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Wednesday 24 October 2012

Champions League: Hernandez double delights Ferguson

Mixed fortunes for Man Utd and Chelsea in Europe while Kagawa and Lampard suffer injuries

Manchester United's Javier Hernandez scores the first goal against Braga on Tuesday

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson says Javier Hernandez may have earned himself a place in the team for the crunch match with Chelsea after his impressive UEFA Champions League display against Braga.

The 24-year-old Mexico international scored in each half, either side of a Jonny Evans scrambled effort, to help his side come back from two goals down to claim a 3-2 Group H victory at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

And Ferguson admits the performance has given him a selection headache ahead of the top-of-the-table Barclays Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

"Chicharito has given me a good problem," said Ferguson. "He's got me thinking, I must say that. He and [Robin] van Persie and [Wayne] Rooney and Welbeck... I don't know what to do with them to be honest with you.

"It is difficult to put your finger on it, and it is a concern because it is making it difficult for us"
Sir Alex Ferguson

"The boy is improving all the time. He has a great enthusiasm for the game, he trains magnificently, he practices all the time and his goal ratio is fantastic.

"It was a great ball from Tom Cleverley for the second goal but Chicharito's movement in behind the defender for the second goal was terrific."

For the eighth time in 12 matches this season, United found themselves behind and Ferguson admits his side need to solve the issue with some important contests coming up.

"It's been the story of our season really at home, starting badly, conceding goals and having to fight back to rescue games. And it's the front players who are doing that for us," he added.

"I can't get to the bottom of it, I am afraid. If you analyse the goals we are losing, they have come from throw-ins, crosses, cut-backs - all sorts. And they are finding players free in the box.

"It is difficult to put your finger on it, and it is a concern because it is making it difficult for us."

United will assess the fitness of Shinji Kagawa on Wednesday after the midfielder twisted his knee during the first half at Old Trafford.

Manchester United: David de Gea; Rafael, Michael Carrick, Jonny Evans, Alexander Buttner; Shinji Kagawa (Nani 46), Tom Cleverley,  Darren Fletcher; Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez (Ryan Giggs 79), Robin van Persie.

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard is an injury doubt for the clash against Manchester United

Di Matteo targets two home wins

Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo says his defending champions must now win their remaining two home matches in Group E if they are to make it through to the knockout stages.

Di Matteo suffered his first defeat in the competition with the Blues after they lost 2-1 at in-form Shakhtar Donetsk.

Alex Teixeira put the hosts ahead early on with Fernandinho doubling the lead in the second half, while Oscar scored a late consolation for Chelsea.

Shakhtar are now in control of the group while Chelsea's hopes were helped by the failure of Juventus to defeat Nordsjaelland in Denmark.

"He was training with us fine and there were no alarm bells before the game"
Roberto Di Matteo on Frank Lampard

"Shakhtar are a very good side with a good track record at home against English teams in particular, but in general as well, and the early goal helped them," said Di Matteo.

"It is always difficult when that happens in an important game, and it unsettled us a little in the first half, we found it hard to get into our rhythm.

"I was always confident we were going to score a goal and we came out better in the second half and started to control the game a little more, but then they caught us in possession on halfway and then we were chasing two goals and the game becomes very open.

"We need to win our two home games remaining for sure and the consolation tonight is Juventus's draw in Denmark which shows the Champions League is a very competitive competition."

Chelsea have injury concerns of their own ahead of the clash against Manchester United with midfielder Frank Lampard coming off after 15 minutes with a recurrence of the calf injury that ruled him out of England's FIFA World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland.

The 34-year-old midfielder will have a scan on Wednesday, with the results revealed on Thursday.

"It's basically a recurrence of an old injury," added Di Matteo. "He was training with us fine and there were no alarm bells before the game. He was in good condition to play."

Chelsea: Petr Cech; Branislav Ivanovic, David Luiz, John Terry, Ashley Cole; Ramires, Frank Lampard (Eden Hazard 18), John Obi Mikel; Oscar, Fernando Torres (Daniel Sturridge 70), Juan Mata.

Group E results
FC Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 Chelsea
FC Nordsjaelland 1-1 Juventus

Group H results
Manchester United
3-2 SC Braga
Galatasaray 1-1 CFR Cluj

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Key Points

  • Sir Alex Ferguson praises Javier Hernandez after Man Utd's win over Braga
  • Chelsea suffer 2-1 loss against Shakhtar Donetsk
  • Shinji Kagawa and Frank Lampard injury worries ahead of Sunday's match at Stamford Bridge