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 the area and crashed into Evans. A probable obstruction had it occurred outside the area, yet referee Felix Brych deemed the offence sufficient to award a penalty.
Following on from his brace at Old Trafford, skipper Alan comfortably roofed his kick from 12 yards to send the Estadio Axa wild. Shortly afterwards, the pitch was plunged into darkness as floodlight failure caused a 10-minute delay in play. When the game resumed, Rio Ferdinand was immediately introduced in place of Evans.
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