Thill-ing Sheriff lay down law to Braga
Sheriff Tiraspol marked a club record 15th European game this season with a stunning 2-0 UEFA Europa League (UEL) round of 32 victory against SC Braga, adding to their incredible Champions League victory over Real Madrid.
However, the Portuguese side edged a cagey first half, and Sheriff had Stefanos Evangelou to thank for keeping the scores level with a superb clearance off the line to clear away Ricardo Horta’s deft effort, with the Braga skipper expertly picked out by Al-Musrati’s perfectly-weighted pass.
Despite being under the cosh for large periods of the game, it was the hosts that took the lead thanks to Sébastien Thill’s penalty. Referee Danny Makkelie walked over to the monitor following a consultation with the VAR and determined that André Castro had handled the ball inside the box from a corner, leaving Thill to clinically dispatch the resulting spot-kick past Matheus in the 43rd minute.
That goal did little to alter the tepid nature of this contest, thanks to some resolute defending from the defensive trio of Evangelou, Stjepan Radeljić, and Charles Petro. Bruno’s work rate down the right flank was also admirable, as Yuriy Vernydub’s team looked to grind out another impressive result on the continent. That resoluteness was tested though, when substitute Francisco Moura nodded the ball down and fired a strike towards goal that was palmed away by Giorgos Athanasiadis.
However, their defensive work reaped dividends, as Adama Traoré capitalised on a costly slip from Bruno Rodrigues and doubled Sheriff’s lead to make the final score 2-0 to the hosts, condemning Braga to a fifth defeat in their last seven UEL away matches. The two sides will battle it out again when the decisive second leg takes place in Portugal a week today.