Benfica 0-1 Manchester United: Mile Svilar's error puts United in control of Group A
Last Updated: 19/10/17 6:46am
Manchester United were indebted to a ludicrous error by rookie goalkeeper Mile Svilar as they beat Benfica 1-0 to take charge of Group A in the Champions League.
Svilar, 18, was making his Champions League debut and became the youngest goalkeeper in the competition's history - but had a moment to forget when he comically carried Marcus Rashford's deep free-kick over his own goal-line under no pressure.
That error was the difference between the teams in a low-quality affair, where Luisao was dismissed late on for a second yellow card and Rashford limped off late on.
It was a United performance that was efficient rather than entertaining but it leaves them with maximum points from their first three group games.
Benfica: Svilar (5), Douglas (6), Rúben Dias (6), Luisão (5), Grimaldo (6), Fejsa (5), Filipe Augusto (6), Pizzi (6), Salvio (6), Diogo Gonçalves (6), Raúl (6)
Subs: Jonas (6), Zivkovic (6), Cervi (6)
Man Utd: De Gea (7), Valencia (7), Lindelof (7), Smalling (7), Blind (6), Herrera (7), Matic (7), Mata (7), Mkhitaryan (6), Rashford (7), Lukaku (5)
Subs: Lingard (6), McTominay (6), Martial (6)
Man of the match: Marcus Rashford
United failed to test the goalkeeper until 36 minutes on the clock when Nemanja Matic's effort was palmed clear.
For a Champions League encounter, the lack of quality on show was show was alarming. Benfica rarely caused problems once they ventured into United's final third, as identified by the fact they failed to a register a shot on target over the 90 minutes.
Matic flashed over from long range after the break and Rashford twice threatened Benfica's teenage goalkeeper directly from corners as United pushed for the opener.
Rashford did catch the teenager out of position as the goalkeeper failed to stop the ball crossing the line from a free-kick that was whipped in from deep.
Four changes made by Jose Mourinho, who resisted the opportunity to rest some of his stars. Victor Lindelof, Daley Blind, Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata all returned to the starting line-up.
Luisao's second yellow card late on for a late lunge on substitute Scott McTominay summed up Benfica's night as they suffered their third straight defeat in the competition.
- Manchester United have won their opening three games of a Champions League campaign for the first time since 2012-13 under Sir Alex Ferguson.
- The Portuguese side mustered 11 shots (including blocked) in this match, but failed to land a single one on target.
- This was Jose Mourinho's first away win against a club he's previously managed in four attempts since beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge with Inter en route to winning the 2010 Champions League.
- Romelu Lukaku had the fewest touches of any outfield Manchester United player to start the game (37), while he was also restricted to just one shot for the second game running.
Man of the match - Marcus Rashford
A tough call to separate plenty of solid if unspectacular performances from the visitors. Rashford took the game to Benfica where possible with a couple of driving runs and his pin-point accuracy from set-pieces ended up winning the game, albeit the goalkeeper will be remembered for his part in the goal rather than the United forward. Rashford has now been directly involved in 10 goals in all competitions for United this season (6 goals, 4 assists) - only Romelu Lukaku has been involved in more (11 goals, 1 assist).
Mourinho's men face a trip newly promoted Huddersfield on Saturday afternoon as they look to close the gap on rivals Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.