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A Manchester United misfit has finished his season as a champion

Nani’s Sporting Lisbon won a dramatic Portuguese Cup earlier this evening.

Image: Francisco Seco/AP/Press Association Images

NANI EXPRESSED HIS joy at Sporting lifting the Taca de Portugal in dramatic style by beating Braga despite playing most of the match a man down and having been 2-0 down until the 84th minute.

Eder put Braga ahead after 16 minutes from the penalty spot, with the preceding foul seeing Cedric sent off, before Rafa Silva doubled the lead shortly afterwards to make it seem a certainty that Sergio Conceicao’s men would lift the club’s first Taca since 1966.

However, Algeria forward Islam Slimani pulled a goal back with six minutes left on the clock and Fredy Montero levelled in the third minute of stoppage-time to give Sporting a fighting chance at their first piece of silverware since 2008.

Braga were also reduced to 10 men when Mauro was sent off in extra-time but no further goals were scored, leaving Sporting to wrap up the topsy-turvy triumph with a 3-1 penalty shootout win.

Nani, playing his final match for the club before the end of his loan from Manchester United, stressed the comeback was no fluke as the players strived throughout the 120 minutes to claim the positive result.

Slovenia Soccer Champions League Nani has enjoyed a solid if unspectacular time on loan with Sporting. Source: Darko Bandic/AP/Press Association Images

“Winning like this makes victory taste so much sweeter,” he told RTP. “It is a unique feeling. It was a great game to watch, we were a man down from practically the start… No one believed we could do it.

“But we are united and always believed that we could get back into the game to get a result. Football is like this – in two minutes the game can turn.

“Therefore you can’t lower your head. You fight until the final minute.”

Contrastingly, Braga boss Conceicao conceded the way they were beaten in the final left a “bitter taste” especially as he does not think Sporting earned their 16th Taca de Portugal at all.

“It is sad to lose the way we did,” he said. “Two errors resulted in the two goals we conceded, but we were superior for the rest of the match.

“We could have gotten a third goal and that would have given us such peace of mind. Alas, this defeat leaves a bitter taste in our mouths. The players were tireless in their efforts.”

Braga had only won the competition once in their history (1965-66), with their only other major trophy being lifted two years ago when they triumphed in the Taca da Liga.

Sporting, on the other hand, now go level with Porto with 16 victories in Portugal’s main cup competition, nine behind Benfica’s record of 25 triumphs.

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