj problems but a long ball is overhit and Cluj are allowed to regroup. The Railwaymen are minutes away from their first Champions League group stage victory in four years!
How many chances do Braga want? Mossoro whips in a peach of a cross from the left flank but Eder cannot keep his header down and his effort flies over the crossbar. Time running out for the hosts.
Yellow Card Hélder Barbosa
YELLOW CARD! Helder Barbosa vents his frustration and deservedly receives a yellow card after a nasty challenge of Aguirregaray.
Penalty appeal as Ze Luis goes down in the box but Peter Rasmussen is having none of it and waves play on.
SUBSTITUTION. Rafael Bastos cannot continue and he is replaced by Rui Pedro.
A pause in play as Rafael Bastos requires medical attention and it appears that his game is over. Will his two brilliantly-taken efforts settle this tie?
Great chance for Cluj to wrap up the points and Ioan Andone is fuming on the touchline. A cross from the left somehow finds its way to the backpost where Kapetanos is waiting to convert, but the Greek striker's shot is struck straight at the midriff of Beto.
Gabriel Muresan drills in a freekick for the away side but his powerful effort is well blocked by Vinicius.
Braga have amassed an astonishing 30 shots in this game so far and have had 73% possession but it is the Romanian champions who lead by two goals to nil with 18 minutes remaining on the clock.
Rocha Paulo Cesar
SUBSTITUTION. Final roll of the dice for the Portuguese side as Leandro Salino jogs off and is duly replaced by no.9 Paulo Cesar.
It just won't go in for Jose Peseiro's side today. Nuno Coelho's freekick stings the palms of Felgueiras and as the ball is clipped back into the box, Ze Luis nods a header just wide of the post.
All eleven players in the Cluj lineup are camped deep inside their own half as they continue to frustrate the home side.
Braga's last Champions League opener ended in a 6-0 away defeat to Arsenal in 2010/11. They have 24 minutes left to rescue the points this time around.
SUBSTITUTION: Ioan Andone responds with a change of his own, freshening up his midfield by replacing Luis Alberto with Godemeche.
SUBSTITUTION: Jose Peseiro sends on another substitute in an attempt to change his side's fortunes, sending on Ze Luís for former Newcastle United player Hugo Viana.
Mossoro makes a fantastic run from deep inside the Cluj half but his finishing skills do not match his dribbling as his curling effort is comfortably caught by Felgueiras.
Yellow Card Rafael Bastos
YELLOW CARD! Cluj's two-goal hero Rafael Bastos is the second man in the referee's notebook after a crunching challenge through the back of Ismaily.
Felgueiras is a man on a mission today and the Portuguese goalkeeper produces another fine stop to deny Ruben Micael.
Cluj are trying their best to muster some attacking chances of their own but they cannot find that final ball and a promising attack breaks down on the left-hand side of the Braga box.
Hugo Viana takes a strike from the edge of the box but the Cluj defence stays firm to block his drive once again. The pressure is building on the Cluj goal, can they weather the Braga storm?
Rafael Bastos has his shooting boots on today but as the ball is cleared to him on the edge of the box after Carmona's corner, he flashes a drive high over the crossbar.
Mossoro takes a shot from an acute angle but sees his effort stray wide of the left-hand post.
A close shave for Cluj. A wonderful cross is whipped in from the Braga left and Ruben Micael gets ahead of his marker to make contact but his deft flick is expertly parried away by the flailing arm of Felgueiras.
Braga begin the second half in positive fashion with the words of Peseiro fresh in their mind, but Custodio's long-range drive is cleared away for a corner.
The teams emerge from the tunnel for the second half and both sides have made a change. Helder Barbosa replaces Alan for the hosts whilst Cluj take off striker Modou Sougou for defender Aguirregaray, clearly looking to hold onto their valuable two-goal advantage.
In the other Champions League Group H match tonight, Manchester United lead Galatasaray at Old Trafford courtesy of Michael Carrick's seventh-minute strike.
Although Cluj are two nil ahead at the break, you get the feeling that Braga are still capable of getting something from this match. If the Portuguese side can score early in the second-half and get the crowd behind them, you wouldn't put it past them to nick all three points.
HALF TIME in Portugal and the boos ring out for Jose Peseiro's side. Despite dominating large chunks of this match, they have failed to convert their chances. Credit to their Romanian opponents however, who have successfully exploited a defensive flaw in the Arsenalistas' tactics.
45' + 4'
Yellow Card Mário Felgueiras
YELLOW CARD! The game has been played in a good spirit so far but referee Peter Rasmussen adjudges that Mario Felgueiras is culpable of time-wasting. He consequently brings out the game's first yellow card for the Cluj goalkeeper, who has been very busy during this action-packed first half.
Freekick for Braga and Hugo Viana clips the ball to the edge of the box once again to the onrushing Ismaily, whose dipping left-footed volley swerves narrowly over the bar.
