Manchester United came from 2-0 down to beat Braga 3-2 at home on Tuesday and go five points clear in Group H of the Champions League.
Alan scored in the second minute of the match at Old Trafford and again 18 minutes later to rock United but Javier Hernandez’s double, either side of a Jonny Evans equaliser, rescued all three points.
With Rio Ferdinand rested, Michael Carrick started at centre-back and the makeshift nature of the defence showed when Alan rose to head home from Hugo Viana’s cross.
The visitors had arrived fearless and they doubled their lead on 20 minutes.
Eder beat Carrick on the left touchline and darted inside to cut a pass back into the box, where Alan stabbed home for his second.
Braga’s two-goal cushion lasted all of five minutes and it was thanks to a smart piece of refereeing that United were able to respond.
Serbian official Milorad Mazic indicated an advantage when Robin van Persie was fouled on the left flank but Shinji Kagawa picked up the loose ball and dinked in a cross for Hernandez, onside at the far post to head it into the net.
Both teams pushed forward, Van Persie firing wide with his right foot at one end before Alan nearly exploited more uneasy defending by volleying just past the post.
Kagawa’s movement saw him break beyond the back line but, just as he rolled it to the unmarked Hernandez, the Japan international was harshly flagged for offside.
Needing to seize control of an open contest after half-time, United had to replace the injured Kagawa with Nani, but found penetration hard to come by as the Braga rearguard held their own.
The crucial breakthrough ultimately came from a poorly cleared corner, which fell to Evans.
The defender scuffed his first attempt but it bobbled back to him and a scruffy finish was enough to beat Braga goalkeeper Beto and make it 2-2.
Buoyed, United pushed on and, after setting Nani up for a saved stinger, the excellent Hernandez got further reward for a superb performance, the Mexico international powerfully heading home from a pin-point delivery by Tom Cleverley.
Braga had looked deflated ever since Evans’ equaliser and never really threatened to get back into the contest, even when David de Gea’s risky pass to Cleverley threatened to let the visitors back into it.
Ruben Amorim’s first touch deserted him, however, and the opportunity fell flat.
Also on Tuesday, Galatasaray collected their first point of the group stage with a 1-1 draw at home to CFR Cluj.
A Dany Nounkeu own-goal gave the Romanian visitors the lead in the 20th minute, but they lost Matias Aguirregaray to a red card eight minutes later.
Felipe Melo could have levelled the scores but missed a penalty for Galatasaray on 35 minutes, and the hosts had to rely on a 77th-minute equaliser from Burak Yilmaz to claim a share of the spoils.
United lead Group H on nine points, five ahead of Cluj, who are second on four points.
Braga sit a point further back in the third, with Galatasaray bottom, having recorded a draw and two defeats from their three matches played.