UEFA Champions League

December 6, 2006

Full-time

Manchester United

3 - 1

Benfica

Group A

19:45 +00:00, December 6, 2006

Old Trafford, England

  • 90'

    Gameover and United are through to the last 16 and Benfica are out thanks to a pair of second half headers

  • 90'

    But that's full-time!

  • 89'

    Some tricksy juggling from Ronaldo who goes on one last run...

  • 88'

    Heinze tries his luck with a strange long distance effort - high and wide is the result

  • 87'

    The life is drained out of the game - there is no doubt as to the result and the players know it; they're just going through the motions

  • 86'

    Rooney tries his luck from 35 yards, but the ball was under his feet and his shot was pulled wide

  • 85'

    United playing keep-ball, spreading play and further frustrating Benfica who must not just want to get on the plane and go home

  • 84'

    A long clearance from Van der Sar finds Saha, who checks inside to find Carrick

  • 83'

    Vidic with a fair, but forceful challenge on Nelson brings a promising, it half-hearted, Benfica attack to an end

  • 81'

    Ten minutes to go and the game had almost ground to a halt before United saw a gap: Fletcher began the move and Rooney finished it with a low drive from distance.

  • 79'

    Karagounis is doing his best to inject some urgency into the Benfica side; bless him.

  • 78'

    A yellow card for Fletcher

  • 78'

    Solskjaer joins the game as Scholes is subbed.

  • 77'

    Old Trafford finds its collective voice as some, though not all, Benfica players look shell-shocked

  • 76'

    15 minutes to go, United 3-1 up and Ferguson has the result he wanted

  • 75'

    Saha shakes off the attentions of Nelson before climbing to meet the corner with a sharp header which was too strong for Quim. Game over, surely?

  • 74'

    ANOTHER GOAL FOR UNITED!! 3-1!

  • 74'

    A half shout for a penalty, but United settle for a corner

  • 73'

    And a United change: Bye-bye Ryan Giggs, Hi there Darren Fletcher

  • 72'

    Benfica sub: Thank you and goodnight to Assis, hello and welcome to Giorgias Karagounis

  • 71'

    A nice move from Untied ends with an unselfish pass from Rooney aimed at Ronaldo being cut out by a defender

  • 70'

    Carrick wrests control of midfield and tries to slide a pass through to Saha - it would have looked great had it worked! Perhaps a simple pass wide to Giggs or Ronaldo would have been wiser?

  • 69'

    Simao takes, but Carrick is there to head clear. Benfica are pressing as United have taken their foot of the gas ever so slightly

  • 68'

    Freekick for Benfica on the right corner of United penalty area.

  • 67'

    A change for United, Evra limps off with a frown on his face as Gabby Heinze takes his place at left-back.

  • 66'

    Benfica are working hard, Simao and Gomes showing plenty of fight and spirit - good to see, but you'd expect nothing less: they haven't given up yet

  • 65'

    Evra is off the pitch taking some treatment for what looks to be a damaged ankle.

  • 64'

    So as it stands United will top the group, Celtic will finish second and Benfica will be dropping into the UEFA Cup

  • 63'

    A change for Benfica, off goes Miccoli and on comes Jorge Alves - Miccoli is not happy but he's been poor this half

  • 62'

    Offside given against Rooney - harsh call

  • 61'

    Ferdiand with a crucial bit of defending inside his own six yard box - he cut out a dangerous cross to concede a corner rather than a goal

  • 60'

    A great header from Ryan Giggs! The Welshman lost his marker with a burst of pace as he ran into the box to connect with a peach of a cross from Ronaldo. The connection was perfect from Giggs who guided the ball back across the goal to beat Quim

  • 60'

    GOAL TO UNITED!

  • 59'

    Nelson gets the ball and tears up the pitch looking to find a killer ball

  • 58'

    Copenhagen are now 3-0 up against Celtic in this group.

  • 57'

    Saha wastes the best chance of the half, flashing a drive high over he bar after a poor ball into the box from Rooney wasn't dealt with by the Benfica defenders.

