Thursday, November 8, 2012

Turn the Lights Out, the Party's Over: Manchester United 3 - FC Braga 1

photo by Steve Puntervia PhotoRee

Q. Did Sir Alex rotate his line up for the Braga match?

A. And how: he sent out a team that included Antonio Valencia at right back, featured a return for long-term absentee Chris Smalling in central defense, and used Jonny Evans and Patrice Evra to round out David De Gea's defense. The midfield was a crazy quilt of several underutilized players: Nani, Anderson, Giggs, with Wazza thrown in for good measure, while upfront it was Manchester homeboy Danny Welbeck combining with the Red Devils' Player of the Month, Javier Hernandez.

Q. What did you notice about the game's first ten minutes?

A. That Wayne Rooney was playing deeper than Anderson. It was very strange....

Q. Was that the strangest thing you saw?

A. No. That would have been Ryan Giggs playing central defense while the physios were attending to a dizzy Chris Smalling.

Q. Anything else stand out in your mind during the first 45?

A. Not really. It was a fairly typical European night: cautious, cagey, real chances at a minimum and not much true goalmouth action at either end. Not vintage stuff from either side, by any means.

Q. Quiet start to the second half, as well?

A. Not after Braga buried a dubious penalty less than five minutes after the re-start.

Q. And then the lights went out for the home side?

A. Yes. Literally.

Q. Seriously?

A. Seriously.

Q. What'd Sir Alex do...?

A. You mean after the darkened dressing room bollocksing? He did what any sane man would have done: he brought on Robin Van Persie. To be fair, he also inserted Rio Ferdinand for the penalized Evans, and later asked Rafael to substitute for an injured Nani.

Q. Did bringing on RVP pay off?

A. Is the Pope Catholic?  You watch the replays and let me know your opinion.... That play was one of those truly "Oh s#!t" moments for the goalkeeper.

Q. And then?

A. And then Rooney drew a penalty, which he convincingly nailed home despite the driving rain and slippery pitch. And all of a sudden the visitors led in Portugal.

Q. Did we have the obligatory awkward looking Chicharito goal?

A. Yup. In stoppage time. While lying down on his back.

Q. Conclusions?

A. The Reds through in a downpour. Turn the lights out on Group H, boys. This Champions League Group Party is over.

This is farlieonfootie for November 8.

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