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Ismaily thunderbolt keeps Braga and Udinese level

SC Braga 1-1 Udinese Calcio

A thunderous effort from Ismaily cancelled out Dušan Basta's first-half header for the visitors and ensured the teams will go to Italy all square.

jose-peseiroA spectacular goal from Ismaily cancelled out Dušan Basta's first-half opener and rescued a draw for SC Braga in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off against Udinese Calcio.

The Italian side had to withstand some early Braga pressure but snatched the lead against the run of play midway through the opening period, Basta heading in an Antonio Di Natale free-kick. While the home team created more openings they were unable to unpick the Udinese defence but finally did so spectacularly, an Ismaily thunderbolt bringing them level in the 68th minute. Braga pressed throughout but a fine display from Željko Brkić in the visitors' goal kept Udinese on level terms.

While Braga's sole group stage appearance came in 2010/11, Udinese have not featured among Europe's elite since 2005 and a return initially looked unlikely as Braga began brightly. The Portuguese team were largely restricted to long-range efforts but might have taken the lead through such a method in the 21st minute as Douglão's dummy gave Paulo Vinícius time to measure a right-footed shot that Brkić acrobatically tipped over.

Two minutes later a goal did arrive – at the other end. Giampiero Pinzi won a free-kick down the right and Di Natale delivered perfectly for Basta to rise at the far post and direct a powerful header beyond Beto.

The home side sought a rapid response, Brkić proving equal to two Hugo Viana efforts from distance before the break. Ismaily and Lima sent shots skidding wide as Braga increased the tempo in the second half, although it took a fabulous double save from Beto to keep them in contention.

Pinzi's cross was met by the head of Roberto Pereyra yet the goalkeeper flung himself to his right to claw out the effort and then recovered immediately to block Di Natale's follow-up. Already crucial, that save quickly took on even more importance when Ismaily finally beat Brkić with an unstoppable left-foot strike from 30 metres.

The goalkeeper was equal to another long-range effort, stretching to touch over Rúben Micael's shot – Braga's 20th attempt of the evening. Brkić had already marked his UEFA Champions League debut with a fine display by the time he blocked Lima's late effort, ensuring Basta's away goal gives Udinese a slender advantage for the return on 28 August.

Tags: SC Braga | Udinese Calcio | UEFA Champions League

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