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UEFA Champions League

Estadio da Luz (ATT 59,671) 14th September 2011 - Kick off 19:45 Ref: D Skomina

Benfica Benfica vs Manchester United Man Utd

Benfica 1

O Cardozo (24)

ft

Man Utd 1

R Giggs (42)

Giggs rescues United

Benfica pegged back at Estadio da Luz

By Graeme Bailey - Tweet me: @skygraemebailey.   Last Updated: 14/09/11 10:13pm

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Giggs: On target

Giggs: On target

Ryan Giggs rescued Manchester United as they came from behind to claim a 1-1 with Benfica in their opening UEFA Champions League clash.

The Portuguese giants went ahead early in the first-half thanks to an excellent strike from Paraguayan Oscar Cardozo.

United fielded a much changed line-up, but they fought back in Lisbon and their hero was veteran Giggs who fired home a brilliant equaliser just before the break.

Both sides had chances to win the game, but United held firm and in no small part to Danish keeper Anders Lindegaard - who was playing instead of David de Gea - and made a string of fine saves.

Whilst Sir Alex Ferguson could not have been that impressed with his side's performance, with seven players making their first starts this season - but not record signing Dimitar Berbatov, who remained on the bench - he will be happy enough with a point from what, on paper at least, appears to be his side's hardest game in the group phase.

United had started in composed manner but all the assurance withered away as the half proceeded and Benfica gained in confidence.

Pablo Aimar pulled the strings, Nicolas Gaitan and Cardozo attempted to take advantage. Both went close, and both were denied by last-ditch tackles.

Breakthrough

Eventually the breakthrough came though as Cardozo controlled Gaitan's cross on his chest, before whipping round Jonny Evans and drilling a fine shot past Anders Lindegaard.

After finally being given a chance to transfer some excellent pre-season form onto the competitive stage, conceding United's first goal on enemy territory in this competition since March 2010 was not what Lindegaard would have wanted.

In truth though, the Dane was not to blame. He was one of seven players making their first starts of the season. And it showed.

Even Wayne Rooney was caught up in the general malaise, showing no evidence of being a white Pele as he was booked for clattering Artur.

Antonio Valencia had shown flashes of his old form and forced his way to the by-line as he charged onto Rooney's return ball at the start of the second half.

Once there, he opted to fizz a cross into the six-yard box rather than provide Giggs or Rooney with a cut-back.

Park did cut the ball back, but not far enough for Rooney, whose brilliant dummy enabled Giggs to get into the box but Artur repelled the veteran on this occasion.

If all this gave the impression of United being in charge, it was a misplaced theory.

Benfica remained dangerous and Lindegaard produced the best save of the match to deny substitute Nolito before Emerson fired wide.

Valencia and Darren Fletcher lasted 67 minutes of their first appearances of the season before former Sporting Lisbon winger Nani and Javier Hernandez were introduced.

If those changes could be put down to fatigue, the decision to swap Fabio with Phil Jones appeared solely to stem the flow of Benfica attacks as Lindegaard again did well to deny Gaitan.

Gradually though, the fire subsided from the home side, allowing United to claim their point.

BenficaTeam StatisticsManchester United
1Goals1
11st Half Goals1
5Shots on Target2
8Shots off Target2
1Blocked Shots0
9Corners5
13Fouls8
1Offsides1
3Yellow Cards2
0Red Cards0
79.2Passing Success84.7
23Tackles21
52.2Tackles Success61.9
38.5Possession61.5
49.5Territorial Advantage50.5

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Matches

Tables

UEFA Champions League Group A

UEFA Champions League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Atletico Madrid 5 12
2 Juventus 5 9
3 Olympiakos FC 5 6
4 Malmo FF 5 3

UEFA Champions League Group B

UEFA Champions League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Real Madrid 5 15
2 Basel 5 6
3 Liverpool 5 4
4 Ludogorets 5 4

UEFA Champions League Group C

UEFA Champions League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Bayer Leverkusen 5 9
2 Monaco 5 8
3 Zenit St. Petersburg 5 7
4 Benfica 5 4

UEFA Champions League Group D

UEFA Champions League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Borussia Dortmund 5 12
2 Arsenal 5 10
3 Anderlecht 5 5
4 Galatasaray 5 1

UEFA Champions League Group E

UEFA Champions League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Bayern Munich 5 12
2 Roma 5 5
3 CSKA Moscow 5 5
4 Manchester City 5 5

UEFA Champions League Group F

UEFA Champions League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Paris St Germain 5 13
2 Barcelona 5 12
3 Ajax 5 2
4 Apoel Nicosia 5 1

UEFA Champions League Group G

UEFA Champions League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Chelsea 5 11
2 Sporting Lisbon 5 7
3 Schalke 5 5
4 Maribor 5 3

UEFA Champions League Group H

UEFA Champions League
Pos Team P Pts
1 FC Porto 5 13
2 Shakhtar Donetsk 5 8
3 Athletic Bilbao 5 4
4 BATE Borisov 5 3

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