S.C Braga advanced to the Quarter-Finals of the UEFA Europa League (UEL) for the first time since the 2015/2016 campaign, as they overcame AS Monaco with a resounding 3-1 win across the two last-16 legs.
The odds were stacked against the ‘Monégasques’ before kick-off as they faced the uphill challenge of overcoming a 2-0 deficit, having registered only one victory in their last seven competitive games. Braga started the game with a 4-4-2 formation, a system they’ve regularly used only in European outings this campaign. Despite dominating the majority of the possession, Monaco fell behind in the 20th minute following some calamitous defending, which allowed Abel Ruiz to blast a strike from the edge of the area, and provided ‘Os Arcebispos’ with a 3-0 cushion in the tie.
Braga had won all 11 UEFA knockout ties where they had tasted victory in the first leg at home heading into this fixture, and they were now in cruise control. Philippe Clement’s side did not give up, though, and had a glorious opportunity to reply when Wissam Ben Yedder found himself unmarked in the box, but his first-time shot from point-blank range was marvellously tipped away by Matheus.
After the break, the eight-time Ligue 1 champions came close to scoring once more, but Ben Yedder was wasteful in front of goal. Monaco may have felt aggrieved just moments later when Sofiane Diop was toppled inside the box following a vigorous challenge, but the referee was having none of it and waved the appeals away. It was immediately sensed that it wasn’t going to be the French outfit’s night, leading to a triple change in the 52nd minute to try and alter the course of the tie.
Braga were happy to sit back in their pattern and permitted the hosts to come at them, whilst they allowed the clock to tick down. Monaco were able to find a breakthrough in stoppage-time with Axel Disasi heading in from close-range, but it was all too late, as ‘Os Arcebispos’ advanced and secured back-to-back draws on the road in all competitions.