United's victory in Braga was built more on grit than guile, but there were still a handful of outstanding contributions within the Reds' ranks.
In his first outing since the end of last season, Chris Smalling turned in an assured performance at the heart of the United defence, overcoming an early blow to the head, the sodden conditions and the brute force of Eder to stand out in the visitors' backline.
On the occasions Braga managed to force their way through, their efforts in open play were all repelled by David De Gea, who celebrated his 22nd birthday with a typically unflustered yet defiant outing in goal.
Further forward, Ryan Giggs once again brought the nous and savvy to a tricky occasion. The veteran's know-how was there for all to see in a composed display largely spent deep inside his own half.
Giggs was often joined in deeper areas by Wayne Rooney, whose string-pulling and tempo-setting also stood out. Coming so soon after his penalty miss against Arsenal, the England star showed remarkable guts to take another spot-kick in such treacherous conditions.
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