Javier Hernandez scored twice to rescue Manchester United as the Group H leaders stormed back from two goals down to defeat Braga 3-2 on Tuesday and move to the brink of reaching the Champions League knockout stage.
Braga had stunned their illustrious opponents with two goals in the first 20 minutes at Old Trafford. Brazilian Alan headed home inside 90 seconds and the Portuguese side crafted a second as Alan again slotted past David De Gea after fine work by Eder.
United’s Mexico striker Hernandez quickly replied from Shinji Kagawa’s cross, Jonny Evans equalised from close range in the 62nd and Hernandez headed the winner 15 minutes from time.
United, who have lost only one of their last 37 Champions League home games, have nine points from three matches. CFR Cluj are on four after a 1-1 draw at Galatasaray, Braga have three and the Turkish side are bottome with one.
United manager Alex Ferguson rested defenders Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra with Sunday’s Premier League clash at Chelsea in mind and was probably quickly ruing that decision.
Braga, who bounced back from an opening home defeat by CFR Cluj to win at Galatasary in their last Champions League game, began in confident style, as befitting a team who had not lost on their last seven European away games.
Ferguson had barely settled into his seat when Hugo Viana whipped over a cross from the left and Alan got in front of Alexander Buttner, playing in place of Evra, to head into the bottom corner.
United then found themselves 2-0 down. The second goal was again crafted on the left flank, Eder leaving Michael Carrick on his toes and picking out Alan who shot first time past De Gea.
Ferguson, as he had against Cluj, deployed Wayne Rooney at the tip of a midfield diamond with Robin Van Persie and Hernandez up front and it was the latter who gave United hope.
Serbian referee Milorad Mazic allowed play to continue after a foul on Van Persie and Kagawa took advantage to pick out the Mexican to head past a diving Beto.
United pushed forward with intent after the break and drew level just past the hour when a corner was flicked on and Evans hooked in at the second attempt after initially mis-kicking.
Beto kept Braga on level terms when he beat away a stinging Nani drive but his goal was breached for a third time after 75 minutes as an unmarked Hernandez ghosted in to meet Tom Cleverley’s delightful cross from the right. DM
Photo: Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez celebrates his second goal against Braga during their Champions League Group H soccer match at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England, October 23, 2012. REUTERS/Phil Noble
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