Braga coach Domingos Paciencia is adamant his side can overturn the 2-1 deficit in the reverse Europa League semi-final tie against Benfica.
Paciencia’s side could not contain Benfica, who scored a 2-1 win at the Estadio da Luz on Thursday courtesy of a sumptuous free-kick from Paraguayan Oscar Cardozo.
Braga now welcome the Portuguese giants to the Estadio AXA next Thursday, and will be hoping their precious away goal will count in their favour in front of their home crowd.
“Defeat is not a good result but we know that everything is open,” 42-year-old Paciencia said. “We will try to come back at home and go through.”
“What I can say is that it will certainly be a different Braga than here.”
Paciencia admitted the occasion caused pre-match jitters within his dressing room, and that may have impacted on their display early in the game.
“We need to start better. We were very nervous because of the importance of the game. As the match went on we got better and in the second half we created chances,” he said.
“We could have scored one more but we know that 1-0 will be enough, so the players have confidence. Playing at home in front of our fans we will be great.”
Benfica manager Jorge Jesus, while lamenting his side’s failure to put more goals past their opponents, is confident his side is headed for the final in Dublin on May 18.
“We have won the first match,” he said. “It was like that against PSG and Sttutgart, so this result at home is nothing new for us.”
“We deserved more (or) at least to end with a two-goal advantage. Braga didn’t create any chances to score.”
“Their goal was from a set-piece situation and they didn’t create many difficulties for us. We go to Braga better than we started the tie. Of course I believe that I will go to Dublin, the result gives us that faith.”
Former Valencia playmaker Pablo Aimar, who is suspended for the corresponding fixture, reminded his Benfica team-mates that there was still another 90 minutes to play before they could think about the final.
Should they progress to Dublin, they will likely face bitter rivals Porto, who recorded a resounding 5-1 win over Villarreal in the first leg of the competition’s other semi-final.
“We knew that they would defend well – they came to prevent us from scoring,” the Argentine said.
“We created many chances to score, especially in the first half. A 2-1 advantage is narrow; the tie is still open. It will be hard to miss the second leg.”
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