  • 56'

    Benfica look to be trying to ride out the storm - content to lump clearance long, allowing United to come back at them. It's a risky ploy but United could blow themselves out, or leave space for a counter attack

  • 55'

    A hopeful (or should tha be hopeless?) ball is hoised long by a Benfica defender and United once again gather the ball deep and try to pick their way through

  • 54'

    Luis da Silva does well to cut out a pass from Ronaldo indside the penalty area with Saha and Rooney waiting for the ball

  • 53'

    Saha and Neville with some neat inter-play on the right wing

  • 52'

    Evra with a great run and pass inside the Benfica area creates some problems, but Benfica scrap and clear

  • 51'

    Decent effort by Rooney with a glancing header from a Ronaldo cross

  • 50'

    Petit hit the ball strongly, but he leant back as he connected and the ball flew into the stands

  • 49'

    Freekick to Benfica five yards outside the edge of the United box

  • 47'

    Giggs whips in the corner, but Benfica clear

  • 46'

    Corner to United after early pressure from the home side

  • 45'

    Back underway at Old Trafford

  • 45'

    Sir Alex will want to know why it took a goal against his men to get them operating at their peak. Keep it here for the second half to see how the game pans out.

  • 45'

    What a way to end the half. United are back on level terms after dominating the game. They went behind to a wonder-goal from Nelson but Vidic has changed Ferguson's team talk.

  • 45'

    And that's half-time!

  • 45'

    The deadball from the right wing was clipped into the box by Giggs and met by the head of Vidic!

  • 45'

    GOAL TO UNITED!! 1-1!

  • 44'

    Freekick to United moments before half time.

  • 43'

    Only Vidic and Van der Sar in the United half as the Red Devils pile on the pressure

  • 42'

    Yet another overhit ball from the right from that man Gary Neville. A shot from Saha was charged down and forced wide, the skipper picked it up but could not pick out one of the three men in the box. Poor.

  • 41'

    Rooney's verbal reaction to a foul on Scholes earns him a yellow card. The last thing United need is to be reduced to 10 men

  • 41'

    In other words United need a goal!

  • 40'

    Celtic are 2-0 down against Copenhagen, meaning at this stage United would be out of the Champions League with Benfica going through as group winners ahead of Celtic...

  • 39'

    A slightly subdued Old Trafford seems to be wondering how they can breakdown the visitors

  • 38'

    Another poor cross from the right - Neville guilty of scuffing his pass

  • 37'

    United seem to have beeng iven the word to operate a 4-4-2 with Saha the point man and Ronaldo, Giggs and Rooney take turns to be the second striker

  • 36'

    Only Van der Sar in the United half for the home side - a risky ploy surely?

  • 35'

    The corner was headed clear by Rocha, but United are first to the ball once again

  • 35'

    The freekick is lumped in and goes out for a corner

  • 35'

    Rooney limps away from another challenge - freekick to United 35 yards out on the left of the area in what used to be Beckham territory...

  • 34'

    United on the quick break and Rocha fouls a galloping Rooney - Yellow card for Rocha

  • 33'

    Petit and Katsouranis combine to feed the ball out wide to Miccoli on the the right wing - pressure building

  • 32'

    A drive from Ronaldo hits Saha and United must build again

  • 31'

    Game on at Old Trafford.Benfica's first away goal of the group stage has added much needed urgency to the game. United started brightly enough but wasted possession and crossing opportunities - now they look piqued and keen to get the leveller

  • 30'

    Saha is denied on the line: Quim and Nelson somehow clear the ball off the line, but a slight suspicion handball by Nelso has Saha frowning

  • 29'

    Quim parries well struck, 40-yard freekick from Ronaldo and United have a corner.

  • 28'

    United need an immediate response - that goal was a blow coming as it did against the run of play.

  • 28'

    An unstoppable drive from Nelson breaks he dealock - he collected the ball just beyond the edge of the United box from Simao before firing home a sweetly struck rising shot from range. Great, great goal!

  • 27'

    GOAL FOR BENFICA!!

  • 26'

    Gomes grabs the ball in the middle and feeds it to Simao on the right flank. Trouble brewing for United.

  • 25'

    A lovely flowing move by United ends with Gary Neville half-volleying a cross into the box - it flies over Rooney's head and another good move ends after a poor or over-hit cross.

