Benfica v Manchester United: Champions League –as it happened

  • Goalkeeping blunder gifts victory to United
  • Mourinho’s team top of their group with maximum points

Full-time: Benfica 0-1 United

Job done for United thanks to preposterous goal, scored by Rashford with the aid of a sad misjudgement by Benfica’s 18-year-old goalkeeper, Mile Svilar. That was a suitably pitiful way to decide a dreary contest. At the final whistle, Lukaku spends several moments encouraging the young goalkeeper, who is a compatriot of his and perhaps could still go on to be a team-mate in the senior national team. If he does, he’ll remember Lukaku’s kindness. That’s classy from the big man.

Svilar reacts at the final whistle.
Svilar reacts at the final whistle. Photograph: Patricia de Melo Moreira/AFP/Getty Images

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90+3 min: Lukaku bangs his freekick into the wall, laying out Augusto in the process.

RED CARD! Luisao cops a second booking for lunging at McTominay after the youngster pounced on a ball that squirted out to him after Luisao had dispossessed Lukaku. So there’s another Champions League debutant who’s made a big impact today.

Luisao fouls McTominay leading to a second yellow and red.
Luisao fouls McTominay leading to a second yellow and red. Photograph: Carl Recine/Action Images via Reuters

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United substitution: McTominay on, Mkhitaryan off.

90 min: There will be four more minutes, at least. It may feel like six years.

89 min: Benfica win another corner, this time after a preposterous shank by Blind. The corner comes to nothing.

88 min: Douglas misjudges a long clearance by United following a corner by Benfica. For a moment it looks like Martial is in. but Luisao tidies up smartly.

87 min: Smalling heads Cervi’s corner away at the near post. Smalling has been good today. Rashford and Matic have also been strong.

84 min: Cervi’s first contribution is to win a corner. United are slack in defending it, so Dias gets a clear shot on from eight yards, in line with the front post. It’s an awkward shot, though, as he was jumping as if preparing to head it and ended up having to essay a sidefooted volley. It goes a couple of yards wide.

Benfica substitution: Cervi on, Salvio off

83 min: Augusto tries a shot from 25 yards - which is about the distance that all of Benfica’s shots have come from today. It takes a deflection and balloons high into the air before dropping into the arms of De Gea.

81 min: United are strangling this game now.

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78 min: Luisao and Svilar spent several moments in conversation while Rashford was being replaced. Perhaps they were discussing a previous exchange, ie the one that Joseph Shinners says took place before the goal: “Luisao and ther defenders were telling Svilar to come out further before the kick was taken - he’s not fully to blame.”

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77 min: Rashford has hobbled off. It’s not clear what the problem is but he definitely picked up an injury of some sort. Mourinho consults with him on the sideline and, if the expression on the managers face is anything to go by, neither man feels the injury is long-term one. On trots Martial in Rashford’s place.

76 min: Benfica don’t look good enough to get back into this. And De Gea certainly isn’t going to offer them the sort of present that United have been given.

75 min: A minor scare in the United box after Zivkovic and Jonas combine. But it was all bit rushed, so much so that Jonas fell over as he tried to shoot.

72 min: In the other match in this group, by the way, Basel area leading 1-0 at CSKA Moscow.

Benfica substitution: Jonas on, Goncalves off.

GOAL! Benfica 0-1 United (Rashford 65)

Oh dear. That’s a nightmare for the young goalkeeper. In fairness to another youngster, Rashford exploited Svilar’s naivety well: having noticed that the keeper had got lost under the last few corners, the United player floated an in-swinging freekick towards the net ... and Svilar backpedalled so far that he didn’t catch it until it had already crossed the line. That’s a severe lesson for the 18-year-old.

Svilar carries the ball over the line from Rashford’s shot.
Svilar carries the ball over the line from Rashford’s shot. Photograph: Kieran McManus/BPI/REX/Shutterstock

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63 min: It’s scrappy. “If Benfica win this (I actually find the game fascinating) will Liverpool get the blame?” wonders Ian Copestake. Well, you have to admit that Henderson, Can and Wijnaldum are really strong...

62 min: Rashford’s in-swinging corner from the left almost swings directly into the net! Svilar punches it over the bar - just about - when he could have got it.

60 min: Excellent cross-field ball by Rashford to Mata. But Mata’s attempt to pick out Lukaku in the middle is sadly inaccurate.

Benfica substitution: Zivkovic on, Pizzi off.

57 min: Rashford has been good in this half so far. His smart runs are making midfields’ decisions easy. And when he gets the ball. he makes shrewd use of it. He has just teed up Lukaku at the edge of the box. ut Lukaku let the ball run away from him as he tried to dribble around a defender. His touch has been unusually clunky so far.

55 min: Now it’s Blind’s turn to abort a counter-attack with a brazen foul. He, too, escapes a booking.

