United hit back to win group after blackout


MANCHESTER United came from a goal down to score three times in the last 10 minutes and clinch a place in the Champions League knockout stage after a floodlight failure caused chaos in Portugal.

The Premier League leaders were trailing to Alan’s 49th-minute penalty when a power cut forced both teams off the pitch for 10 minutes.

But substitute Robin van Persie’s opportunistic strike, a Wayne Rooney spot-kick and Javier Hernandez’s poacher’s effort completed a dramatic turnaround and secured top spot in Group H with two games still to play.

United’s early qualification is a welcome contrast to last year’s campaign, when they suffered a shock elimination at the group stage. Yet their prospects of reaching the last 16 so quickly did not look healthy when Jonny Evans body-checked Custodio and Alan gave goalkeeper David de Gea little chance with a powerful rising penalty.

The floodlight failure soon after gave Sir Alex Ferguson the ideal chance to reorganise and he sent on Rio Ferdinand for Evans at centre-back, before soon replacing Danny Welbeck with Van Persie.

United’s top scorer notched his third European goal of the season when Braga goalkeeper Beto came rushing out to intercept a long ball, only to change his mind and watch Van Persie bend an early shot past him. Rooney picked himself up after being felled by Nuno Coelho to convert the second, and Hernandez continued his recent hot streak by stabbing in at the second attempt in stoppage time.