Man Utd 2-0 Benfica: Jose Mourinho's side edge closer to Champions League last 16
By Gerard Brand
Last Updated: 01/11/17 8:16am
Manchester United edged closer to the Champions League last 16 with a 2-0 win over Benfica at Old Trafford on Tuesday night.
United needed to better CSKA Moscow's result to qualify, but the Russian side's 2-1 win in Basel means Jose Mourinho's side still need a point in their last two Group A games to make the last 16.
Mile Svilar, the 18-year-old goalkeeper criticised in the first game a fortnight ago for a mistake in United's 1-0 win, saved an Anthony Martial penalty (15) and then scored an unfortunate own goal as Nemanja Matic's effort ricocheted off the post and then off his back before crossing the line (45).
Man Utd: De Gea (7), Darmian (6), Bailly (5), Smalling (6), Blind (6), Matic (6), McTominay (7), Mata (6), Lingard (6), Martial (8), Lukaku (6)
Subs: Herrera (6), Mkhitaryan (6), Rashford (7)
Benfica: Svilar (6), Douglas (5), Ruben Dias (6), Jardel (6), Grimaldo (6), Fejsa (6), Filipe Augusto (5), Pizzi (5), Salvio (6), Diogo Goncalves (6), Jimenez (6)
Subs: Jonas (5), Seferovic (5), Eliseu (5)
Man of the match: Antony Martial
Benfica pushed for an equaliser in the second half, hitting the post through Raul Jimenez, but United wrapped up the win through Daley Blind's penalty (78) after Marcus Rashford had been brought down.
United were awarded a penalty after 14 minutes as Douglas handled following a challenge with Martial, but the Frenchman's spot-kick was saved superbly by Svilar down to his right.
At the other end, David de Gea made a fingertip save from Ruben Dias' 25-yard piledriver, before United took the lead in bizarre circumstances.
Jose Mourinho made six changes from the side that beat Tottenham; Darmian for Valencia, Blind for Jones, McTominay for Herrera, Mata for Young, Lingard for Mkhitaryan, Martial for Rashford. McTominay made only his second Man Utd start, and his first in the Champions League, while Luke Shaw was on the bench.
Matic drove forward with the ball, before seeing his low, 25-yard effort come off the post, hit young Svilar unknowingly, and then drop over the line.
He then kept out Romelu Lukaku after the Belgian had raced through one-on-one, but Benfica had the better of the initial stages in the second half, hitting the post through Jimenez's poked effort after Eric Bailly's loose pass to Chris Smalling allowed him through on goal.
Rashford's first contribution as a sub was to win a penalty from Samaris after a positive run into the Benfica area. Blind drilled the ball down the middle, but only after both Romelu Lukaku and then Ander Herrera had initially took over the ball to take the spot-kick. Lukaku has now gone six games without a United goal.
It ended 2-0, meaning United have won all eight games at home in all competitions this season, conceding just one goal, and haven't lost at Old Trafford since last September.
- Mourinho has never lost in his 12 home games against sides he's previously managed, winning the last 11 in a row.
- United are now unbeaten in 37 home games in all competitions (W26 D11) - only once in the Premier League era have they had a longer such run (38 between December 1998 and April 2000).
- After becoming the youngest ever keeper to save a Champions League penalty (18y 65d), Mile Svilar then became the youngest ever player to score an own goal in the competition.
Man of the match - Anthony Martial
The Frenchman's direct approach can go one of two ways. On Tuesday night, particularly in the first half, the 21-year-old's bursting runs at the heart of Benfica's backline were almost impossible to deal with, resulting in the penalty from which he failed to open the scoring.
He did lose the ball several times in the second half in good positions, but if it works one time and not the other, his contribution is more than worth it for Mourinho.
Jose Mourinho: "I'm paid to take decisions, good or bad. In the first half the decision was bad, because the player that I chose to take the penalty missed. In the second half I made another decision, and I don't see the drama, because there is no drama. The penalty taker for this match was Martial. He took in the first half and missed, he was not even on the pitch for the second penalty, and then I have to make a decision.
"Romelu wants to take, has the personality to take the responsibility, Herrera the same, but my decision, based on what we did in training in the past couple of days, was Blind. The players respected my decision, and that's it, end of story."
United go to Chelsea on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League at 4.30pm, and need just a point against either Basel away (November 22) or CSKA at home (December 5) to reach the last 16.