LISBON (Reuters) - Sporting Lisbon, reduced to 10 men after 15 minutes and 2-0 behind after half an hour, staged an astonishing fightback to draw 2-2 and then beat Braga on penalties in the Portuguese Cup final on Sunday.
Sporting scored twice in the last six minutes, including a stoppage-time equaliser after dreadful Braga defending, to take the final to extra-time and then won the shootout 3-1 against shattered opponents.
The first of several dramatic twists came in the 15th minute when Braga left back Djavan burst into the Sporting area and was tripped by Cedric Soares.
Although it did not seem to be a clear scoring chance, Soares was given a straight red and Eder sent Rui Patricio the wrong way from the penalty spot.
Braga extended their lead with a move which started from a Sporting corner 10 minutes later. The ball was cleared upfield, Rafa dispossessed Miguel Lopes and ran on to place his shot past Rui Patricio.
Sporting appeared to have lost hope and many fans had already left the stadium when Islam Slimani brought them back into the game.
The Algerian intercepted a poor pass out of defence and scored with a low shot with six minutes left.
Sporting turned the screw and levelled when two Braga defenders misjudged a long ball into the area and Fredy Montero pounced to equalise.
Braga also finished with 10 men after Mauro was sent off for a second bookable offence in stoppage time and their misery was complete when Andre Pinto, Eder and Salvador Agra missed successive penalties in the shootout.
“Nobody believed in the comeback, we did and we managed to equalise with positive thinking,” Sporting forward Nani told reporters. “That’s football, it can change in a matter of minutes.”
It was the 16th time Sporting have won the Cup, pulling them level with Porto, but still nine short of record winners Benfica, who wrapped up this season’s league title.
Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne, editing by Mark Meadows
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