There was a disjointed look about United’s opening, while Braga began with greater cohesion at both ends of the field. While there was no repeat of the lightning start the Portuguese side made at Old Trafford, it took just six minutes for Eder to break through the Reds' lines and drag an ambitious low effort off target.
Chicharito and Smalling both required treatment after suffering knocks to the head, and Ruben Micael almost took advantage of the latter’s absence but could only volley wastefully over from Alan’s inviting cross.
A minute later, midway through the first period, Eder thudded a diving header against the base of De Gea’s post with the half’s outstanding effort. United mustered little in response, with swift attacks undone by loose passing and more considered plays fizzling out as Braga defended in numbers.
Alan’s low shot was well held by De Gea as it skidded off the rain-slicked turf, but thereafter United largely contained the hosts in comfort. For the lack of penetration on show up top, the defensive diligence of Rooney and Giggs provided a vital shield for the Reds’ rotated backline.
Nevertheless, the arrival of half-time brought the chance for players and backroom staff to dissect a lacklustre first period. Yet, the hosts needed just three minutes of the second half in which to secure a golden opening. As United failed to clear the ball, Custodio charged into