Manchester United defeated a hard fighting and tactically organized Benfica side by two-goals-to-nothing in UEFA Champions League match played at Old Trafford. Today’s victory was United’s fourth consecutive win in this season’s Champion league competition.
Benfica were the more dominant side in the first half in spite of the goal they conceded. They attacked Manchester United in their own half and were able to penetrate the well-organized United’s defense line with their good link-up play and the ability of their strikers to run through tight channels in the opponent’s final third.
Eric Bailly, by his own high standard, had a below par performance; and was lucky not to have conceded a penalty with few of his reckless defending in his eighteen yard box.
Anthony Martial won a penalty for his side after he tried to skip through a knot of Benfica players in their eighteen yard box, and Douglas in an attempt to dispossess Martial as he dribbled into his six yard box fell to the flood and handled the ball with his hand in the process. The resultant penalty which was taken by Anthony Martial himself was saved by goalkeeper Mile Svilar.
The visitors continued their dominance of the game after the penalty kick incidence; they were tidy in their ball possession and were able to keep the play in United’s half of the pitch for a long period in the first half.
Diogo Goncalve’s curling shot from outside the penalty box was pushed out of the goalpost by the brilliant diving save by David DeGea.
Manchester United,though not as co-ordinated as the opponent, were very dangerous on the counter-attack and individual play; Anthony Martial and his replacement, Marcus Rashford, troubled the visiting team with their pace and dribbling runs from the left flank.
Benfica dominance of the mid-field was so much that supply of passes was cut off from Lukaku for so long the match; but the Belgian striker always fell to the mid-field to receive the ball and was unlucky not have scored with his header of a Martial’s cross which flew over the crossbar.
Benfica conceded an own goal in the dying minute of the first half when goalkeeper Svilar’s back pushed into his own net a Nemanja Matic’s shot that had ricocheted off the goalpost.
David DeGea brilliant goal keeping prevented Benfica from getting an equalizer on the commencement of the second half of the game, and he saved the goal-bound shots of Raul Jimenez and Diogo Goncalve.
Eric Bailly,who had been very slow in his reaction and general defending, almost allowed Benfica into the game when his careless pass at the edge of his penalty box was intercepted by Raul Jimenez, but his final effort that came in the form of a curling shot took a deflection from the goalpost and went out of play.
The visiting team was unable to breach United’s defensive structure as they search for a consolatory goal. United’s tactic of defending in numbers when under attack made the back line almost impregnable .
Marcus Rashford won Manchester United a penalty in the seventy eighth minute of the game after Andreas Samaris shoved him down as he was trying to waltz his way into the six yard box of his opponent. Daley Blind scored the resultant penalty to double his side’s lead.
With this victory,Manchester United now head their group with twelve points from four matches. They will now have to wait to earn at least a single point in their last group match to qualify for the second round of the competition.