A freak Marcus Rashford goal earned Manchester United a 1-0 win away at Benfica in Wednesday’s Champions League group stages. The only memorable moment in an utterly forgettable game came midway through the second half, when Benfica’s teenage shot-stopper Mile Svilar — the youngest ever goalkeeper to feature in this tournament — agonisingly carried a deep Rashford cross over his own goalline.
Chances were at a premium throughout the match, and the game’s first — and the first half’s only — shot on target didn’t come until past the half-hour mark: Nemanja Matić’s low drive from an angle was comfortably held by Svilar. Things were otherwise uneventful; save for an early attempt from Eduardo Salvio, which flashed wide of David de Gea’s post, Benfica offered little going forward, and were sufficiently compact in midfield that their visitors also failed to find a route through.
There was little change early in the second half, with United restricted to harmless efforts from distance. Ander Herrera, Rashford and Matić all tried their luck; not one gave Svilar anything to worry about. However, peppering the 18-year-old from distance eventually paid dividends, Svilar making a catastrophic error on a Rashford free-kick just past the hour. The floated cross should’ve been comfortably held by the Belgian, but he back-pedalled over his own goalline with the ball still in hand.
Benfica were unable to rouse themselves in response, not helped by the late sending off of captain Luisão, and the final whistle sounded with United a goal to the good. It certainly wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but we’ve become quite well accustomed to grinding out results in recent weeks. The victory means United have won all three of their group stage games so far, and already stand on the brink of qualifying for the first knockout round. I suppose it’d be churlish to have too many complaints.