Full-time - 94'
2 - 1
19:45 +00:00, December 7, 2005
Estadio da Luz
The Stadium of Light erupts as Benfica progress, finishing top of Group D. United can have few complaints; they were fairly ordinary tonight.
FULL-TIME: United miss out on the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time in over a decade.
The goalkeeper takes the opportunity to waste some more time as he receives some treatment on a shoulder injury.
A long ball over the top is comfortably taken by Quim, although Ferdinand nudges the goalkeeper as he collects the ball and is booked for sending him toppling in to the advertising boards.
Ferguson still looks hopeful on the touchline, but United don't look likely of getting the goal they need right now.
There will be four minutes of stoppage time.
There are some very glum faces in the United section of the stadium.
United are leaving only a couple of players at the back; Mantorras can't exploit the space though as he is tackled by Silvestre.
United have loaded men forward; Ferdinand is playing as a third centre-forward at the moment as the visitors search desperately for an equaliser.
Beto tries a shot from distance as Benfica try to waste as much time as they can.
United captain Neville is booked for a late challenge from behind on Nelson; it was a tackle of pure frustration.
SUB: Richardson replaces O'Shea. United's final substitution is another attacking one. A final throw of the dice.
Scholes feeds Neville in down the right wing, but the linesman flags for off-side; another wasted chance for the visitors.
For all their pressure, United haven't really tested Quim in the second half.
Smith is angry when the referee rules that he has fouled Nuno Gomes as they challenged for a high ball.
United are going through another spell of being sloppy in possession; too often they are over-running the ball or being wasteful with their passes.
BENFICA SUB: Mantorras replaces Geovanni. A striker for a striker for the home side. Geovanni has been a willing runner all night; he's done his job.
More woeful timewasting from the home side, as Geovanni fakes an injury, moments before he is due for substitution.
SAVE! Geovanni finds himself one-on-one with Silvestre, inside the United area. He goes on to his right foot and blasts a close-range shot at goal, but Van Der Sar blocks on his goalline.
Ferguson is desperately trying to get the referee's attention to make sure he is keeping an eye on all the Benfica time-wasteing.
Saha attempts to chest the ball through to Van Nistelrooy on the edge of the area; the Dutchman almost brings the ball under control, but his touch is a little heavy and Quim collects.
Not long to go for United, although a single goal here would be enough to send them through.
Benfica are using all the tricks to waste time and frustrate United; Quim is down on the turf, complaining of a mystery ailment.
CHANCE! Benfica break, three against two; the ball is worked to Perreira, but he shanks his shot wide of the near post when faced only by Van Der Sar.
Anderson is having an impressive half. He is winning everything in the air.
United are having all the ball now, and beginning to mount some pressure on the home goal.
O'Shea charges down an attempted clearance; he cuts the ball back to Rooney, but as he shifts the ball on to his right foot, a Benfica player blocks his shot.
BENFICA SUB: Nuno Assis off, Perreira on. Koeman makes his first change as he attempts to see his side in to the knockout stages.
...The ball is lofted in to the middle, but Saha's ambitious over-head kick results in a free-kick to Benfica for a high foot.
Rooney stands over the set-piece as players jostle for position in the middle...
Park's determination wins his side a free-kick on the left-edge of the penalty area.
A dreadfully sloppy pass from Saha puts United on the back foot as Nuno Gomes and Geovanni break at pace.
Superb run from Rooney as he drifts past a three Benfica players, although his cross is blocked at the near post.
Nuno Gomes has the chance to slide in Nuno Assis, but his pass is too heavy and Ferdinand can clear up the danger on the edge of his penalty area.
News from across the border in Spain is that Villarreal have just scored - meaning that United only need to equalise to go through.
SUB: Ronaldo is replaced by Park. The former Sporting Lisbon player is whistled on his departure as Ferguson makes his second change of the evening.
Rooney takes the free-kick, but his attempt to find the top corner at the near post is a few yards wide. Not the best effort from Rooney.
...The Benfica wall keeps creeping forward to put the United man under pressure...
United win a soft free-kick on the edge of the penalty area when Anderson brings down Van Nistelrooy. Petit is booked for taking his protests a little too far. Rooney stands over the ball...
Rooney releases Saha down the left; his cut-back finds Van Nistelrooy, but his shot is blocked on the six-yard box. The linesman had adjudged the ball out of play anyway.
Rooney seems to have been moved out to the left wing to accomodate the arrival of Saha.
Benfica have been content to do most of their attacking on the break this half, although United look fairly comfortable at the moment.
