Manchester United get past S.L Benfica and nears to qualification to knock-out stage
Manchester United maintained their exemplary start to the UEFA Champions League with a fine 2-0 win over Benfica, courtesy of a first-half own goal from Mile Svilar and a second-half penalty by Daley Blind.
The match started in lively fashion as the two teams looked to take a stranglehold of the game in front of a boisterous Old Trafford crowd, and both sides had chances early on, with Anthony Martial and Andreas Samaris each firing high and wide.
However, United had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 15th minute when, following a superb driving run from Martial, the Frenchman was fouled by Douglas, who then handled the ball. The attack resulted in a penalty being awarded for the Reds – but unfortunately for the home fans, Martial’s spot-kick was saved by 18-year-old Svilar.
David De Gea and Svilar then traded saves, as the Spanish stopper acrobatically denied Diogo Goncalves, and the Eagles’ keeper tipped a Romelu Lukaku effort round the post on the half-hour mark.
Following Lukaku’s attempt, United went up a gear, and a period of dominance in terms of possession and territory ensued. The pressure eventually told, as in the 45th minute, Matic picked up the ball in space and lashed a low shot from 25 yards out, which struck the post and ricocheted in, off Svilar’s back.
The Reds began the second half on song, and after a finely weighted ball from Lukaku, Martial was left in space in the Benfica box but he was unable to unleash a shot.
United’s no.1 again proved crucial on the hour-mark, as De Gea tipped a fierce strike from Goncalves around the post. However, the Spaniard was left watching on shortly after, as Raul Jimenez struck the post after intercepting Eric Bailly’s wayward pass.
Birthday boy Marcus Rashford , who turned 20, entered the fray with 15 minutes left on the clock, and the striker made an immediate impact by winning United a second penalty of the match, following a mazy run into the Eagles’ box – and this time it was Daley Blind who stepped up to fire home and double the Reds’ advantage.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) October 31, 2017
With the score at 2-0 the Reds only grew in confidence until the game eventually drew to a close, with passage into the knockout rounds all but secured for Mourinho’s men after CSKA Moscow also won, 2-1 away to Basel in the night’s other Group A game.