Falcao strikes to give Porto Europa victory

Porto 1 Braga 0

Andre Villas-Boas wrote his name into the history books as he followed his illustrious predecessors in leading Porto to glory with a 1-0 victory over Braga in tonight's Europa League final in Dublin.

Falcao's header just before the end of the first half was enough to give the 33-year-old Porto boss his third trophy of an incredible first season in charge which sees him become the youngest coach to win a UEFA competition.

Braga substitute Mossoro wasted a golden chance to equalise when he fired straight at Helton when clean through, but otherwise the Arsenalistas never looked like threatening the Portuguese champions.

The match may not have been a pulsating affair, but that should not detract from the magnitude of Villas-Boas' achievements.

The young coach has enjoyed a stellar first full campaign in management, clinching the league unbeaten and the Portuguese Super Cup before tonight's victory, which guarantees him a place alongside some of Porto's coaching greats.

Two of Villas-Boas' mentors, Sir Bobby Robson and Jose Mourinho both won Europe's second club competition with the club and the fact that the Dragons have rampaged through Portugal and Europe this season will only serve to strengthen rumours linking the Porto boss with a summer move to one of the continent's heavyweights.

The match had been billed as an entertaining encounter but the majority of the opening 45 minutes slipped by without barely raising a pulse of the 45,391 fans inside the Aviva Stadium.

Hulk was Porto's best player in the opening exchanges, drifting down the right flank, skipping past the wayward full-back Silvio on a few occasions.

The Brazil striker, who has been linked with a number of Europe's top clubs, used his skill to slip past Silvio and Paulo Cesar before firing just past Artur's far post from six yards.

Silvestre Varela's ambitious overhead kick sailed over the bar, but the Braga goal was rarely threatened.

The underdogs looked cagey and unwilling to take the risk of racing at their opponents, perhaps mindful of the threat that Porto posed on the counter.

Porto goalkeeper Helton rushed out to prevent Lima from shooting from 15 yards but Braga otherwise looked impotent.

Hugo Viana entered the book for a sliding tackle on Hulk, who then wasted a 35-yard free-kick by shooting at least 10 feet over the Braga goal.

Fredy Guarin found Varela in the box but the Porto forward spectacularly miscued a diving header wide as the game dithered on.

A brilliant flick from Guarin allowed him to slip past Alberto Rodriguez, but Paulao covered to deny the Porto man an opportunity to shoot.

Artur almost paid a high price for his lethargic attempt to clear when his kick was charged down by Falcao but the ball bounced wide of the Braga goal.

The prolific striker soon had the ball in the net though when he lost his marker to meet Guarin's cross and nod home from six yards with 90 seconds of the first half remaining.

It was the Colombian's 17th goal of the competition proper, with an additional strike coming in the club's play-off against Rapid Vienna in September.

Braga boss Domingos Paciencia brought on Kaka and Mossoro for Hugo Viana and Alberto Rodriguez at the break and the move almost paid off immediately.

Mossoro could not have wished for a better opportunity to equalise when he dispossessed Fernando to race through, but he dallied and the Porto stopper saved with his legs.

Cristian Sapunaru clattered into Paulo Cesar and went into the referee's book before Braga duo Miguel Garcia and Mossoro also saw yellow moments later.

Braga looked more lively in the second half but Mossoro's opportunity aside, Helton was still not being tested.

Paciencia looked to Albert Meyong for inspiration, the Cameroon striker coming on for Lima with 25 minutes left.

A pacy ball across the box eluded Falcao's head as Porto looked for the killer blow before Paulao headed just over at the other end from six yards, although he was correctly ruled to be offside by the linesman.

Villas-Boas crouched nervously on the touchline as Alan played in Meyong but the Porto boss had little to be worried about as Helton easily claimed the striker's weak shot.

Kaka became the fifth Braga man to see yellow when he was harshly adjudged to have fouled Falcao.

Porto substitute Fernando Belluschi sent a swerving shot just wide of Artur's near post with five minutes left as Braga struggled to get into the game.

Porto dominated possession, but the Arsenalistas had a good chance to threaten the leaders' goal with a corner three minutes from time but Alan sent the ball too deep.

Meyong was presented with a chance in the final minute of injury time but he volleyed over before being correctly called offside.

Braga keeper Artur had a header saved in the last move of the match before the final whistle went and Villas-Boas was mobbed by his victorious team on the pitch.

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