Rooney does well to cut in around the back of the Benfica defence; his left-foot cross is a little too high for Ronaldo at the back post, however.
SUB: Giggs is replaced by Saha. The United veteran doesn't look very happy as he is replaced by the French striker.
United prepare to make a change as Saha strips off in the dug-out. Ronaldo might be the man to make way; he has been very sloppy with the ball at his feet.
CHANCE! A slick United passing move ends when Van Nistelrooy feeds the ball in to the feet of Ronaldo. But, with Scholes free at the back post, the youngster gets caught in two minds and his cross-shot slides wide of the far post.
Alcides makes an unseen run in to the penalty area; he is found by a lofted pass from Petit, but the full-back can't direct his header to a team-mate.
Nelson tries to swing the ball in to the middle, but Scholes clears easily.
Geovanni nicks the ball away from Ferdinand and wins his side a free-kick when the United man brings him down.
United are having a lot of the ball at the start of the second half, but they haven't really found the passes to put the home side under pressure.
Silvestre blasts a long pass upfield; Rooney does brilliantly to bring the ball under control, but Luisão tackles the youngster on the edge of the area.
Neville's cross in to the middle is sliced behind by Leo, and United win a corner. Scholes sends the set-piece in to the middle, but Benfica cope reasonably well.
United's problem has been they are giving the ball away far too easily; some of the passing has been very careless.
The Benfica fans can really sense they have a chance to progress through to the knockout stage here tonight; they are roaring their side on whenever they have the ball.
There are plenty of attacking options on the bench for United, should Ferguson decide to make a change; Saha and Park will be desperate to get on and make an impression.
O'Shea hoofs clear, and Van Nistelrooy's wonderful first-time pass releases Giggs on the left as United begin a counter-attack.
Nelson is causing United and O'Shea a few problems down the Benfica right. He wins his side a free-kick when the United defender dives in and clips his feet.
As things stand, United wouldn't even finish third in the group and make it in to the UEFA Cup; they would be out of Europe completely.
Silvestre gets sloppy as he tries to find Ferdinand with a simple pass that Geovanni almost intercepted.
Nelson gets the ball out on the right for Benfica, but he can't direct his cross in to the middle and United win a goal-kick.
Benfica start the second half.
Ferguson has sent his players out on to the field a couple of minutes early; United must have had a roasting at half-time.
HALF-TIME: Ferguson needs to muster one of his greatest team-talks if United are to avoid the embarrassment of missing out on the knockout stages.
Smith's crunching challenge sets up another United attack, but Ronaldo runs straight in to Petit and the ball goes out for a throw.
O'Shea does well to beat his marker and make his way in to the penalty area from the left wing, but Petit provides the cover and clears.
Geovanni is booked for a late challenge on Ronaldo as the United winger looked to break in to the Benfica half.
Ronaldo cuts inside from his position on the right wing, but his left-foot shot is blocked on the edge of the penalty area.
Ronaldo is getting himself involved in a few little scuffles; he needs to be careful, having already been booked. He wins a free-kick when Petit fouls him out on the right wing.
The corner is swung in to the back post, but the referee spots a foul and United win a free-kick.
...But the shot hits the top of the wall and spins out for a corner.
Smith brings down Nuno Gomes, 30 yards out. Beto and Leo stand over the ball as the United wall lines up...
Benfica are playing with a lot of confidence now; they know that they can sit back and hold what they've got, but they seem intent on searching for more.
United really need to pick up their performance if they are to turn this around and get themselves out of a hole; they look very disjointed.
Rooney fouls Luisão as he hunts down a ball near the Benfica corner flag.
Geovanni is adjudged to have dived as he chased down a long ball over the top of Silvestre; United hearts must have been in mouths as the referee blew his whistle.
Beto's low strike from the right-corner of the penalty area has lit up the Stadium of Light; United have a lot to do now...
GOAL! Beto smashes a shot from 25 yards; it seems to catch Van Der Sar a little unawares, and sneaks inside the near post.
Nuno Assis shoots from 30 yards, but he drags his effort well wide of Van Der Sar's near post.
Ronaldo gets to the by-line down the left and sends over a low cross; Rooney finds the ball at his feet, but he can't turn to get his shot away and Benfica clear.
Giggs curls the corner in to the middle, but the home side scramble the ball clear.
OOH! Scholes latches on to a loose ball on the edge of the area and unleashes a trademark drive, but Quim makes a good, diving save to push the ball over the bar.
Benfica break at pace down the right, but Silvestre does well to hold up Nelson inside the penalty area as the United players flood back.
