Manchester United were able to fight back from 2-0 down to beat Sporting Braga 3-2 in this evening’s Champions League tie at Old Trafford.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have now conceded the opening goal in 8 of their 12 games in all competitions this season. Showing their capability of battling back, Manchester United have won 6 of those games. The other results were a 1-0 loss at Everton and 3-2 at home to Tottenham, both in the Premier League.
Alan gave the Portuguese side a 1-0 lead inside 2 minutes with the move coming from a poorly defended throw-in and then cross from former Newcastle United man Hugo Viana.
Of course this lead to tasty odds on Manchester United. Evens to be precise. The big bet became nervous on 20 minutes when poor defending from the English side allowed Alan to tuck home his second goal of the game. A surprise on the cards?
Manchester United then started to play. Taking the game to the visitors, a lucky break of the ball fell to Shinji Kagawa on the corner of the box and his back post cross was headed home by the unmarked Javier Hernandez. The Japanese playmaker was wrongly flagged for offside later in the first half for what would have been 2-2.
The home side pressed but could not find an equaliser before half time. Sir Alex Ferguson replaced Kagawa with Nani at half time and I took United at 2/1 to win the game from there. They started the second half by pinning Braga back into their own half and it always looked like an equaliser was coming despite the lack of attempts on goal.
There was a lot of fortune about the equaliser, from centre back Jonny Evans when the ball fell kindly for him inside the six yard box from a corner. The Northern Irish centre back poked home his second goal of the season on 62 minutes.
I felt the game went a bit flat for the next 5 or so minutes. As was the atmosphere. Manchester United allowed Braga onto them a bit after the equaliser but were able to create a chance on the counter attack. Nani’s shot a perfect height for goalkeeper Beto to palm past his near post and out for a corner.
The winner came in the 75th minute. Another header from Javier Hernandez. This time from Tom Cleverley. Victory wasn’t quite sewn up as David de Gea’s ridiculous pass setup a chance in the final 8 minutes but Braga failed to get an effort on goal right away and the opportunity went.
Victory this evening means Manchester United have collected a maximum 9 points from their first 3 Champions League group games – 5 points ahead of CFR Cluj and 6 ahead of Braga.
Manchester United can continue to celebrate these come-from-behind victories but they are not going to last forever. Tottenham have already shown that. The amount of goals they are conceding early in games will catch up on them if they do not fix it. Fixing it is easier said than done with Nemanja Vidic, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling all sidelined.
With the defence playing the way they are currently puts a lot of pressure on the centre of midfield and their attacking unit for their trip to the Premier League leaders Chelsea. Fernando Torres may be out of form, but Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar are looked sharp at the weekend.
A positive for Manchester United heading into Sunday’s game is that Chelsea have allowed 49 shots on goal in their last two games combined, conceding 2 goals in each, including this evening’s defeat in Ukraine at the hands of Shakhtar Donetsk.
With two vulnerable defences and the league’s two top scoring sides, please can we have a shoot out on Sunday?