Match Report: SC Braga 1 – 3 Manchester United
By Lee Savery
Three goals in the last ten minutes saw Manchester United come from behind to beat Braga and secure their place into the knock out stages.
The victory never looked like coming in what was such a lifeless display. After a little help from a failed generator that saw the lights go out at the Estadio AXA, the Red Devils came out from the impromptu break and finally delivered.
The match saw Chris Smalling return to the starting line-up after injury and also a rare start from the bench for Robin van Persie. The changes seemed to affect the way the team played and the home side took advantage and dominated for long periods although without creating so many chances.
Eder’s terrific header off the post was the best chance in a rather dull opening 45 minutes. Braga would eventually find the net from a very contentious penalty four minutes into the second half.
Custodio surged into the penalty box and barged into Jonny Evans. The referee thought this was a foul and pointed straight to the spot. Alan smashed it into the top left hand corner. An unstoppable penalty.
The Portuguese side did not press home their advantage and once the players had returned to the pitch, after a twelve minute floodlight failure, United finally got started. However, just like at Old Trafford, Braga would contribute to their own downfall.
After a quick free-kick from the right-back position by Anderson, United moved the ball on through to substitute van Perise who lobbed ball, from outside the area, over Beto who made the odd choice of coming out of his goal to try and get the ball despite having no chance of getting it. It was a key goal from a man who cannot stop scoring this season.
A clear penalty was won by Wayne Rooney after latching onto a rebound from a Javier Hernandez shot, he was brought down by Coelho Nuno Andre. Despite missing against Arsenal on Saturday, Rooney stepped up himself and sent Beto the wrong way. The turnaround was complete and a huge sigh of relief was felt by many United fans.
Chicharito would wrap the victory up after Braga failed to clear their lines in stoppage time. Antonio Valencia cross from the left who found Rooney whose smart flick arrived at the Mexican’s feet. He rounded the keeper before hitting it straight at a defender on the line before prodding home the rebound. It was a comedic goal to finish a superb turnaround.
It was not a classic United performance but the three points mean a spot in the next round for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men and top spot confirmed in the group. A perfect night for the team, eventually, and surely reserves and youngsters will get a chance to play in the final two group matches.
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