Manchester United’s electric start to the season has fizzled away with two disappointing performances away from home; first at Anfield, then in Lisbon.
José Mourinho’s side struggled to break down a Benfica team that conceded five in their last group game against Basel. With limited chances in the game, it came down to the battle of the teens. 19-year-old Marcus Rashford’s speculative effort from 35-yards out was caught by 18-year-old Miles Svilar, but the young keeper backed too far into his own goal. Goal line technology deemed the ball did indeed cross the line.
Matić and Rashford performed well in what was a subpar performance from Manchester United. Here are our player ratings:
David De Gea: 6.5
De Gea’s heroics salvaged a point last weekend at Anfield, and he notched another clean sheet to his impressive record so far this season. He was rarely tested by a Benfica team that looked devoid of ideas and creativity. The home team had a lively start, but did not capitalize on their succession of corners. Throughout the game, De Gea was not much more than a spectator.
Antonio Valencia: 6
After exploding down the wing in the opening games, we have seen a more subdued Valencia in the last few matches. Although unadventurous going forward, he provided some solid defending at times. Booked late in the first half for a rash foul.
Victor Lindelöf: 6.5
Granted a starting spot in the backline by Mourinho on his return to Benfica; Lindelöf put in a more convincing performance tonight. He was steady and assured, whilst looking comfortable on the ball. The Swede will more than likely get more chances in the Champions League now that United have a strong foothold in the group.
Chris Smalling: 6
A stable performance from Smalling who never looked flustered tonight. He steered Lindelöf and the United backline and commanded the area well. He got a vital touch on an early set-piece to clear any danger.
Daley Blind: 5.5
Blind’s poor run of form continues. He lacked any real composure on defensive clearances and his creativity going forward was subpar. After cementing a starting spot in the first weeks of the Premier League season; Blind looks in danger of being the third or fourth-string left back, especially with Luke Shaw’s return imminent.
Nemanja Matić: 7.5 (Man of the Match)
Another player returning to Benfica, Matić was arguably one of Manchester United’s best players tonight. Not only did he break up play in his usual efficient, tenacious style; he even showed true ambition and determination to make a difference in this stale game. He forced the young keeper into a decent save in the first-half.
Ander Herrera: 6
Herrera has been given the opportunity to shine in the absence of Paul Pogba and Fellaini. However, last year’s player of the year looks a shadow of his former self. The creative genius we saw so much of last season has disappeared. No one can question Herrera’s commitment off the ball, yet on the ball, he has put in limited performances.
Juan Mata: 6
Mata once again looked clever on the ball, however, it seems starting him out on the wing does not benefit this Manchester United side tactically. He ventured inside to his more natural number 10 role, where he found more success. Tricky and calm on the ball, yet ineffective in the last third, it was a just-above-average performance from the Spaniard.
Henrik Mkhitaryan: 4.5
After some mesmerizing performances in the first few weeks of the season, Mkhitaryan, much like Manchester United’s performances, have fizzled out. His creativity was non-existent and he gave the ball away far too many times. The lack of ingenuity offensively from Mkhitaryan seems to be having a direct correlation on United’s lackluster performances in the final third.
Marcus Rashford: 7.5
Unlucky not to be awarded Man of the Match tonight. United’s best attacking threat throughout the game, Rashford looked the most likely to create. Just after the hour mark, he gave United the lead after his 35-yard free-kick crossed the line after Svilar caught the effort. His dynamism looked promising down the left-hand side, and he almost opened scoring early in the second half; his powerful volley stinging the young keeper’s hands. A good performance from Rashford.
Romelu Lukaku: 6
Lukaku’s explosive start to the season has set a high standard for himself. However, much like last weekend’s game against Liverpool, he failed to deliver a convincing performance. Nevertheless, not all criticism is just on Lukaku; the lack of service is alarming for the Belgian striker compared to the start of the season. He will look to get out of his scoreless rut with an appetizing match-up with Huddersfield next weekend.
Anthony Martial (Sub, 75’): 6.5
Looked dangerous when he came on for Rashford with 15 minutes left. Some slick skills on the ball and fast going forward.
Jesse Lingard (Sub, 83’): 6
Came on after 83 minutes. Could not affect the game all too much, but helped speed up United’s slow tempo play.
Scott McTominay (Sub, 90’): N/A
Came on in stoppage time, too short of time for a rating.
José Mourinho: 5
Another defensive-minded performance from Mourinho. With enough creative ability on the field and on the bench, there is no excuse not to put a few past the bottom placed team in the group. Effective once again in terms of the result, but United will need more going forward against better teams.