Manchester United made it four wins from four in the UEFA Champions League after they beat Benfica 2-0 in a Group A clash at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
Manchester United 2 Benfica 0
- Early Martial penalty saved by Svilar
- Matic shot goes in off the keeper
- Jimenez denied by the woodwork
- Blind beats Svilar from the spot
Jose Mourinho’s side struggled to assert themselves in the return fixture between the two teams, although a fortuitous own-goal gave them the lead moments before the break.
United looked shaky at the back, but David De Gea came to their rescue on a few occasions, while Raul Jimenez was denied by the woodwork in the second half.
However, a 77th-minute penalty from Daley Blind secured all three points as the English giants opened up a six-point gap at the top of their group.
Benfica looked a completely different team from the one that lost to United in the reverse fixture as they played with lots of industry on this occasion.
The hosts were presented with an early opportunity in the seventh minute when Anthony Martial won a free-kick just outside the area, but the Frenchman’s effort cleared the crossbar.
Rui Vitoria’s men went up the other end and Andreas Samaris fired a low shot wide of the left post from outside the box, although a clumsy challenge from Douglas on Martial inside the area on the left gave the Red Devils a golden chance to open the scoring in the 14th minute.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) October 31, 2017
However, Mile Svilar made a good save at full stretch to tip the France international’s spot-kick around the left post, with Chris Smalling heading the resulting corner wide of the right post.
David De Gea was called into action just four minutes later as he pulled off a super save to prevent Diogo Goncalves’ curling strike from nestling in the top-right corner of the net.
Svilar had to be alert to parry Romelu Lukaku’s low shot around the right post on the half-hour mark, with the Belgian striker steering a header over the target moments later from Martial’s cross on the left.
But the teenage keeper was eventually beaten just before half-time as Matic’s long-range strike cannoned off the right post and ricocheted in off his back.
Svilar picked himself back up to keep out Lukaku from close range in stoppage time, after a poor backpass had sent the Belgium international through on goal.
Juan Mata couldn’t react quickly enough when Matteo Darmian’s cross from the right was deflected into his path, as the Spaniard blazed over with his right foot on 52 minutes.
But the visitors carried on fighting and Raul Jimenez tested De Gea with a low shot from 20 yards out five minutes later, before the United gloveman produced another smart save to tip Goncalves’ low strike around the left post on the hour mark.
— SL Benfica EN (@slbenfica_en) October 31, 2017
Jimenez failed to punish Eric Bailly’s weak square pass in the defensive third on 65 minutes as he struck the left post from inside the area with De Gea beaten, but another penalty for the Red Devils 12 minutes later took the wind out of the Eagles’ sails.
Substitute Marcus Rashford surged into the box from the left before being blocked off by Samaris, and Blind drilled the resulting spot-kick straight down the middle beyond a diving Svilar.
Eduardo Salvio did well to direct Jonas’ looping cross from the left on goal at the back post, but De Gea was well placed to make the stop at the death.