Sporting Braga manager Domingos Paciencia was delighted with his side’s progression to the Europa League final on Thursday.The Liga Sagres outfit won through to their first European final after a 1-0 second-leg win against Benfica which gave them a 2-2 aggregate result, progressing on away goals.
They will face another Portuguese side, Porto, in the final in Dublin on May 18 and Paciencia sang the praises of his players after reaching the showpiece event.
“I’m happy for the squad, it’s a fantastic group,” Paciencia said.
“They are great professionals and have reason to be proud. It’s unique to be in a final.”
Braga defensive midfielder Custodio won the tie for his side with his 18th-minute header but afterwards he played down his personal performance, insisting it had been a team effort.
“I’m no hero. We all are heroes – those who played, those who stayed on the bench, those who stayed in the stands, the fans,” Custodio said.
“There are no words to describe how we are feeling. It’s fantastic. I want to dedicate this to our families. We will play to win the final. It’s our ambition. We are true warriors.”
Benfica boss Jorge Jesus blamed his side’s failure to convert their chances as the reason why they missed the chance to take on rivals Porto in the final.
Javier Saviola hit the post in the first half and missed a gilt-edged chance with 10 minutes remaining, while Alan Kardec had a header cleared off the line on the verge of injury time.
“We didn’t get lucky,” Jesus said.
“We had several chances and we couldn’t manage to score. The Braga goalkeeper (Artur) was inspired and denied us some chances. We are disappointed.”
Benfica defender Jardel said his side did not deserve to make the final as the disappointment of defeat lingered.
“We’re very sad. We didn’t deserve to go out like this for all that we achieved in the competition until now. Unfortunately we couldn’t score,” Jardel said.