UEFA Champions League

September 26, 2006



0 - 1

Manchester United

Group A

18:45 +00:00, September 26, 2006

Estadio da Luz

  • 93'

    I'm not convinced that playing Rooney as a winger is a great idea, but as I mentioned earlier I'm not a tactician. Besides which results are all that matter and United have got the one they came to Portugal to get.

  • 93'

    Well, credit to United. They might have been outplayed in the first half but they dug in and were much the better side after Saha's goal in the second.

  • 93'

    Miccoli lobbed a probing ball from right to left aimed at a stretching Assis who could only just get his boot to it and direct a looping shot onto Van Der Sar's goal.

  • 93'

    A late chance for Benfica ends up on the roof of the net as the final whistle goes.

  • 92'

    O'Shea and Carrick stall the Benfica momentum by swapping passes

  • 92'

    Time running out for the home side who deserve at least a point after a very impressive and dominant first half display

  • 91'

    A hopeful ball aimed at Assis is too long for the striker and United will take time over the goal kick

  • 89'

    Three minutes of added to be played.

  • 88'

    United press for the killer blow with Carrick and Scholes ripping up the ground in the middle to slow Benfica's progress

  • 87'

    What a nice surprise: Heinze took the freekick, whipping a low effort around the wall with his left foot which was blocked by Quim who then stopped Fletcher's effort from the rebound, and then again prevented Carrick from the subsequent rebound - a superb triple save!

  • 86'

    Not if they give freekicks away on the edge of the box like Petit just has on Ronaldo. Much nearer the area this time, again in a central position - wonder if Ron will take it?

  • 85'

    Five minutes to go. Can Benfica rescue a point?

  • 84'

    Alan Smith replaces Louis Saha; and also going off Wayne Rooney, in his stead Darren Fletcher

  • 83'

    A great defensive header from Katsouranis cut out an equally great pass by Rooney aimed at Scholes - clever play from both players.

  • 82'

    Angolan World Cup star Mantorras takes the pitch as Benfica press forward.

  • 81'

    Corner for Benfica after a good run from Alcides.

  • 80'

    Ferguson talks to Alan Smith and Darren Fletcher on the bench, could we be about to see some changes.

  • 79'

    United are 10 minutes away from securing their first away win in the Champions League proper since Novemeber 26, 2003. It's been a long time coming.

  • 78'

    The visitors are stringing passes together and look a much more cohesive unit.

  • 77'

    United have grown in confidence in the second half, especially since the goal.

  • 76'

    A great half-chance is wasted by United. A superb ball in from Carrick on the right flank is snatched at by Saha arriving at the front post, he will be unhappy to have not got his effort on target

  • 75'

    Asis looks to be a difficult customer: He's quick, tricky and likes to fall over in the penalty area. Heinze tugged his arm and the fresh attacker went down, but the ref waves play on.

  • 74'

    Ronaldo takes the freekick, but his effort flies high and wide. You have to wonder why someone else, Rooney for example, isn't involved in freekicks in such positions

  • 73'

    Katsouranis takes out that man Ronaldo and now United have a freekick in a central position 30 yards out.

  • 72'

    Simao's effort is watched over the bar by Van der Sar

  • 71'

    Freekick to Benfica on the edge of the United box after silly tackle by Ronaldo

  • 70'

    Ronaldo is very unhappy not to win a corner - he's mistified by the decision, which was simply wrong

  • 69'

    The Benfica players are mirroring the crowds frustration with a few rash tackles creeping in

  • 68'

    That Saha goal has put the crowd in a very grumpy mood - the cheers and songs of the first hour have turned to whistles and cheers.

  • 67'

    A few Benfica changes to fill you in on: Nuno Assis has come on for Karagounis and Fabrizio Miccoli has replaced Paulo/Jorge (you choose) Alves.

  • 65'

    A yellow card for Heinze - he's not happy about it shouting the odds to the linesman; that always helps.

  • 64'

    Rooney latches onto a great ball from Neville and surges in on goal before trying to bend a shot beyond Quim, but to no avail.

  • 62'

    John O'Shea shows the touch of a plodding centre-half to waste a neat bit of Ronaldo skill in a threatening position.

  • 61'

    The shot may well have benefitted from a slight deflection, but it was spectacular goal totally and utterly against the run of play.

  • 60'

    Saha burst down the right flank before cutting inside Anderson to fire a fierce drive beyond Quim.

  • 59'

    Goal to United!!

