Match Report: Manchester United 3 – 2 S.C. Braga
By Lee Savery
A brace from Javier Hernandez helped Manchester United maintain their 100% record in the Champions League this season but had to survive yet another scare to accomplish it.
The Red Devils lined up with the diamond formation that proved quite successful in the wins over Cluj & Newcastle United. Once again, Michael Carrick started in the centre of defence as Rio Ferdinand was rested as an unused substitute.
Anyone hoping for a routine home Champions League win were found wanting after just 90 seconds as Braga’s Brazilian, Alan, headed home, unmarked, former Newcastle United midfielder Hugo Viana’s cross. Another sloppy start that has seen United concede first for the eighth time in twelve matches.
It would get worse, 18 minutes later, as Alan struck again. Eder, from the left-hand side, easily shrugged off Carrick before precisely finding Alan whose finish beat David de Gea at his near post. Once again, unmarked.
Five minutes later however, United pulled one back. Referee, Milorad Mazic played advantage superbly to allow Shinji Kagawa to cross, from the inside-left of the penalty box, precisely to Javier Hernandez who saw his header sneak in despite Beto’s best efforts in the Braga goal.
The goal kick-started United and they finally began to play some good football and were unlucky to not go in at half time level when Kagawa was incorrectly judged offside before Hernandez could tap in his lay-off.
The home side came out in the second half with new vigour and a change in formation as Nani coming on, to add some width, and really took control of the game. Just after the hour mark, the improved performance got its reward. A scuffed corner from Robin van Persie found its way to Jonny Evans who miss-hit his first effort with his right foot before scuffing it in with his left as the ball somehow landed perfectly for him.
Old Trafford was lifted and it seemed only a matter of time before a third would come and it did in the shape of Hernandez. On 76 minutes, Tom Cleverley’s terrific cross from deep found Chicharito unmarked at the far post who guided a thumping header into the net. It was the Mexican’s last action of the match who was substituted soon after to a standing ovation after a superb and lively display.
The defensive issues continue to plague United and the diamond formation proved a hindrance but they continue to come from behind to get victories. A superb second half display leaves them in complete control of Group H.
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