  • 23'

    Saha clears the ball only as far as Ronaldo who controls the ball on his chest before trying to dribble out of the box

  • 23'

    Vidic cuts out a great low cross from Miccoli - corner to Benfica

  • 21'

    United are looking kind of dangerous, in that they are on top, passing and moving well but not finding the killer ball. As a result Benfica growing in confidence - will United come to rue these wasted chances?

  • 20'

    More quicksilver passing from United but no end result, the ball ended up with Scholes on the right flank and his ball into the box was too strong for Ronaldo.

  • 19'

    Another longball is chucked into the box; this time Ronaldo saw Saha on a run, but Quim was off his line swiftly to gather the ball.

  • 18'

    A great corner from Giggs is misjudged by the United players in the box. Wasted.

  • 17'

    Carrick pings a hopeful ball towards Giggs and Nelson concedes the corner

  • 16'

    Assis and Simao are muscled out of it by Ferdinand and chums and United again begin to zip passes across the midfield as they probe for an opening

  • 14'

    Rooney still hasn't scored in the Champions League since his hat-trick debut two years and 14 matches ago. Will tonight be the night? He fouls Leo who goes down lack a sack of potatos

  • 13'

    The five man midfield is a favourite of Fergie's in Europe, despite the lack of goals it often brings

  • 12'

    United are inviting Benfica onto them; with a speedy five-man midfield United are hoping to spring a trap

  • 11'

    Despite the onslaught from United Benfica's midfield and defence seem untrouble, Leo and Rocha, Petit and Katsouranis taking it in their stride

  • 10'

    Benfica clear their lines only for Evra to pick out Giggs on the right wing with a glorious 40-yard, pin-point cross-field ball

  • 9'

    Benifica keeper Quim spills a shot from Rio Ferdinand. United win another corner

  • 8'

    Corner for United as the pressure builds

  • 7'

    You know it's nearly Christmas when Old Trafford start singing the Twelve Days of Christmas, with a few slight changes: '12 Cantonas 11 Cantonas 10 Cantonas 9 Cantonas 8 Cantonas 7 Cantonas 6 Cantonas 5 Cantonas 4 Cantonas 3 Cantonas 2 Cantonas and a Eric Cantona!'

  • 6'

    Ronadlo tries his luck with an audacious low, fizzing drive from well outside the penalty area; but it flew just wide of the upright.

  • 5'

    Giggs aims a pass at Saha but it is cut out by Ricardo Rocha

  • 4'

    United are playing an adventurous game the moment, Evra and Neville in advanced positions pushing Benfica back

  • 3'

    A moment of role reversal as Rooney, on the right flank, finds Neville inside the Benfica box - the fullback illustrates why he's not a striker with a pretty poor touch and the visitors clear the danger

  • 2'

    Simao looks to be playing in an advanced role alongside Miccoli with Nuno Gomes in a slightly more withdrawn role 'in the hole'.

  • 2'

    Vidic with full-blooded challenge on Simao

  • 1'

    Cristiano Ronaldo show his lightening pace with swift, early run down the left flank, but the final ball was too far forward for Wayne Rooney to collect

  •  

    It will be interesting to see how United approach the game - will they go with a five man midfield, as they have so often in Europe?

  •  

    German referee Herbert Fandel blows his whistle and the game is underway!

  •  

    The two teams take to the pitch to a loud, though expectant roar. United look focussed on the challenge ahead of them, it is simple enough after all, just don?t lose.

  •  

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

  •  

    Everyone clear? Excellent. The teams are in. Lining up for United: Van der Sar, Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Ronaldo, Carrick, Scholes, Giggs, Saha, Rooney. And the Subs: Kuszczak, Heinze, Brown, Solskjaer, O'Shea, Fletcher, Silvestre.

  •  

    Celtic, thanks to their win over United, have already qualified and a win over FC Copenhagen tonight will ensure they top the group. United could take top spot from The Bhoys if they win and Celtic do not.

  •  

    It will not be easy for United though as Benfica know they must win to make into the next round.

  •  

    Back in October Manchester United looked to be comfortably heading into the last 16 of the Champions League. But two defeats later and United need a draw in tonight's final group match against Benfica at Old Trafford to ensure progress.