Estádio AXA, Braga, Portugal
Fourth-placed Braga inflicted a damaging defeat for title hopefuls Porto at the Estadio AXA.
Ahmed Hassan put the home side ahead before Maximiliano Pereira brought the Dragões level late on. However Rafa Silva and substitute Alan struck late to ensure the Arsenalistas kept in touch of a European place and all but put Porto out of the title-race.
It was the visitors who had started the game better, however, and went close after five minutes when Marafona tipped away Hyun-Jun Suk’s shot from an André André cross.
The visitors very nearly broke the deadlock midway through the first half when Yacine Brahimi hit the outside of the post with a freekick.
The hosts looked to threaten the visitors on the break, and went close when Silva wriggled past a few players before firing just over. Six minutes later, they nearly took the lead. Hassan, chipped Casillas when played through, but he was to be denied by the woodwork and Maximiliano Pereira and Rúben Neves did well to block the follow-ups.
The pressure was obviously too much for Porto’s interim manager José Peseiro as he was sent to the stands for dissent.
Ten minutes later, Braga went close. Baiano surged forward; cutting inside before curling an effort that Iker Casillas parried before gathering at the second attempt.
After the break, the visitors went close to going ahead when Neves fired narrowly wide of the far post from range in the 62nd minute. Seven minutes later, substitute Vincent Aboubakar went close. After receiving the ball from Brahimi, he found space to fire an effort that was charged down well by Willy Boly.
Two minutes later, the hosts went ahead. In calamitous fashion, Iván Marcano made a hash of a clearance, with the ball falling invitingly to Hassan, who sent Casillas the wrong way to put the Arsenalistas ahead.
Nine minutes later, they should have put the game to bed. Silva was played through and bent an effort that hit the outside of the post, with the woodwork coming to Casillas’ rescue again.
Three minutes later, the hosts felt that Danilo should have been sent off. The Porto midfielder, already cautioned earlier in the second half, cynically brought down Hassan right under the referee’s nose, but the referee kept his cards in his pocket.
To make matters worse, the visitors then went onto equalise two minutes later. Héctor Herrera was played onside but after his effort was blocked by a mixture of Marafona and Boly, former Benfica full-back Maximiliano Pereira scuffed home the loose ball past Boly to level the scores.
However they were level for barely four minutes. Djavan was played onside, and after bursting down the left flank, he delivered a brilliant low cross into the danger area for the awaiting Silva at the back-post, who tapped in to put Braga in front again.
A minute later, the visitors’ task got even more difficult when already-booked Bruno Martins Indi received his marching orders after getting a second yellow card for a cynical challenge.
Four minutes into injury time, the hosts took advantage and made it three from a swift break. Instead of taking the ball to the corner flag, Pedro Santos spotted substitute Alan in acres of space, and in an attempt to sweep the ball away, Casillas came running out only to misjudge the ball and Alan nipped in to curl the ball home into the unguarded net. It was unfortunate for the Spanish keeper, who has received a lot of criticism since his move from Real Madrid, but his defense didn’t cover him in glory either, nevertheless, the result was never in doubt.
The result meant that Porto remain in third with 55 points, but Braga, still in fourth, close the gap to eight points. Porto are now four points behind Sporting and six points behind leaders Benfica.