CFR Cluj shock Braga
Champions League Group H, Estadio Municipal de Braga – Braga 0 Cluj 2 (Rafael Bastos 19, 34)
CFR Cluj came away from Braga with a shock 2-0 win as Rafael Bastos scored an excellent first-half brace in a chaotic Champions League Group H opener.
The Brazilian opened the scoring after just 19 minutes as he coolly slotted home when one-on-one with the keeper. He doubled their lead 15 minutes later in what was something of a smash and grab from the Romanian side.
The Champions League has rarely seen such poor defending from a home side in the first half. Time and again Cluj broke at pace and the visitors should have been up by more than two at the break.
It took a good 20 minutes for the game to come to life though as Bastos scored with the first real chance of the match. Braga had a corner, but it was cleared with ease and the ball was worked by Bastos to the impressive Modou Sougou. The Senegalese was left alone against the last defender on the halfway line, but played a simple ball square back to the onrushing Brazilian. He took his time and slotted the ball into the near post.
Eder was Braga’s main threat and he went close when going for a Zola-esque flick at the near post, but just did not quite catch it right. He soon followed it up with a good effort from the corner of the area that was palmed wide.
On 33 minutes Pantelis Kapetanos should have made it 2-0. It was woeful defending from the home side as from another corner, Sougou flipped the simplest of through balls from the edge of his area over for the Greek to chase unopposed on the halfway line. Custodio got back, but Kapetanos turned inside him with ease. He was left with the simple task of slotting past Beto, but he dragged his shot wide of the near post.
It was not to matter though as just a minute later Bastos scored a fantastic goal to double his tally and Cluj’s lead. He out muscled Nuno Andre Coelho, beat another before getting a lucky deflection off Custodio. He latched onto the loose ball and hammered the half volley into the top corner.
Mario Felguieras made an excellent early save in the second half to deny a point blank effort from Ruben Micael, and he did so once again from the same player 10 minutes later as this time he repelled a shot from distance.
Kapetanos should have put the game to bed 15 minutes from time following a beautiful pass from Camora, but it did not matter as Braga ran out of ideas and Cluj held on for an unlikely and precious away win.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Rafael Bastos - CFR Cluj: The cutting edge that was the difference between the two teams. Full of running, and took both chances that came along with consummate ease.