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Celtic 2-1 Sporting Braga - Match Report
Published : 04 Aug 2010 22:03:34
First Celtic goals for Gary Hooper and Efrain Juarez in a 2-1 win (4-2 defeat on aggregate) proved to be the only highlights of the club's Champions League campaign after Paulo Cesar's first-half away goal killed off any slim hopes of a comeback against Sporting Braga.
Slack defending from new full-back Cha Du-ri allowed Cesar to put Braga four ahead on aggregate midway through a disappointing first half for Neil Lennon's men.
- Celtic 2-1 Sporting Braga - As it happened
Hooper and Juarez salvaged some pride to win the game but Celtic never built up the attacking momentum needed to prevent them dropping into the Europa League play-off round.
Celtic twice threatened from inswinging corners by Charlie Mulgrew in the opening stages. However Georgios Samaras glanced his header wide from the first and the second broke to Joe Ledley, who sliced over from 16 yards.
But the early pressure soon dissipated and Celtic's task, already tough, grew even more difficult when Braga snatched an away goal in the 21st minute. Alan was allowed room to cross from the right and Cesar ran across Cha before glancing a header beyond the outstretched arm of Lukasz Zaluska and inside the post.
Samaras stretched his leg towards a Juarez cross but could not turn it on target and Celtic almost fell further behind when they were exposed down their left side. Matheus got away from Jos Hooiveld but Zaluska narrowed the angle and blocked at his near post.
Paulo Cesar played a poor ball across goal as Celtic were outnumbered on the counter-attack and the reprieve was soon followed by a 51st-minute leveller.Marc-Antoine Fortune's power and skill won him space on the right side of the box and his excellent low cross was bundled home by Hooper.
The goal lifted the crowd and the team but they soon needed a saving tackle by Cha to prevent Leandro Salina converting after a back-post cross.
Celtic went ahead in the 79th minute when Juarez's deft header flashed in following an inswinging cross by Samaras.
They pushed Braga back for the remainder of the tie but could not threaten again as their Champions League campaign ended at the qualifying stage for the second season running.