54 min: Smalling gets a commanding header to an in-swinging freekick. Good thing, too, because Luisao was poised to nod in from close range. Rashford leads a counter-attack but is chopped down by Goncalvez, who somehow escapes a booking.

52 min: According to reports, Algeria have just appointed Rabah Madjer as their new manager. Now there’s a man who knows how to light up a big night of European competition, as Benfica fans will no doubt be happy to remember ...

51 min: From a throw-in on the left, Rashford rolls his marker and the ball sits up nicely for him, inviting him to have a crack. He does so, from 25 yards. Svilar makes a comfortable save.

50 min: Jimenez slips a pass through to Salvio, who’s got behind Blind down the left. He curls a low pass towards Goncalves at the far post. but Lindelof cuts it out.

48 min: Blind sends one into the channel for Rashford to chase. Rashford gets to it and picks out a mature pass to Mkhitaryan at the edge of the area. The Armenian rolls the ball into the path of Herrera, who hits it on the run from about 25 yards. And it goes wide by about the same. The standard of shoots has been obnoxiously bad so far.

46 min: The “action” resumes.

“It’s a bright sunny day here in Philadelphia and my neighbour Dave is having his house painted,” wows Justin Kavanagh. “I’m torn now between watching the second half of this dross or the relative spectacle of going outside and seeing the paint dry on his walls.” You should go outside and help him: that would make Mourinho a kind of Tom Sawyer of our times.

Half-time: Benfica 0-0 United

The scoreline is a fair reflection of the match so far. Neither side deserve to be in front. Svilar, Benfica’s 18-year-old European debutant of a goalkeeper, has barely been tested. Nether has De Gea. Champions League, you’re having a laugh.

44 min: Augusto has a shot from 35 yards. Oh dear. That should be shot with an ‘i’.

42 min: United spring forward on a counter-attack. Lukaku makes a decoy run. Mkhitaryan carries the ball into the box and the lets fly with a shot from 16 yards ... but he shanks it horribly.

41 min: Herrera clears Grimaldo’s poor freekick.

40 min: Valencia booked for handing off Jimenez, giving Benfica a freekick in a dangerous crossing position on the right.

38 min: Grimaldo blocks a cross by Mkitharyan, conceding a corner. Mata takes it short to Mkhitaryan - but under intense pressing by Benfica, United end up going al the way back to Lindelof in their own half.

36 min: Matic drives into the left-hand side of the box, shrugging off one defender before opening fire with a low shot from a tight angle. Svilar parries it to safety.

Matic makes his way through the Benfica defence.
Matic makes his way through the Benfica defence. Photograph: Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

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35 min: Lukaku galumphs down the left. The he delivers a clever centre towards Rashford. But United are denied by another last-gasp intervention, this time by Luisao.

34 min: United produce their snappiest move of the match, featuring lots of nice passing, orchestrated mainly by Mata. The Spaniardwinds up to take a shot from the edge of the area but is thwarted by a last-ditch tackle by Pizzi.

33 min: Blind makes ground down the left wing and sends over a decent cross. Rashford does well to get to it but can’t control his header, which loops way over the bar.

31 min: Jimenez surges through midfield. HE has options to his left and right ... but goes for the most outlandish choice, attempting to beat De Gea from 30 yards while off-balance. He mis-hits it terribly. That’ll make a nice gift for some fisherman in the Tagus.

29 min: Rashford, having switched to the right wing after getting no joy dow the left, exchanges passes with Mata before curling in a reasonable cross. But Lukaku, the only United player anywhere near the box, can’t reach it.

27 min: A slip by Valencia allows Goncalves to hare down the left. But De Gea cuts out his low cross.

25 min: Svilar scampers out of his area again to make another good clearance. He’s swept up very well so far. “Svilar wasn’t struggling with pain,” shouts Goncalo Teixeira. “He went down so that Ruben Dias could come back to the field - and he was told to do so by the ultra-experienced Julio Cesar, who was screaming from the bench. Not fair-playish, but effective!” Mourinho can only have been impressed.

22 min: Matic, United’s best midfielder so far, makes his first mistake of the game. But after he gives the ball away in midfield, Smalling and Blind bail him out. But the error is a sign of United’s increasing raggedness. Benfica have got the upper hand again and are looking much more lively.

19 min: A few minutes ago young Svilar sat down on the grass and seemed to gesture that he had strained in his leg something, but now he appears to be fine, and has just wellied two mighty punts downfield. “Mourinho has convinced me that United have no chance tonight against the deceptively brilliant Portuguese,” confides Ian Copestake. “So I am tuning in to watch Jose’s nightmare unfold.” Benfica

17 min: Lukaku heads against the crossbar from a corner - but the referee whistles for a foul on the keeper. That’s a lucky break for Svilar, who seemed outjumped fair and square.

