Old Trafford, England
Only once before had Manchester United won when two goals behind in the Champions League: the famous night in Turin when Roy Keane dragged them to a 3-2 victory over Juventus that led the way to the 1999 final. On 75 minutes of an evening that again did nothing to ease the heart rates of the home support Javier Hernández was the man who changed this statistic, the Mexican's head connecting with a sweeping Tom Cleverley cross from the right to give United the lead.
There were further scares for them. An 80th-minute corner from Alan, who scored both Braga's goals, skimmed over the area before the ball found a route safely into the hands of David de Gea, as United ended proceedings as they began: living dangerously.
The first half continued the thrills and spills in attack and the defensive mishaps that have been the Manchester United movie this season.
Even by their sluggish standards the start was dire. The clock showed 80 seconds as they fell behind to an Alan header after Michael Carrick – who would later be hoodwinked for the visiting captain's second – conceded a corner in the second minute. This was defended well but, when play continued and the ball broke to Hugo Viana, a swinging delivery from the left found the head of Alan, who got ahead of Alexander Büttner to give his side the lead.
This was the eighth time in 12 outings Sir Alex Ferguson's men have trailed during this campaign. Worse was to follow as a stunned United saw their deficit doubled. This time Carrick, playing as an auxiliary central defender, was the patsy in a Cruyff turn smoothly executed by Eder down the left. The striker cruised towards De Gea's goal, then rolled the ball into Alan whose finish was expert.
For each of these goals the space United allowed when turned was the issue, a problem that continued until half-time.
For the home congregation normal service was partially resumed after 25 minutes. Robin van Persie's tricky footwork moved him inside from the left. He was chopped down by Leandro Salino, the visiting right-back but the referee, Milorad Mazic, played advantage as the ball found Shinji Kagawa. After a look up he floated a cross on to Hernández's head and, though Beto parried the ball, it followed him over the line.
Van Persie followed this with a neat chest-down and swivel-then-shot, though it went wide. There were other moments when United might have drawn level: Wayne Rooney's probing down the right with Rafael da Silva went unrewarded and Büttner's mazy run into the Braga area might have won a penalty as he fell.
Hernández might have had a second when Van Persie again hurt the visitors down their right – this time his tipped attempt was saved by Beto. But a jittery rearguard that has plagued the Reds this season was again evident when a regulation clearing header from Da Silva was instead spooned behind to give Braga a corner.
With all six of the available points so far gathered Sir Alex Ferguson had been content before the visit of the Portuguese. "Given our defensive injuries we are in a stronger position in Europe than I might have expected," he told United Review. "The main aim tonight is to make sure we don't waste our advantage and get the points which almost see us through. A win would take us to nine points, just one point from my target of 10 with three games left."
While the holy grail of 10 points does not always guarantee passage in the competition as Manchester City learned last season, Rio Ferdinand, whose role in the proposed breakaway black players' union is yet to be clarified, was on the bench, with no place at all for Scott Wootton, who might have been give a full Champions League debut alongside Jonny Evans but was not included in the 18-man squad.
Ferguson had lined his side up in a diamond shape for the second time running in this group stage, with Rooney at the tip behind Van Persie and Hernández. This dynamic changed when Nani replaced Kagawa for the start of the second half, possibly due to the knock he had taken during the opening period, and Rooney moved to the left.
With Nani on the right, Ferguson's men were now operating in a more orthodox 4-4-1-1, flat across midfield. After Da Silva won a free-kick down the right for which Elderson was booked, Van Persie stung Beto's fingers with a curving attempt from the angle.
Rooney was next up, first pinging in an attempted through-ball into Van Persie's run that was blocked, then offering the collectors' item of a cross with his left foot that did find the Dutchman, though again danger was cleared.
But Braga failed to do so for Evans's equaliser. A Van Persie corner was flicked off Carrick's back and, when the Irishman's air-shot missed the ball, it rebounded off Alan and this time Evans scrambled it home.
By Jamie Jackson, The Guardian, October 24, 2012
Not since the first London Olympics, when just 22 nations took part compared to the present 204 and when much of the world was ruled from the British capital, have the country's athletes stashed away so much gold and so many medals.
Yorkshire in the north of England can claim more gold medals than Britain's archrival Australia who have won just three so far.
With five full days remaining, Britain had taken 22 golds and 47 medals from 13 sports, if track and road cycling are considered separately. Britain is third in the medals table.
"This has really turned into a golden summer for Team GB and for the whole of the UK," Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters.
Sauntering across the triathlon finish line in leafy Hyde Park, the Union Jack flag draped around his shoulders, Alistair Brownlee secured Britain's 19th gold to equal the tally from Beijing four years ago that ranked as the previous best in a century. His brother Jonathan finished third.
The immaculately turned out dressage team of Carl Hester, Laura Bechtolsheimer and Charlotte Dujardin took the total to 20 golds at the Greenwich Park equestrian arena and Laura Trott added another in the women's track cycling omnium event.
Chris Hoy then rounded off a day of triumph with the seventh Olympic medal of his career, and sixth gold, to rival the tally of compatriot, Tour de France winner and London time trial champion Bradley Wiggins.
The victory put Hoy ahead of Wiggins, who has four titles, on 'gold difference' as Britain's most decorated Olympian.
In Beijing, Britain ended up fourth overall in the medals table with 47 medals from 11 sports.
That was the country's best performance since 1908, where Britain as hosts won 56 golds and 146 medals in total, but in Beijing the tally of 19 gold was not reached until the final weekend.
"Our athletes' efforts to bring home the bling have delivered a tally not seen by any British team in over three generations," declared London Mayor Boris Johnson, exulting in the scaling of 'epic heights'.
"But it's not over yet. I join the nation in its hope that Team GB is set to deliver more sporting brilliance to come."
At least four more medals are assured in boxing, where losing semi-finalists get bronze.
British Olympic Association chief executive Andy Hunt, the Chef de Mission of 'Team GB', celebrated a "remarkable milestone".
"What has been achieved today is the result of a shared commitment made by 541 athletes, representing 26 sports, to compete as One Team GB, and to do so in a manner that would make our country proud," he said.
"It is the result of years of sacrifice and struggle, underpinned by the selfless contributions of coaches, team mates, parents, volunteers, administrators and the British public."
It was a very different story only 16 years ago. At the 1996 Atlanta Games, Britain walked away with just one solitary gold in rowing for Matthew Pinsent and Steve Redgrave, and took 15 medals in total.
In Barcelona in 1992, they managed five golds.
There were celebrations of individual successes then but nothing like the wave of jubilation sweeping the country now as one victory follows another in front of flag-waving crowds roaring their athletes on.
Newspaper front pages have reflected a growing sense of pride and patriotism, particularly after the past weekend's 'Super Saturday' when Britain celebrated its greatest single Olympic day in living memory.
"It was the greatest day in sport I have ever witnessed," said Games chairman Seb Coe, himself a double Olympic gold medallist for Britain in 1980 and 1984.
The British Olympic Association is planning a parade on open-topped buses through London on Sept. 10, after the Paralympics end, for what will be the country's most successful Olympic team of the modern era.
A spokesman said the details had yet to be finalised and they were working with the Mayor's office, Transport for London, the park authorities and various local boroughs.
The BOA was careful to avoid any precise medal target before the Games, the third to be held in London, settling instead on "more medals from more sports in more than a century."
Those include the first medals in triathlon, the first individual medal in women's gymnastics by Beth Tweddle with a bronze in asymmetric bars, and the first dressage title.
On Monday, the country's show jumpers took their first team gold in 60 years.
By Reuters and Eurosport, August 7, 2012