I had so many potential titles for this post:

More than Cats and Dogs – in reference to the rain coming down in Braga that made a rainy day in Manchester look like a lovely sunny CA day.

I think he didn’t want to score – in reference to Chicharito spurning a chance to shoot first time on an almost empty net, lose the ball, and then somehow manage to still score, with his left leg, from the ground.

Roontastic – in reference to Wayne Rooney’s fantastic performance.  For nearly the full 90 minutes he was Scholes incarnate.

Nothing Small about it – in reference to the great shift Chris Smalling put in for United today.  It’s great to have him back.

Rob + Rob + Rob – in reference to Robin Van Persie coming off the bench and providing the inspiration, and a brilliant goal, that drove United on to Victory; and Robbie Keane scoring two goals in the Los Angeles Galaxy’s victory over the San Jose Earthquakes.

Standing Room Only – in reference to the fact that I was standing the entire 90 minutes of the Galaxy and San Jose match.  I watched the game at home.  I wanted to sit down… but I couldn’t.

I believed – in reference to the tweet I sent out after the Galaxy’s Western Conference Semi-Final first round loss, at home, to the Earthquakes.  It was only one goal.  I knew we had the quality to come back and advance.

Take it to the corners! – in reference to the Galaxy inexplicably continuing to try and score goal after goal after goal in the closing minutes of the game when they should have been doing their best just to keep possession and kill off the clock.

I Love Celtic – in reference to Celtic beating Barcelona today.  That’s.  Just.  Amazing.  I don’t think I need to say anything beyond that.

And I settled with “perfect” because all of my teams got the results I wanted them to get today.  Manchester United stayed perfect in Europe, clinching top spot in their group and advancement to the next round at the same time.  The Galaxy advance to the Western Conference finals.  Barcelona lost.

Today was perfect.

I just love this game!

3 points the (extra) hard way

As the game started I found myself thinking, “We are going to give up an early goal…”

And for the 8th time this season (in 12 matches) we did.  90 seconds into yesterday’s Champions League group stage contest between Manchester United (England) and Braga (Portugal), the Red Devils’ defense was caught flat (again) and Braga took the lead.  This left United needing to get the 3 points the hard way.

But their play didn’t immediately improve.  Within 20 minutes Braga had scored again and the Red Devils found themselves two goals down; needing to get the 3 points the extra hard way.

As has been the case so far this season the offense came to the rescue of the defense (good interplay between Rooney and Van Persie and Kagawa) and a lucky goal by Chicharito and we were back in the game.  It’s not entirely fair to say that it was a lucky goal: Hernandez got into a good position, it was a fantastic cross, and the striker rose well to meet it and head it back across the frame.  But it was lucky because it went in off the body of the keeper who had done well to cover the space.

Then (another) lucky goal, this time from Johnny Evans, and the Red Devils were back on level terms.  Again it was a fantastic cross into a dangerous area and our defender found himself in a good position but a swing and a miss later and the chance seemed to have been lost.  A luck bounce of a Braga player found the ball back at Evans’ feet who had the presence of mind to prod it towards goal where the goal keeper saw it late and had no chance of stopping it from crossing the line.

Finally, the winner, was a deserved goal.  Another brilliant cross and Chicharito was on cue again to head it powerfully past the outstretched reach of Braga’s keeper.  It was the goal the Red Devil’s deserved based on their possession and attacking threat the entire second half of the game.

So, 3 points in the bag and 9 points out of 3 games so far in this year’s Champions League; leaving United in prime position.  That’s fantastic.  But questions are being asked of our defense, by an admittedly weak group, and so far we don’t seem to have the answers other than starting 3 strikers and hoping they can keep on form…

Will that continue to work in the remaining group stage games?  Will that work when we face stiffer competition in the knockout rounds?