Champions League - United seal comeback win over Braga

Champions League Group H, Old Trafford - Manchester United 3 (Hernandez 25, 75, Evans 62) Braga 2 (Alan 2, 20)

Eurosport
Premier League - Paper Round: Hernandez ready to quit United
.

View photo

Manchester United's Javier Hernandez celebrates his second goal against Braga during their Champions League Group H match at Old Trafford in Manchester (Reuters)

Manchester United came from two goals down to beat Braga 3-2 in Champions League Group H at Old Trafford with Javier Hernandez scoring a brace.

A superb second-half performance meant United were deserving winners, with Hernandez's headers - one in each half - sandwiching a scrambled Jonny Evans effort.

However there will again be question marks over their defence, with the decision to rest Rio Ferdinand and play midfielder Michael Carrick in the centre alongside Evans almost proving costly after Alan's early goals put Braga in the driving seat.

United were stunned when Braga went into that early lead. The visitors attacked from the start, winning a corner in the first minute. A throw-in followed and from that, former Newcastle midfielder Hugo Viana swung in a cross that Alan headed inside the near post after leaving marker Alex Buttner trailing.

There has now been a goal inside the opening 15 minutes in United's last six Champions League matches. They went behind at Cluj in the last match before coming back to win 2-1 while Carrick scored the only goal of the game at home to Galatasaray in their opener.

With Ferdinand and Patrice Evra rested, Carrick and the home defence looked uncomfortable when Braga countered. In contrast, the Portuguese outfit filled the midfield, frustrating the winger-less midfield diamond and allowing United fruitless space out wide.

They had barely had a sniff of goal when Braga went two up on 20 minutes. Tall striker Eder left Carrick for dead on the touchline and his pull-back was expertly sidefooted home by Alan several yards out at the near post.

Still United looked uncertain, with Eder causing more problems for Carrick and Wayne Rooney - operating in a withdrawn attacking role with Robin van Persie and Hernandez up top - giving the ball away in his own half.

New talisman Van Persie was to provide a route back into the match only five minutes after going two down and seemingly from nowhere. The Netherlands star spun free of his markers on the left and angled towards the corner of the box, whereupon he was taken out by a heavy challenge: referee Milorad Mazic waved advantage and Shinji Kagawa picked out Mexico striker Hernandez, often overlooked this season, at the far post. Beto was unable to keep out his header.

United had the momentum, with Hernandez just unable to turn home a Van Persie cross following a one-two with Rooney and Buttner claiming a penalty after swerving into the box - in fact he slipped and collided with Leandro Salino - but Braga too carried a threat, with Alan volleying wide from distance.

United boss Alex Ferguson was angered when Kagawa was ruled offside with Hernandez perfectly placed in the middle, but he could not complain when United went in behind at the break.

Having introduced Nani for the injured Kagawa, United attacked the Stretford End from the start of the second period.

Rafael burst down the right and played a one-two with Tom Cleverley, forcing Elderson to foul him, and Van Persie's whipped free-kick was beaten away by Beto at the near post.

Around the hour mark Nani headed a Rooney corner wide of the near post before the England striker won the ball and provided a cross which Van Persie could not quite turn home. Moments later, Cleverley's low cross from the right was palmed away by a diving Beto with Hernandez lurking.

And on 62 minutes, a minute further on, United were level. Van Persie's corner from the right was missed by Evans inside the box, but the ball came off Alan and the Northern Irishman was able to stab home at the second attempt.

Another poor offside decision denied United a chance when Hernandez was flagged from Van Persie's lifted through ball. The Mexican then turned provider when spinning inside from the left touchline and breaking through a challenge before feeding the motoring Nani with the outside of his boot, but the Portuguese - who was given his senior debut by Braga boss Jose Peseiro in Sporting Lisbon's Champions League qualifier against Udinese in August 2005 - saw his rocketed shot blocked at the near post.

On 75 minutes United were finally ahead. Cleverley sent a long cross from the right to the far post where Hernandez crashed his header past Beto.

From there United looked comfortable, except for when keeper David de Gea looked to play out between two strikers and was almost punished.

However the Red Devils now have three wins from three while Braga on three points are a point behind Cluj, who drew 1-1 in Istanbul against Gala. The Turkish side prop up Group H with a solitary point.

MAN OF THE MATCH:

Javier Hernandez - Manchester United: The Mexico striker will be banging on Alex Ferguson's door for more starts after his brace.

PLAYER RATINGS

MANCHESTER UNITED: De Gea 5; Rafael 6, Evans 7, Carrick 5, Buttner 7; Cleverley 7, Fletcher 6, Kagawa 7, Rooney 7; Hernandez 9, Van Persie 8. Subs: Giggs 6, Nani

BRAGA: Beto 7; Leandro Salino 6, Nuno André Coelho 6, Paulo Vinícius 6, Elderson 6; Ruben Amorim 7, Rúben Micael 7, Custódio 7, Hugo Viana 6; Alan 9, Éder 7. Subs: Mossoró 6, Hélder Barbosa 6, Zé Luis 6

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS

View photo

.

View Comments