Champions League: Rating Manchester United Players in 3-1 Win vs Braga
Manchester United's 3-1 Champions League victory over Braga may have flattered Sir Alex Ferguson's side.
The Portuguese outfit dominated large portions of the game. In the end, United's firepower came to prominence and secured a vital three points. The Premier League side have won the group with two games to spare, ensuring their path into the knockout stages.
How did each individual play? Let's take a look:
David De Gea: 7/10
A solid display from the Spaniard. He was equal to any chance Braga created from open play.
Perhaps a tad fortunate to see Alan's header saved by the post in the opening 45 minutes, but may have had the effort covered if it was goal-bound.
Played a poor long pass that led to the penalty. Could have faced Alan's spot-kick 100 times and wouldn't have saved it. Other than that, a couple of decent saves kept United in the game at 1-0.
Patrice Evra: 7/10
A quietly effective display from the captain. Prioritised his defensive duties over bombing up the wing. Provided two tackles, two interceptions and six clearances—more than any other player.
Evra was wary of the Braga threat and didn't put his team under any unnecessary pressure by needlessly leaving space open.
Jonny Evans: 4/10
Needed to take responsibility alongside Chris Smalling.
Struggled against the pace of Braga's attack. The home side's willingness to get forward put both centrebacks under pressure.
The Northern Irishman failed to make a successful tackle before he was hauled off 57 minutes in. Evans was slightly unlucky to concede the penalty with a bodycheck, although he was living dangerously by dangling a leg out.
Chris Smalling: 5/10
A mixed return for the United youngster. Definitely lacking a yard of pace and was unlucky to take an early bash to the head.
Smalling used his body well in difficult areas, blocking two shots that could have tested De Gea.
Looked far more comfortable when Rio Ferdinand entered proceedings. The 22-year-old enjoyed 100 percent pass accuracy in the first half and 98 percent across the entire game. Made an excellent defensive header with 10 minutes left.
A useful fitness boost for the former Fulham player.
Antonio Valencia: 8/10
Sir Alex Ferguson will be pleased with Valencia's display. The Ecuadorian filled in at right back for the most part and actually looked like the away team's most potent threat until late in the second half.
Naturally got forward whenever possible. Valencia contributed six successful dribbles—no other player managed more than one. Nani's inability on the right flank put Valencia under more pressure until the Portuguese international was taken off.
Rafael headed onto the pitch, allowing Valencia to take up his preferred position on the wing. Continued to attack well and provided Danny Welbeck with an opportunity. Valencia's hard work paid off when his excellent ball resulted in United's third goal.
Ryan Giggs: 7/10
A typically astute showing from the United veteran. Looked sharp in midfield for the most part, although his lack of speed was often apparent against an energetic Braga side.
The Welshman went about his work carefully and contributed across all areas. Giggs made one tackle, clearance and interception, as well as providing three key passes. A couple of laser-guided balls stretched the opposition in the latter stages.
The Brazilian tried too hard throughout. He completed just 76 percent of his passes and failed to make a tackle, interception or clearance in the first 45 minutes.
Improved slightly as the second half progressed.
This wasn't the performance Anderson wanted to give tonight. He is challenging for a regular first team place, but may have done his chances a little harm with a display that didn't reach his recent standards.
Sir Alex Ferguson berated the winger for costing United the recent Capital One Cup clash against Chelsea. Unfortunately for Nani, he once again failed to build upon criticism.
Totally anonymous throughout his 73 minutes on the pitch. Began drifting infield after Braga scored, leaving Valencia even more exposed than before. Completed just one dribble and was easily dispossessed three times.
Nani's passing also put his team under pressure. Allowed the opposition to counter attack on multiple occasions by needlessly surrendering possession.
Wayne Rooney: 8/10
Was poor in the opening 45 minutes. The Englishman played some sloppy passes and showed a heavy touch before getting his act together.
Took United by the scruff of the neck in the second half.
Broke up play in vital areas by putting his body on the line. Won and converted the vital penalty, getting over his missed effort against Arsenal. Did exceptionally well to delicately flick the ball towards Hernandez for the final goal.
Decent character from Rooney tonight.
Danny Welbeck: 3/10
Had very little impact on the game. Didn't provide any attacking threat and often moved away from the ball.
Welbeck's only moment of note came when he handled Valencia's cross in the Braga area. His positioning was obvious and movement laboured. Rightfully substituted in 64th minute.
Javier Hernandez: 6/10
You could have been mistaken for thinking Hernandez wasn't on the pitch. Fed on scraps when United struggled, providing just eight passes in the first half—one more than De Gea.
Continued to search for useful positions when Robin van Persie came on. Was almost too cheeky before bundling in the third goal.
Rio Ferdinand: 8/10
The experienced defender was excellent when he came on. He made one interception, three clearances and racked up 100 percent pass accuracy across 35 minutes of play.
Shored up the defence with a calmness that was previously lacking. Sir Alex couldn't have asked for more.
Robin van Persie: 7/10
Entered the game in the 64th minute. Took advantage of the only shooting position he was afforded. Otherwise pretty quiet.
Managed to play a number of sloppy passes in 17 minutes. The Brazilian's presence allowed Valencia to shine. Did well to cut out a couple of teasing passes.
All statistics in this article are courtesy of Whoscored.
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