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United fightback douses early Braga burst

Manchester United FC 3-2 SC Braga
Alan put the visitors two up after 20 minutes but, in time-honoured fashion, Sir Alex Ferguson's side fought back to record a third win in Group H.

United fightback douses early Braga burst
United fightback douses early Braga burst ©UEFA.com

Manchester United FC added another page to their long history of comebacks as they recovered from two goals down to beat SC Braga and take a big step towards the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

Braga had real hope of becoming the first Portuguese visitors to triumph at Old Trafford when Alan struck twice in the opening quarter. However, goals from Javier Hernández and Jonny Evans restored parity before the Mexican's second of the night, 15 minutes from time, secured United's third victory in Group H.

In his programme notes Sir Alex Ferguson had written of United's vulnerability in their narrow home success against Galatasaray AŞ. With defenders missing, they have leaked goals this term and relied on their forwards to save the day; so it proved again as for the sixth time since August they came from behind to win and, in the process, moved five points clear at the group summit.

José Peseiro's visitors ensured an early hush around Old Trafford by making a dream start with a goal after two minutes. Alan got in front of UEFA Champions League debutant Alexander Büttner to meet a cross from out on the left by Hugo Viana and head low past David de Gea. Büttner was playing in place of Patrice Evra while Rio Ferdinand's presence on the bench meant Michael Carrick dropped into central defence alongside Jonny Evans.

It was Carrick who was caught out when Braga doubled their lead. The makeshift centre-back was outfoxed by Éder's quick feet out on the left, the tall striker leaving Carrick in his wake before crossing low for Alan to stab the ball into the same corner of De Gea's goal.

United had their lifeline, though, when Hernández halved the deficit five minutes later. Robin van Persie's trickery on the left led to a crossing opportunity for Shinji Kagawa and he picked out Hernández at the far post. His header had too much power for Beto to keep out.

Sir Alex's half-time response was to introduce Nani in place of the injured Kagawa, a switch that gave United extra width. They now had Braga firmly on the back foot and drew level in the 62nd minute through Evans. When Van Persie's corner was flicked on by Carrick, Evans failed to connect initially but the ball deflected back his way off Alan and he stabbed in.

Beto kept out a Nani drive yet the force was now with United and Hernández, heading in a superb far-post cross by Tom Cleverley, made sure the points were theirs too.

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