Four minutes of stoppage time to be played at Estadio AXA.
Ioan Andone's side break at pace once again and it takes a wonderful interception to prevent Kapetanos from running through on goal.
A rare break in play as a Braga player receives treatment. This game has been played at a frantic pace and the Arsenalistas continue to search for a crucial route back into the game before the half-time whistle.
Another chance goes begging for Braga as Eder is played through one-on-one with Felgueiras but the striker is under pressure from the Cluj defence and his weak effort is comfortably foiled by the goalkeeper.
Ismaily is the next Braga player to try his luck from range but his effort from 30 yards is expertly blocked by Sepsi.
Hugo Viana tries his luck from distance but the Cluj defence stands firm to block his goalbound effort.
Jose Peseiro cuts a frustrated figure on the sideline. His side will be rueing their profligacy in front of goal.
Goal Rafael Bastos
GOLAZO! He's done it again and what a strike it is by Rafael Bastos. The Brazilian capitalises on a mistake by Nuno Coelho, breaking down the left flank and cutting inside past the challenge of two Braga defenders. He gets a fortunate ricochet of the final defender but there is nothing lucky about the finish as he strikes it with the outside of his right foot into the top corner past the hapless Beto.
What a chance for Cluj to extend their lead! The Braga defence once again goes AWOL and Kapetanos latches onto a through ball. He produces a wonderful piece of skill to evade the final Braga defender before somehow skewing his shot wide of the goal with just Beto to beat.
Hugo Viana whips in a dangerous freekick but the danger is expertly cleared by the Cluj rearguard.
Cluj launch a rare attack on the Braga goal but Camora's piledriver flies harmlessly over the crossbar.
Braga fill the penalty are when they are awarded a freekick on the right-side of the box but the ball is lofted back to the edge of the box where Hugo Viana meets it with a stinging volley which is parried to safety by the Cluj shotstopper.
Braga are continuing to knock on the door and Felgueiras needs to stay alert to palm away Ruben Micael's fizzing drive.
This is a fantastic end-to-end attacking encounter and Braga again cause problems down the right wing when Alan skips past his marker and crosses for Eder but the tall centre-forward cannot get enough on his shot to divert past Felgueiras.
Braga need to be careful here. Their three-man defence already went missing for the first Cluj goal and the Romanian side look to counter-attack again but Kapetanos just strays offside.
Braga have responded well to going behind and Mossoro comes close to levelling the scores but his right-footed effort flashes across the face of the goal and Cluj can breathe again.
Assist M. Sougou
Goal Rafael Bastos
GOOAALLL!! Cluj take the lead against the run of play following a devastating counter-attack. Braga commit too many players forward in a bid to score the opener and Modou Sougou has time and space to play in Rafael Bastos who has run in behind the Braga defence and the midfielder finishes emphatically, striking his shot low into the left-hand corner.
Braga continue to trouble Cluj down the wings and the Portuguese side go within inches of the lead but Eder cannot latch onto the cutback.
Cluj slowly starting to grow into this game and Kapetanos finds space 25 yards out but skews his wide of Beto's post.
Braga respond by attacking straight down the other end and it takes a brave block to prevent Custodio's goalbound effort from the edge of the box.
Cluj muster their first attempt at goal but Radu's header from Bastos' corner drifts just wide.
No real goalscoring opportunities in this one just yet but Braga continuing to dominate possession in the early stages.
The home team beginning to settle into their rhythm here. The Romanian side struggling to cope with Braga's pace on the wings.
Positive start from the home side with Salino looking to break forward from midfield whenever he can to provide support to Braga's three-pronged attack.
Positive start from both sides as they look to get the ball down and attack early on. The first goal in this contest could prove crucial.
We are underway in Portugal!
The sides take to the field inside the Estadio Axa with the Champions League anthem booming overhead. Can Jose Peseiro's side get off to a winning start on their home turf?
Cluj (4-4-2) Mario Felgueiras; Ivo Pinto, Sepsi, Cadu, Rada; Camora, Muresan, Bastos, Alberto; Kapetanos, Sougou.
Braga (3-4-3) Beto; Coelho, Ismaily, Vinicius; Mossoro, Micael, Salino, Custodio; Viana, Eder, Alan
Without further ado, the team news...
Braga have made a slow start to their domestic campaign, accumulating four points from their opening three matches whilst Ioan Andone's side sit in fifth position after eight matches.
Braga achieved their place in the group stages after a tightly-contested affair against Italian side Udinese where they were the victors courtesy of a penalty shootout whilst Cluj defeated Liberec and Basel on their way to the group stages.
Good evening and welcome to Goal.com's live coverage of the opening Champions League Group H match between Braga and Cluj. Both teams will be licking their lips at the prospect of reaching the group stages in a group which also features the likes of Manchester United and Galatasaray. My name is Max Bentley and I am also available on Twitter @MaxBentley1 if you wish to tell me your thoughts on the game.
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