Match Facts
Birmingham 1 Braga 3
Date : Thu Sep 15 20:05:00 BST 2011 Kick Off : Thu Sep 15 20:05:00 BST 2011
Venue : St. Andrews Ground Attendance : 21747
Comp : UEFA Cup Referee : Deniz Aytekin
 
Click Here For Detailed Match Stats
 
Goals :
King 71
Helder Barbosa 6
Lima 59
Helder Barbosa 88
 First Team Match Report

Marlon King in action against Braga

Brave Blues fell to defeat in their opening UEFA Europa League group game this evening but it was a sterling effort from Chris Hughton's much-changed side against an impressive SC Braga outfit.

The Blues boss rang the changes, possibly with one eye on the important league trip to high-flying Southampton in three days time, with seven differences from the team that beat Millwall in the league at the weekend.

Guirane N'Daw and Pablo Ibanez were handed their debuts and fellow summer signings Marlon King and Wade Elliott also given their first starts for Blues.

King was awarded the man of the match for his tireless efforts which were rewarded with his side's only goal of the night.

Unfortunately by that time the hosts were trailing to goals from Lima and Barbosa and the latter put the result beyond doubt just before the end.

However Blues could and perhaps should have taken the lead after just five minutes of the contest.

King showed an excellent turn of speed to hurdle a challenge by the halfway line and set off on a rampaging run down the right wing.

Stephen Carr in action against Braga

The former Coventry man then had the vision to pick out Adam Rooney just eight yards out but the Irishman's left-footed effort ruffled the side-netting when he may have enjoyed better success going with his right boot.

The hosts were made to pay just 60 seconds later when Braga took the lead.

Elderson's delicate chip found Barbosa just inside the area and the in-form striker's volley found the back of the net via the hand of Boaz Myhill and the underside of the bar for his fourth goal in as many games.

The visitors went close again moments later when former Newcastle midfielder Hugo Viana's 25-yard free-kick was turned around the post by Myhill.

Last season's finalists continued to press and won a series of corners, one of which from Alan threatened to drop into the top corner but Myhill was alert to the danger and tipped the ball over the bar.

Blues responded well with a tremendous cross from full debutant Wade Elliott that reached Nathan Redmond on the left edge of the area and the teenager's curling shot was parried away uncomfortably by Quim.

Hughton's side then won a free-kick wide on the left and Elliott swung in a fizzing cross which Rooney glanced on and the ball dropped only a few inches above Quim's bar.

Clear-cut chances were few and far between during the latter stages of the first period and it was the visitors that went into the break with the narrow advantage.

King was clearly eager to impress and covered nearly every blade of grass in his efforts to try and get Blues back into the game.

Redmond also saw a little more of the ball during the early exchanges of the second half and put in one particularly dangerous inswinging cross but unfortunately it just missed the head of Rooney.

Nathan Redmond in action against Braga

Blues' hopes of getting anything from the game became more remote when the visitors doubled their lead just before the hour but it came in controversial circumstances.

Lima was clearly offside when a ball came into the box but when David Murphy cut out the cross it fell back to the Braga man who rifled past Myhill.

Hughton responded by bringing on weekend hero Chris Wood and Chris Burke in place of Rooney and N'Daw.

Burke was straight into the action with a shot from distance that drifted just wide of the target.

Myhill showed great reflexes to punch away a vicious shot from Lima and the Blues number one also got down well to deny Barbosa.

Blues were back in the game with 20 minutes to play when King got the goal that his play had warranted.

But it was Burke that did all the hard work with a forging run into the area and the ex-Cardiff man laid it on a plate for his team-mate.

The substitute's tremendous low cross evaded the keeper and the Blues striker had the simple job of stroking the ball into an unguarded net.

This was the spark for an all-out assault on the Braga goal as Hughton's side well and truly took the game to their opponents.

King stung the hands of Quim with a fierce shot and then Redmond's goalbound effort was deflected wide.

Liam Ridgewell in action against Braga

The young winger went even closer soon after when his tremendous curling shot looked to be heading for the top corner until Quim clawed it over the bar.

Murphy then wasn't far away with a free kick that dipped just over.

As Blues pressed for the equaliser, Hughton's side were left short of numbers at the back and it led to a third goal from Braga with just two minutes to go.

Barbosa grabbed his second goal of the game tapping home from close range and it harsh on Blues who had battled hard.

It was always going to be a tough test and Blues still have plenty of remaining group games to get their qualification hopes back on track.

Meanwhile, Hughton's side head for the South Coast on Sunday for a vital league clash as they look to continue their surge up the table.

Blues: Boaz Myhill, Stephen Carr, David Murphy, Pablo Ibanez, Liam Ridgewell, Wade Elliott, Guirane N'Daw (Chris Burke 60), Jonathan Spector, Nathan Redmond, Adam Rooney (Chris Wood 60), Marlon King.
Subs not used: Colin Doyle, Steven Caldwell, Jean Beausejour, Curtis Davies, Akwasi Asante.
Goal: King
Booking: Rooney

Braga: Quim, Ewerton Almeida, Baiano, Lima (Carlao 84), Elderson, Nuno Gomes (Leandro Salino 73), Djamal Mahamat, Paulo Vinicius, Alan, Hugo Viana, Helder Barbosa (Paulo Cesar 89).
Subs not used: Tommaso, Mossoro, Fran Merida, Emmanuel Imorou.
Goals: Barbosa 2, Lima
Booking: Lima

Attendance: 21,747 (87 away fans)

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