Manchester United became the first British side through to this season’s Champions League knockout stage after coming from behind to beat Group H rivals SC Braga 3-1 on Wednesday.
Needing just a point to assure their qualification to the last 16, United fell behind to a penalty from Alan just after halftime, but strikes from Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez ensured the Red Devils maintained their perfect record in this year’s competition.
United lead the group on 12 points after four matches, while defeat for Braga leaves them bottom on three points, one behind both Galatasaray and CFR Cluj, following the Turkish champions’ 3-1 win in Romania.
Alex Ferguson elected to make six changes to the side that defeated Arsenal at the weekend, with Chris Smalling making his first start of the campaign after recovering from a metatarsal injury suffered during pre-season, while Van Persie was only named among the substitutes.
Jonny Evans was one of five holdovers from Saturday’s victory over the Gunners, but his misjudgement of Douglao’s over-hit pass allowed Eder an early chance, the striker sneaking in behind the defense, only to see his low strike flash across the face of goal.
More hesistant defending, this time from Smalling, then enabled Ruben Micael to run at United’s backline and fire just wide from the edge of the box.
With the English giants very much on the back foot, Braga were unfortunate not to take the lead midway through the first half as Eder’s diving header cannoned back off the foot of the post.
However, United’s resistance was broken four minutes after halftime as Braga were awarded a penalty after Evans blocked off Custodio just inside the box.
Alan stepped up and duly converted for his fourth goal of the group phase.
However, the game was interrupted only a few minutes later when a generator broke down, leaving the stadium shrouded in darkness and the players ordered back to the changing rooms.
Play resumed roughly 10 minutes later.
Braga had been relatively untroubled for most of the evening, but the introduction of Van Persie for Danny Welbeck proved to be a tactical masterstroke from Ferguson.
The Dutchman capitalized on a rash decision from Beto as he rushed off his line only to be left stranded as Van Persie clipped the ball over the Braga goalkeeper to draw United level with 10 minutes remaining.
The visitors then went ahead after Rooney slotted home from the spot after the England striker was felled by Coelho.
A late third from Hernandez completed United’s turnaround.
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two
‘GREAT COMPETITOR’: Former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza was tested by American teenager Coco Gauff, before the Spaniard advanced in three sets Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Thursday cruised into the quarter-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia by handing their Japanese opponents a rare “double bagel,” a feat matched by US Open losing finalist Victoria Azarenka in the women’s singles. Top seeds Hsieh and Strycova took just 49 minutes to see off the challenge of Japanese duo Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya 6-0, 6-0 on the clay courts at the Foro Italico in Rome. The Taiwanese-Czech duo saved both break points they faced and converted six of 14, winning 62 percent of their first