  • 58'

    Petit fires in a shot from range but he can only find the legs of Petit and United break

  • 57'

    Rooney is starting to look frustrated; his touch is not with him tonight and they bounce of the ball is against him. He is desperate to move inside and run at goal, but his is keeping in position and credit to him.

  • 56'

    O'Shea and Carrick don't seem to work well together; when one is in position the other isn't. They don't seem composed or sure of the other's role at all.

  • 55'

    Handball from Gomes, spotted by the officials. Benfica are creeping back into the game after a strong spell from United.

  • 54'

    Good control from Gomes on the edge of the United box; he slips a cheeky ball to Karagounis but he his shot is poor

  • 52'

    Rooney feeds the ball to O'Shea who plays it back to Ferdinand - decent passing from United... finally

  • 51'

    An extravagant 40 yard drive from Ronaldo is charged down but Heinze collects before feeding the ball to Rooney.

  • 51'

    Foul by Anderson on Saha after a long clearance from Van de Sar; pointless foul but United now have a foothold in the Benfica half.

  • 49'

    Point proved. Ronaldo won the ball and dribbled passed to players. Sadly for him and United he did so deep in his own half, meaning that by the time he lost the ball he was only at the halfway line. United are wasting his pace and skill as an outlet and attacking option.

  • 48'

    I'm no tactician but Ronaldo is wasted in a defensive role. Again he is being forced back by Leo's forays. If the formation isn't changed United will be lucky to draw - there is just no attacking invention from him or Rooney.

  • 47'

    Saha holds onto the ball, evading three players and spotted Scholes in space... but rather than pass to him the Frenchman opted instead to poke the ball to no-one. Whoops. Mr Scholes didn't appear amused.

  • 46'

    No tactical changes so far from United; Saha is still the lone attacker and Ronaldo and Rooney are both playing in wide roles; perhaps it will be 20 minutes before these attacking options are used.

  • 45'

    There is considerable room for improvement for United - let's find out if they can improve their performance in the second half.

  • 45'

    Back under way in the Estadio da Luz

  • 45'

    Halftime and Benfica are in total control - United are lucky to go in on level terms.

  • 44'

    Simao whips it on and Carrick heads clear.

  • 44'

    More trouble for United - corner to Benfica on the cusp of half-time.

  • 43'

    United are in need of a 15 minute break - they need to organise themselves because at the moment Benfica are all over them like a rash; Saha is isolated as the lone attacker, Roo and Ron are being pegged back by the fullbacks and drawn into rash tackles.

  • 42'

    The pressure is on United as Benfica sense that the visitors are out of sorts

  • 42'

    Scholes loses the ball as United look dis-jointed

  • 41'

    Neville mops up a dangerous move from Benfica in which Katsouranis was the key threat. It all came from a reckless spell of show-boating from Ronaldo who after beating two men went for the third instead of spreading play

  • 40'

    Scholes dives in - he needs to be careful having already been booked.

  • 39'

    Foul by Carrick on Leo; Fergie leaps to his feet to berate the ref - redder than ever.

  • 38'

    Heinze is lucky that Vidic (who is now looking more assured after a poor opening) was on hand to tidy up a sloppy pass with Acides on the rampage

  • 36'

    Paulo Alves (also known as Paulo Jorge) goes to ground with Shakespearean zeal after a fair challenge by Rooney - could it be he's trying to get the firey Scouser booked? Surely not?

  • 35'

    That said Ronaldo burst through the massed red of Benfica before being out-manned in an advanced position; how can a team including Scholes, Rooney and Saha find one attacker isolated?

  • 34'

    The pressure is a from Benfical; like his counterpart Alcides, fullback Leo is posing problems down the left wing for United, hemming in Ronadlo.

  • 33'

    Petit gets caught late after tidying up a loose ball; he has quietly been pulling the strings for Benfica

  • 32'

    A gum chewing Alex Ferguson looks a deeper shade of red than normal; it could be hair-dryer time come the break.

  • 31'

    United just can't get control of the middle. Carrick is pushing up too far and as a result Scholes and O'Shea are unsure as to who is the holding midfielder. All of which means clearance after clearence is snaffled up by Benfica who keep piling on the pressure.

  • 30'

    A neat off-side drill straight from the training ground catches Benifca out at a corner

  • 29'

    United are looking a little ragged at the back, Vidic again appears out of his depth.

  • 28'

    United started well but Benfica find themselves in control with an adventurous attacking game.

