Brazilian forward Matheus struck two late goals to give Braga a 2-O win over Arsenal in the Champions League on Tuesday and deny the London team the satisfaction of sealing their progress into the second round.
Arsenal, who had needed only a draw to qualify with a game to spare, lost the Group H lead to Shakhtar Donetsk, 3-0 winners over bottom team Partizan Belgrade.
Braga drew level with Arsenal on nine points, but need to beat Shakhtar by a margin of four goals away on Dec. 8, or draw and hope that Partizan take points off Arsenal at the Emirates.
“We have to believe. We could reach the end of the group with three teams on 12 points. But we know perfectly well that it will not be easy,” Braga coach Domingos Paciencia said.
Braga had conceded six goals in their group-stage debut at Arsenal in September but were much improved at home, giving the English side little room to deploy their smooth passing game.
“We have to win the next match. With these results, Shakhtar becomes favourite to win the group,” Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger told Portuguese television.
Substitute Elton created Matheus’s first goal moments after coming on by supplying a delightful pass from his own half. Matheus ran into the box and put the ball over Arsenal keeper Lukasz Fabianski on 83 minutes.
Matheus’s second came deep into injury time, also from a counter-attack, with the forward surrounded by three Arsenal defenders but still managing to fire in a shot that went in after hitting the bar.
“It won’t be easy against Shakhtar, but in football anything can happen. We scored four goals in Sevilla and, who knows, maybe we can do it again,” the striker said, referring to Braga’s 4-3 win in Spain in the playoff stage.
Fabregas out for 2-3 weeks, says Wenger
Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas could be out of action for upto three weeks after injuring his hamstring.
Fabregas was substituted in the 69th minute of the 2-0 loss in Portugal with his team mate Emmanuel Eboue also suffering a knee injury.
“Eboue will be out for a while and we will have to asses Fabregas tomorrow (Wednesday),” Wenger told the club’s website after the match. “It could be two to three weeks.”