The first half of United’s 3-1 win was possibly the most boring football we’ve played all season and when we went 1-0 down, we could hardly complain.

Then there was a power cut, the players went off the pitch, then when they returned, with the addition of Robin van Persie, turned the game around. Smalling reckons being given the chance to regroup helped.

“Yes, I think it did in a way. Especially after their goal. We knew we really had to pick ourselves up,” he said. “We had a lot of the ball but we weren’t really getting anywhere. So yes, it really helped us. It’s a massive improvement on last year. We knew that wasn’t good enough.”

Smalling hasn’t played for the first team since May but put in a good performance against Braga.

“It’s been so long and it’s been frustrating watching from the sidelines,” he said. “But it’s good to be able to come in and come back with a win as well so I’m feeling happy.”




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