  • 27'

    The corner fails to threaten but Rooney concedes a freekick after flicking a foot at Karagounis

  • 26'

    Vidic was caught in possession by Nuno Gomes who then charged in on goal before unleashing a poweful low drive which would have been a goal but for the keeper's save.

  • 25'

    Great chance wasted by Benfica!

  • 24'

    Alves and Heinze clash and the Benfica forward gets a booking for his high foot on the Argentine

  • 23'

    The Greek midfield double act of Katsouranis and Karagounis have got the measure of O'Shea and Scholes at the moment; their interplay and touch have been good allowing for quick attacks and movement.

  • 21'

    Rooney has been kept quiet so far - the Benfica fullback Alcides has been very attacking and as the disciplined player he is Rooney has tracked back and kept an eye on his man, but as a result has been tethered as an attacking force.

  • 19'

    Leo knocks the ball forward but Simao can't reach it and Carrick steps in and wrest control of the ball before surging on.

  • 18'

    The home side look comfortable when in possession and certainly aren't afraid of United; and the same can be said of United themselves, an open game we have. That sounded like Yoda. A bit.

  • 17'

    Petit fires in a swerving shot from range but Van der sar watches the shot into his grasp.

  • 16'

    Good spell of pressure from Benifca. United unable to get a foot on the ball.

  • 15'

    Despite growing up as a Benfica fan the United winger played for Sporting Lisbon, Benfica's hated rivals, hence the jeers. Long memories these football fans!

  • 14'

    Plenty of hostility being directed at Ronaldo - nothign new there.

  • 13'

    An instinctive turn and fizzing shot from Cristiano Ronaldo could only be parried by the keeper, but the spin on the ball was too much for Saha to control

  • 12'

    Saha fails to tuck away a spilled save from Quim in the Benfica goal.

  • 11'

    Ferdinand pumps a long and ultimately pointless ball down the right wing - throw-in for the home side.

  • 10'

    A decent strike from typist's nightmare Giorgias Karagounis is dealt with comfortably by Van der Sar

  • 9'

    A very open and lively first half lies in wait if the first 10 minutes are anything to go by.

  • 8'

    Scholes get himself booked for a rash tackle on Petit. He's the second the United man in the book after an earlier yellow card for Carrick.

  • 7'

    The crowd are making plenty of noise making for a good atmosphere - The sort of noise United would like to here from their own all-too quiet fans on European nights.

  • 6'

    Good shot from Alves. His quick control and neat turn allowed him drop behind Heinze before fizzing a low snap-shot wide of Van der Sar's post

  • 5'

    United are lined up in a very attacking formation with Saha acting as the point man with Rooney and Ronaldo offering support from the right and left respectively

  • 4'

    Carrick, Scholes and O'Shea are moving to stamp their authority on midfield, hussling their Benfica counterparts

  • 3'

    Good pressure from United with a decent ball whipped in from the right.

  • 3'

    Paulo Alves looks full of self-less running, keen to chase down anything loose: Rio Ferdinand won't enjoy him buzzing about all night.

  • 2'

    Vidic spare Rooney's blushes after a loose pass let in Benfica full back Alcides; his powerful run threatened on the right flank.

  • 1'

    All eyes will be on Wayne Rooney tonight: The explosive striker is without a Champions League goal in two years and has made a quiet start to the season domestically.


    A chorus of boos and whistles ring out as United enjoy and early spell of possession.


    Belgian referee Frank De Bleeckere blows his whistle and gets the game underway.


    The two teams take the pitch, swap handshakes and grudging pleasantries and prepare for kick off.


    Last season's 2-1 defeat on the same ground to the same opposition sent United tumbling out of the Champions League in embarrassment.


    Manchester United return to the Stadium of Light for a Champions League revenge mission against Benfica.


    And for Manchester United: Van der Sar, Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, Heinze, Ronaldo, Carrick, O'Shea, Scholes, Rooney, Saha. And keeping the subs bench warm: Kuszczak, Evra, Brown, Smith, Solskjaer, Richardson, Fletcher. Referee: Frank De Bleeckere (Belgium)


    The starting 11 for Benfica: Quim, Alcides, Luisao, Anderson, Leo, Petit, Katsouranis, Karagounis, Paulo Jorge, Nuno Gomes, Simao. And on the benchL: Moretto, Mantorras, Beto, Nelson, Nuno Assis, Miccoli, Ricardo Rocha.