UEFA Champions League Group A
Benfica vs. Manchester United
Venue: Estadio Da Luz
Date: Wednesday, 18 October 2017
Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Manchester United maintained their 100% start to this season’s Champions League campaign with a 1-0 victory away at Benfica.
Marcus Rashford’s direct free-kick was enough to separate the sides, in a bizarre moment that saw goalkeeper Mile Svilar carry the ball past his goal line from Rashford’s strike.
The Belgian, who broke Iker Casillas’ record to become the youngest goalkeeper to feature in the competition, also saw his captain Luisao sent off late on for a second bookable offence.
Benfica ran the show in the opening exchanges and Eduardo Salvio turned his shot wide from Grimaldo’s low cross after neat work down the left-hand side.
A speculative effort from Raul Jimenez flew high and wide before Rashford headed over from Daley Blind’s first time cross.
Benfica then dealt with a couple of dangerous crosses as young stopper Svilar denied Nemanja Matic with a low save via his right boot.
Juan Mata’s effort deflected wide and Henrikh Mkhitaryan sliced wide after a promising counter-attack failed to test.
Felipe Augusto was next to fire off target before half-time arrived in Portugal.
After the break, Ander Herrera’s first time attempt untroubled as did Diogo Goncalves at the other end.
Allowing the ball to run across his body from Mkhitaryan’s quick throw, Rashford’s volley was safely held by 18-year-old Svilar.
Against his former club, Matic drove an effort just over from range as two Rashford corners had to be palmed then punched clear by Svilar.
Always looking to test the young goalkeeper, Rashford’s deep free-kick led to the only goal as Svilar carried the ball over the line despite catching the dead ball.
Substitute Anthony Martial’s mazy run saw the Frenchman dribble past Douglas and force a save from Svilar as the visitors looked to double their lead.
Centre-back Ruben Dias, sporting a bandage after his first half head cut, volleyed over from Franco Cervi’s corner, the latter fresh from the bench and his first involvement.
In stoppage time, Luisao took down Scott McTominay who’d only just arrived onto the scene, and the Benfica skipper received a second yellow card and was subsequently sent off.
The resulting free-kick by Romelu Lukaku struck the wall before full-time brought to an end a largely comfortable evening for United.
Jose Mourinho’s side managed the situation well despite a bright opening by Benfica, with Rashford limping off the only downside to the occasion.
Up next is a trip to Huddersfield as United face the Terriers for the first time in 46 years.
That 3pm kick-off this Saturday will be another big test on the back of this travel and what is sure to be a raucous atmosphere in Yorkshire.
Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Lindelof, Smalling, Blind; Herrera, Matic; Mata (Lingard 83), Mkhitaryan (McTominay 90+1), Rashford (Martial 76); Lukaku.
Subs not used: Romero, Jones, Darmian, Young.
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Benfica: Svilar; Douglas, Luisao, Dias, Grimaldo; Fejsa, Augusto, Pizzi (Zivkovic 59); Silvio (Cervi 83), Jimenez, Goncalves (Jonas 69).
Subs not used: Julio Cesar, Lopez, Samaris, Seferovic.
Manager: Rui Vitoria