Porto 1 Braga 0: Falcao heads Porto to Europa League glory
Striker's header on the brink of half-time gives Andre Villas-Boas' men win over Braga in Europa League final
Falcao scored the only goal of the game as Porto were crowned Europa League champions after beating local rivals Braga in Dublin.
Falcao, who had already scored 16 Europa League goals this season, added to his growing reputation when he clinically headed home Fredy GuarÃƒÂn’s delicious cross just before the break.
Wednesday’s final sealed the second of a possible four trophies for Andre Villas-Boas’ men this season after he guided his team to the Portuguese league title unbeaten.
At 33 years old, the highly-rated Porto coach, who worked under Jose Mourinho at both Chelsea and Internazionale, has become the youngest manager to win a Uefa club competition as he continues his remarkable first season in charge.
A cautious Braga offered little in the first period aside from a speculative half-volley from CustÃƒÂ³dio four minutes in.
Porto’s Brazilian forward Hulk outwitted the Braga rearguard on several occasions but failed to produce a final ball for the in-from Falcao to convert in what was a cagey opening in the Irish capital.
Porto boss Villas-Boas began to patrol his technical area as the first half came to a close, the coach urging his side to make the most of the long spells of possession the Portuguese champions were enjoying.
And the 33-year-old watched his side take the lead moments before the interval when Falcao finally broke clear of PaulÃƒ£o to give Porto a deserved lead with a well-taken header.
Braga manager Domingos PaciÃƒÂªncia reacted after the break by replacing Hugo Viana and RodrÃƒÂguez win KakÃƒÂ¡ and MossorÃƒÂ³.
And it was the latter who wasted Braga’s best chance to conjure an equaliser just moments after the restart.
MossorÃƒÂ³ stole the ball from Fernando and found himself through with only Helton to beat, but the Porto stopper was able to deflect the Braga forward’s nervous attempt away to preserve his side’s lead.
Braga’s start to the second half was in stark contrast to the opening period, but their dominance lasted all of five minutes before Porto took control once more.
Villas-Boas’ men then showcased their European pedigree as they eased through the remaining half-hour largely untroubled by a Braga side devoid of any attacking flair.
Porto had chances to make the closing moments more comfortable. Hulk’s creative cross flew just over the head of Pereira before substitute Fernando Belluschi saw his speculative attempt drift wide of Artur’s left post.
Porto manager Andre Villas-Boas said:
“I do feel just a little sad, because both teams could have been better. Both teams found it hard, but that is nothing new in a final.
“Braga are always very aggressive and very compact, which makes our work very hard. But there is a great joy in winning the trophy.
“Without a doubt this is a great feat. We have one trophy left for a memorable season. This has a huge emotional impact for us.
“Round after round, we kept believing more. Porto becomes an even more special club, even more unique. It adds another trophy, which is important and builds its future.”
Porto striker Falcao said:
“I am very, very happy – I lived for a moment like this – but this is especially for the team. I thank God and Porto to be in a position like this. Being the top-scorer is just an extra, what matters is the victory.”
Porto: Helton, Sapunaru, Rolando, Otamendi, Pereira, Guarin (Belluschi 73), Fernando, Joao Moutinho, Hulk, Falcao, Varela (James Rodriguez 79).
Braga: Artur Moraes, Miguel Garcia, Paulao, Rodriguez (Kaka 46), Silvio, Custodio, Hugo Viana (Mossoro 46), Vandinho, Alan, Lima (Meyong 66), Paulo Cesar.