15 min: Brilliant by Grimaldo! He shows wonderful trickery to spin and dart past three United players and scurry down the left. Then he plays in a nice low cross. Salvio, running in at speed, lashes a shot wide from 10 yards! Blind’s challenge put him off.

Blind does enough to put Salvio off his shot.
Blind does enough to put Salvio off his shot. Photograph: Patricia de Melo Moreira/AFP/Getty Images

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13 min: A replay shows that Dias suffered the injury in collision with one of his team-mates, Augusto, while everyone was jostling for position at Benfica’s last corner. And in another unfortunate development, young Svilar appears to be struggling with some kind of pain in his leg.

12 min: After Smalling takes charge at the back by heading clear a corner, Ruben Dias has to go off for treatment: the back of his head is covered in blood - I’ve no idea what happened to him. He doesn’t appear to be in pain so will likely be back soon, no doubt with a Steve Foster-style headband.

11 min: Mata’s attempted through-ball to Lukaku is intercepted easily, and suddenly Benfica tear forward on the counter-attack. Herrera is forced into an awkward clearance in his box, shanking the ball behind for a corner.

9 min: United have quelled the hosts’ early verve and are now looking the more threatening side.

7 min: A nice build-up by United concludes with Herrera threading a careful pass through to Mata, who’s pulled up for offside. He was actually level so should have been allowed to continue his run to goal.

5 min: Luisao darn near clothes-lines Mkitharyan on half-way and gets a deserved bollocking from the referee - and a yellow card.

Luisao clothes-lines Mkitharyan.
Luisao clothes-lines Mkitharyan.
Photograph: Francisco Leong/AFP/Getty Images

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4 min: Svilar, the young goalkeeper, gets his first Champions League touch - and it’s a diving header! He sprinted out of his box to clear a long ball before Lukaku got on the end of it. That’s impressively bold decision-making by the teenager, and well executed, to boot.

2 min: It’s a sprightly start by the home side. Theres no sign of a lack of confidence so far, as they’re moving the ball about with speed and attacking intent.

1 min: Kickoff takes place amid a mighty din, thanks mainly to the motivational efforts of a guy with the world’s most powerful megaphone. It’s on!

The Stadium of Light is light on people today: it is roughly half-full.

Here come the teams. United are all in black but, on close inspection, you can still see that they, like Benfica, are wearing black armbands in honour of the victims of the fires that swept through Portugal last weekend. There will also be a minute’s silence before kickoff.

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Mourinho puts on the poor mouth again

First he bigs up Benfica, then he bigs up United’s problems.

On Benfica: “They have experience, they have tradition, they know how to play big matches. they have had difficult start to the season but they have a very good team and are better by far than our previous opponents.” Then he suggests Benfica have decided to play with three central midfielders today because Liverpool had so much success with the fearsome Can, Henderson and Wijnaldum trinity. “Everybody knows that without our strong physical players [in midfield] we lack options. We are short there so we have to try to go another way so we bring Mata in and to to be more supportive for Romelu.”

On Lindelof’s return to Benfica he says: “[There is] no pressure on him because he’s not an option, he’s a need beause Jones and Bailly are injured and Rojo is not yet ready. I trust him, he is a good player. He is at home so I just hope the emotion doesn’t influence him.”

The TV pundits are suggesting United should go all out to test the mettle of 18-year-old goalkeeper who is making his European debut just a few days after making his senior team debut for Benfica. I’d like to think that what Svilar is doing right now is revving himself up by watching YouTube footage of Nigel Spink’s European debut ...

Teams

The 18-year-old Belgian Mile Svilar becomes the youngest goalkeeper to start a Champions League match, beating the record previously held by Iker Casillas, currently of Benfica’s arch-rivals, Porto. Meanwhile, United give another European start to Lindelof, who has yet to start a Premier League game.

Benfica: Svilar; Douglas, Rúben Dias, Luisão, Grimaldo; Fejsa, Filipe Augusto, Pizzi; Salvio, Diogo Gonçalves; Raúl

Subs: Cesar, Lisandro Lopez, Samaris, Jonas, Seferovic, Zivkovic

United: De Gea; Valencia, Lindelof, Smalling, Blind; Herrera, Matic; Mata, Mkhitaryan, Rashford; Lukaku

Subs: Romero, Darmian, Jones, McTominay, Lingard, Young, Martial

Referee: F Zwayer (Germany)

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Preamble

Hello. Manchester United have reaped maximum points from their first two group-stage matches so if they win today in Portugal, they will take a large step towards reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time since the glory, glory days of David Moyes. And since Benfica are no Liverpool, Jose Mourinho might actually go for that win.

Benfica need to win even more because they were clobbered in their open two matches - including 5-0 by Basel - so they will more than likely need to take at least four points from their two meetings with United if they are to fatten up their scrawny hopes of making this the year that Bela Guttmann’s curse is finally lifted. Mind you, their struggles have little to do with any hex, more with the summer sales of many of their top players, including Victor Lindelof to United.

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