Still there was little zip or threat about United’s game, with Braga comfortably protecting their lead and almost adding to it when De Gea produced a fine double save to fend away Nuno Andre Coelho’s free-kick and Micael’s follow-up. In a bid to grasp control of the game, Sir Alex introduced van Persie in place of Welbeck, and subsequently Rafael for the limping Nani.
United’s forward forays increasingly grew in promise, but all too often the final ball was comfortably caught by Beto. Perhaps through underemployment, the Braga stopper cost his side the lead with an inexplicable rush of blood with 10 minutes remaining.
Giggs’ through-ball was perfectly measured for van Persie’s run, yet Beto needlessly charged from his line to try and reach it, changed his mind and then watched on helplessly as the Dutchman bent a superb early finish into the unguarded goal.
United had levelled from nothing and against the run of play, and were incredibly ahead just four minutes later. After Chicharito’s shot had been saved by Beto, Rooney was felled by Coelho and, after consulting his assistants, referee Brych awarded the kick. Rooney duly smashed it home to put United’s travelling support into rapture.
Braga were spent and immediately looked susceptible to late counter-raids, which transpired in injury time as Chicharito was found by Rooney’s neat flick. Though he needed to fashion time and space before having a shot blocked on the line, the little Mexican slid in to put the ball into the roof of the net. A decisive victory had been wrapped up and with it comes progress to the last 16 of the Champions League, as group winners, with two games to spare.