Relieved Jonny Evans was 'devastated' just before goal for Manchester United against Braga

 

Jonny Evans thought he had blown his chance of extending his Manchester United goalscoring streak at Old Trafford last night.

After taking 119 matches to net his first United goal against Wolves last season, the Northern Ireland defender was not expecting to get another in any great hurry.

However, he scored at Newcastle just before the international break and in grabbing the second in United's 3-2 Champions League win over Braga, Evans has now scored two in three games, a better return over the same period than Robin van Persie.

Yet, instead of the plaudits, Evans came close to taking the brickbats.

For when Van Persie's second-half corner was flicked on by Michael Carrick, despite the ball dropping perfectly for the 25-year-old, he could only take a fresh air swipe at it.

Only after Braga made a hash of trying to clear it did the opportunity come back a second time. And even then Evans could not be certain whether he got the final touch.

"I was devastated when I miskicked it but I turned around and managed to get a bit of a toe on it," he said.

"I didn't know how it went in and thought it might have been an own goal or something but I've come in, seen it back on TV and know I got a touch on it."

It could have been three successive games but for another failed opportunity against Stoke.

Still, Evans is now nudging his way up the United scoring charts, overtaking fellow defenders Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, who are both due back after injury in a fortnight.

Their combined rivalry is a secondary issue though at the side of stopping the repeated problem of conceding the first goal.

It happened again last night - the eighth time in 12 matches - the only difference on this occasion being United conceded another before mounting their thrilling fightback.

Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted he does not know exactly what to do about it, which leaves Evans with little hope of finding a solution.

"It's happened quite a lot," he said.

"It is becoming a bit of a habit but it's something we have to eradicate as we don't want to give ourselves that kind of deficit at the start of games.

"We need to get better starts in the future."

Victory in the return with Braga in a fortnight would secure United's passage into the knockout stages with two games to spare.

Even a draw should be enough barring a bizarre sequence of results that would require Galatasaray beat Cluj in Romania and both sides then winning their final two games.

It would represent a big improvement on last term's disastrous group stage exit, and also allow Ferguson the opportunity to rest key players for important Premier League games.

Yet everyone at United is aware such a position would be irrelevant should they not scoop an adequate return from the Premier League fixtures against Chelsea and Arsenal, which are now the most pressing issue.

Already four points adrift of Roberto Di Matteo's side, defeat for the Red Devils is out of the question.

Although they did emerge victorious in a Champions League quarter-final two seasons ago, United have not managed a league triumph at Stamford Bridge since 2002.

And for all the disappointment at Chelsea's surprise defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk last night, Evans knows nothing will come easily to the Old Trafford outfit.

"We have had some great battles with them down the years, but they have changed quite a lot very quickly," said Evans.

"You can see that from the way they have been scoring their goals this season.

"They scored four again at the weekend so it's going to be a tough game and our record down there has not been great over the last few seasons, so that makes it a bit harder still."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future