The teams lined up the referee checked his watch looked at both teams and blew his whistle to get the game underway. He had gone for Dion Cools at right back. He was pleased to see that Hassan was on the bench.
Braga rolled the ball to get the game underway. Pavon went on a instantly run and had his cross blasted away. Braga took the ball and launched another attack. The ball was hit wide to Djavan he drilled in a low cross and it hit off the leg of Denswil and the ball bounced invitingly 6 yards out. Pedro got to the ball and hit a first time shot, it was a powerful effort but right at Butelle who parried it before it was hooked clear. Alex hoped it wasn’t setting the tone for the game.
Within ten minutes each side had a man booked Dion Cools and Pedro Rocha. After 10 minutes Brugge got there first attack of the game. A goal kick was hit up to Meunier and he took the ball down. Some nice passing got the ball over the other side to Gedoz, his cross was cleared to Joao Paulo. The ball was passed around and worked to Zokora he played to Vossen who played a 1-2 to Vossen who had found some space at the edge of the box. He took a touch and fired a low shot that took a deflection on it’s way. Alex though it was going wide but, the ball smashed onto the post and rolled in front of the goal. It was a Braga player who got to it first though and they fired the ball into row Z. Again the woodwork not helping Brugge.
Alex gave the fourth official some abuse as a third Brugge player was booked for tackles Braga players had only been warned for. As he turned away from the fourth official Alex saw the ball hit out wide to Djavan who whipped in a cross. Denswil headed out but, right to Vukcevic who lofted a pass to an open Pavon in the box. Pavon ran to the goal line and Alex held his breath as Joao Paulo slid in to win the ball. Fortunately, his tackle was perfect and he knocked the ball away. Goiano won the race to the loose ball and crossed in. His cross was over hit, but Alan was able to hook the ball back into the six yard box. Gonzalez lined up his volley and smashed the ball goalwards and into the diving legs of Denswil who blocked the shot and a certain goal. Felipe Gedoz smashed the ball away as Brugge held on to their lead.
Alex was able to lead his side into half time still ahead. “We need to keep it up. Work hard defending, the longer we keep it level the more they will have to attack and then we can hit them on the counter. An away goal would do us wonders so try and grab one”
Alex’s side seemed to take the plan to heart as they came out and were willing to attack. Vanaken and Zokora passed it between them in the Braga half until Vossen dropped deeper and they passed to him. Vossen turned and played in Meunier with a beautiful pass. This was the chance Alex though. Meunier took his shot first time to help the angle but sliced his shot badly and the keeper was unconcerned by it.
After 70 minutes Braga were throwing noticeably more men forward. A Djavan cross was headed clear and the ball laid off to Luiz Carlos 25 yards out his shot and Butelle made a simple save. He hit the ball long and Vossen headed the ball down to Vanaken. He got the ball back and squared it to Felipe Gedoz. He took a touch and spotted the run of Vanaken and slipped him in. Vanaken took a touch to help the angle and then fired a low shot that beat the keeper at the near post and went in. The stadium became silent save for the small section of Brugge fans.
After 80 minutes Braga got a number of corners. Brugge cleared the last one and launched a counter attack. Vossen won a loose ball and played the ball wide to Gedoz. Whose pass was poor and allowed Braga to launch their own counter as Brugge had overcommitted to the attack. Djavan took a touch out wide and whipped in a cross Hassan rose above everyone ad powered his header into the ground. The ball bounced once and went just wide of the post with Butelle just a spectator.
“Booking.” Alex yelled as Luiz Carlos crudely brought down Vanaken to stop a counter. The ref produced the yellow card and Vanaken hit a quick free kick to Zokora. He looked up and slipped in Felipe Gedoz. Gedoz took a touch and blasted his shot well over the bar. Alex threw his hands up in disgust and walked back to his seat.
Alex watched on as to jeers from the crowd Butelle stood over the goal kick. The clock just ticked over 88:30 as Butelle smashed the ball upfield. Braga won the ball after a couple of headers and hit in another cross that was easily headed away and won by Vossen. He passed the ball into the space where the left back had left and Meunier ran onto it. Running down half the pitch Meunier took one last touch and passed to Vossen who was instantly tackled. The ball fell right into Meunier’s path. He looked up and fired a pass to the late runner into the box with a rabona. A stretched toe from 6 yards out sent the ball slowly rolling past the despairing dive of the keeper and in.
Zokora looked in shock that he had scored. His last club goal was in 2004 and last international goal in 2007. After a second of realising he ran towards the dugout and only when he leaped in the air did Alex realise he had to try and catch him. Alex did that as the players and staff all joined in the celebration of the goal that rubberstamped their progress into the next round. After Zokora headed back to the pitch Alex celebrated for a second with his staff and then watched as the game fizzled out until the referee blew the whistle.
The team and staff all went over to celebrate with the fans who had travelled for a few minutes before heading back to the dressing room. Alex felt on top of the world, far better than just watching the game he thought.
Now to see who they would get in the next round