Pompey slump to first defeat
Portsmouth suffered a first-ever European defeat, losing 3-0 to Braga in Portugal on Thursday night.
Last Updated: 24/10/08 10:24am
Portsmouth suffered a first-ever European defeat at the hands of Portuguese outfit Braga on Thursday night.
Goals from Luis Aguiar, Wason Renteria and Osorio Alan sealed the points in the Estadio Municipal.
Around 700 Pompey fans congregated in one corner - compared to nearly 4,000 for the previous trip to Portugal in the first round second-leg success three weeks ago against neighbouring Vitoria Guimaraes.
Braga were determined to find inspiration from their enthusiastic support and had the first shot after two minutes when Uruguayan Aguiar fired wide from the edge of the area from Alan's ball in from the right.
When Armand Traore fired Pompey's opening salvo from a Jermain Defoe pass it led to a corner which Braga keeper Eduardo struggled to clear.
But in the eighth minute the visitors were stunned when Aguiar curled in the opening goal from a superb 30-yard free-kick after a yellow-carded foul by Papa Bouba Diop on Vanderson Vandinho.
There were mass celebrations on the touchline with the scorer swamped by his team-mates and technical staff but Braga were soon focused again and Vandinho warmed David James' hands with a fierce, but too straight, shot from well outside the area.
Pompey had to dampen down the hosts' early fire and Sean Davis and Diop began to get in some biting tackles in the centre of midfield, trying to release Defoe and Peter Crouch.
But when Crouch outjumped defenders at the far post from a Glen Little free- kick in the 17th minute his header was well over the crossbar.
Then there was a new setback for Pompey as Little pulled up with an injured hamstring and had to be replaced by John Utaka in the 21st minute.
Crouch was booked next for a reckless tackle on Nascimento Matheus as Pompey struggled to find their discipline.
But at last there was a decent chance for the visitors in the 29th minute when Nuno Frechaut failed to cut out a ball over the top from Crouch and Defoe was suddenly free just inside the area.
But Eduardo was quickly out to him and the little striker could only drive his shot at the goalkeeper's body and saw it bounce away.
Wide-men Utaka and Traore had yet to offer a real threat beyond the half-hour mark and Sol Campbell and Sylvain Distin were often stretched to deny Braga's speedy counter-raids.
Campbell brought down Matheus with his team-mates berating the referee trying to get the Pompey captain booked but Campbell stayed cool to head Aguiar's free-kick over the bar when James seemed slow to come out and collect.
In the second period, Pompey looked desperate when Braga grabbed a second goal two minutes after the re-start.
It was cleverly set up by Albert Meyong's step-over dummy, Aguiar's through pass and then Renteria's well-timed run, the striker staying just onside for a cool finish.
After the wild celebrations Renteria blotted his copybook, after a foul by Pompey's half-time substitute Nadir Belhadj, by pleading with the referee to show a yellow card. He did - to Renteria.
But nothing could spoil Braga's joy it seemed. Their small but noisy band of fans were having a great night out while Pompey boss Harry Redknapp waved his arms in frustration on the touchline.
Pompey had the ball in the net just before the hour-mark, Crouch's header appearing to go in off defender Evra's body after Eduardo fumbled, but the referee ruled it out, possibly for offside.
Aguiar could have added another goal for Braga but shot into the side-netting from a great position.
There were more bookings to come for Portsmouth, with Noe Pamarot and Defoe yellow-carded.
The hosts then wrapped up a solid victory three minutes from time when Sean Davis steered a right-wing cross against his own post and midfielder Alan followed up to fire into the roof of the net.