Rooney tries to clip a pass in to Van Nistelrooy inside the penalty area, but Petit closes him down quickly and blocks.
Petit lofts a hopeful ball in to the United penalty area, but the home side only have Geovanni in an advanced position and Van der Sar is able to claim.
Nelson does well as he sticks to Giggs and forces the ball out for a throw; Giggs is angry than Neville O'Shea wasn't giving him any support down the left flank.
Benfica have grown in confidence since they scored; they are knocking the ball about with a lot more purpose now.
This time Neville is penalised for a slight push on a Benfica player, just inside the United half. The visitors need to keep their cool here.
Ronaldo is adjudged to have fouled Leo as the pair chased Rooney's clever reverse pass over the top of the Benfica defence. The United player is furious with the decision, and quite rightly.
Ronaldo is having a tough night; he loses the ball and then fouls Beto as he tries to win the ball back. The crowd bay for a booking, and the referee agrees. Yellow card.
Ferdinand lofts a long pass down the right wing for Ronaldo to chase, but the young winger can't keep the ball in play and Benfica win a throw.
Geovanni's header was his first goal of the season; it couldn't have come at a better time for the home side.
But Benfica defend the lofted ball in to the penalty area well as Leo clears the danger.
Anderson bundles over Rooney and United win a free-kick inside the centre-circle.
The crowd are really getting behind the home side now; there is a fantastic atmosphere here.
So, United's lead only lasted 10 minutes, and Benfica are now right back in the group. It really was an excellent cross from the right by Nelson, and Geovanni made no mistake with his header.
GOAL! Geovanni plants home a diving header from six yards out; he was unmarked and superbly found by Nelson's cross.
Nuno Assis sends over a right-footed cross from the left wing, but it is over the head of Nuno Gomes and the ball runs out for a goal-kick.
Rooney again causes problems as he breaks down the right flank, but his cut back is behind all the United runners on the edge of the penalty area.
Only a win for Benfica will be enough to see them through to the next stage, so the home side are going to have to up the tempo.
Great play from Rooney as he peels off his marker, controls a long ball from the back and tries to clip a pass in to Van Nistelrooy; unfortunately his cross is a little close to the keeper.
Giggs has made a very impressive start; he and Ronaldo seem to be roaming from wing to wing without a care, and the Benfica defence are having trouble picking them up.
United have started very well; they have countered anything that the home side have offered, and are looking dangerous in midfield.
If United win tonight, it doesn't matter what happens in the other group game; they will be through to the knockout stages. Their progress is in their own hands...
SHOT! Beto blasts a low shot goalwards from 25 yards, but Van Der Sar is solidly behind the shot and claims comfortably.
A great start for the visitors' Giggs did superbly to slide Neville in behind Anderson, and Scholes managed to ghost in unmarked to prod the ball past the keeper.
GOAL! Neville finds some space in behind the Benfica defence down the right. He slides a cross over to Scholes at the back post, and the midfielder bundles the ball over the line from two yards out.
O'Shea clips a lofted ball over his marker for Giggs to run on to, but Leo comes across to cover and clear the danger.
It's been quite an even opening; neither side has mustered a chance as yet, and both midfields are showing an appetite to keep the ball short and on the floor.
Ronaldo concedes the first free-kick of the evening. Petit swings the ball to the back post, where O'Shea does just enough to ensure that Gomes heads wide.
Cristiano Ronaldo is getting a hot reception, back in his homeland. He used to play for Benfica's great rivals Sporting Lisbon.
United are playing with a traditional 4-4-2 formation, while Benfica favour a more more modern 4-3-3.
Benfica line up with an all-Brazilian back four.
The visitors are playing in their all-blue away kit; the home side in red shirts and white shorts.
United kick off.
And here they are; the players emerge to a fantastic reception from the fans. It's a plasant evening in Lisbon; dry and mild, and the pitch looks in excellent condition.
The players are in the tunnel, preparing to come out in to The Stadium of Light.
Hola, amigos, gracias por estar con nosotros en una jornada clave de la UEFA Champions League
Some team news: Sir Alex Ferguson has chosen
two wingers in Ryan Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo, with Ruud van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney also taking their places in an attacking line-up.
This game has been described in the British press as 'massive'. That's how important it is to Manchester United.
Hi, my name is Alex. I'm here to commentate on Manchester United's trip to Benfica, in their final Group match of the Champions League.
Pedro Manuel Torres Mantorras
Gilberto Galdino Beto
Pedro Manuel Torres Mantorras
Manuel Dos Santos
Edwin van der Sar
Ruud van Nistelrooy