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Report: Manchester United take three points in Lisbon with spectacular Marcus Rashford goal

Manchester United beat Benfica 1-0 in the UEFA Champions League in Lisbon on Wednesday evening with a spectacular goal scored by Marcus Rashford from a free-kick, the ball crossing the line and seemingly carried by Mile Svilar, the Benfica goalkeeper. Rashford was injured minutes after the goal, which could be a big blow for Jose Mourinho’s United as the likes of Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini, Eric Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimovic all sit on the sidelines.

Jose Mourinho fielded a strong side against Benfica after the 0-0 draw with Liverpool at the weekend. Victor Lindelof, Daley Blind, and Juan Mata all returned to the starting XI in Lisbon. United did not start all that well with Benfica controlling the game and getting their plan into place, winless in two Champions League matches so far this season. In the 15th minute, Salvio had the first credible chance of the match with Grimaldo setting him up, the shot wide of the target. Romelu Lukaku had a chance, heading the ball against the crossbar, but a foul on Svilar was awarded to the hosts.

In the 28th minute of the match, with Benfica still aiming to dominate, just as Liverpool did at the weekend, Diogo Goncalves hit his effort, which was deflected and comfortably gathered by David De Gea, the guy who could be the difference between a point and a victory for United in any match. In the 32nd minute, Blind put in a cross from the left, into the box to Rashford, whose effort looped over the crossbar. Thirty-six minutes into the match and Matic had an effort after a surging run which was kept out by Svilar. United seem to have lost their momentum after the international break with injuries taking their toll on the team.

In the 41st minute, United saw their first booking with Antonio Valencia shown the yellow card for a foul on Jimenez, who made a meal of the challenge. After the free-kick, United broke forward with Henrikh Mkhitaryan on the ball but his effort was poor and United were still chasing the game. A minute was added at the end of the first half, with the gale still level at 0-0. The next 45 minutes would separate the men from the boys, but both sides will have to put a lot of effort in for either to change the game. Fatigue could be setting in for United at this early stage of the season.

At the start of the second half, neither side made a change with both seeking three points in the third group stage match in the competition this season. United made the break to find a goal to separate the two sides with Rashford putting in some work and Ander Herrera having the shot from outside of the box, which did not threaten the Benfica goalkeeper. In the fiftieth minute of the match, Rashford stung the palms of Svilar with a powerful effort, breaking forward minutes later too, unable to find a teammate in the box to threaten on goal again.

Just before the hour mark, United had been building something, gaining ground and breaking forward into Benfica’s area. Nemanja Matic had a shot from outside of the box, which was off target but something United needed to do to try and break the deadlock. Benfica made a substitution after Matic’s ambitious effort with  Zivkovic replacing Pizzi. United found the back of the net in the 65th minute in spectacular circumstances. Marcus Rashford took a free-kick from the left flank, straight towards Svilar, who caught the effort but the ball had crossed the line with the referee awarding United the goal.

Benfica made a second change in the 69th minute with Jonas replacing Goncalves, the Portuguese side seemingly seeking an equaliser after going behind and now facing the prospect of losing their first three matches in the Champions League this season. Rashford looked as if he could not continue in the 74th minute of the match, sitting on the pitch and taking his shin pads off before shaking his head. United’s injury list was about to get longer. Anthony Martial replaced the teenager in the 76th minute of the match. United seemed firmly in the driving seat after the change, Rashford’s spectacular goal seemingly winning the match for the Red Devils.

Mourinho made his second change of the evening with Jesse Lingard replacing Juan Mata in the 83rd minute of the match. United did what they needed to do in Lisbon, earning three points, seeing the Red Devils top the group after three matches. Four minutes of added time was to be played at the end of the match. Scott McTominay, making his Champions League debut, replaced Mkhitaryan in the first minute of added time. United saw out the game, which will show the job was done in Portugal. Luisao was sent off for a challenge on McTominay in the third minute of added time.

Lukaku took the free-kick, hitting the Benfica wall and not getting anything for his side, other than a throw in. It was job done for United in Lisbon, nine points out of nine with the thoughts on the trip to Huddersfield Town on Saturday in the Premier League, before heading to Swansea City next Tuesday in the Carabao Cup. Lingard was booked in the final minute of the match for a challenge. United will be seeking a place in the knockout stages in a fortnight’s time with Benfica heading to Old Trafford.

Goals: Marcus Rashford 65′

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Lindelof, Smalling, Blind; Matic, Herrera; Mata (Lingard 83′), Mkhitaryan (McTominay 90+1′), Rashford (Martial 76′); Lukaku

Substitutes: Romero; Jones, Darmian; Young

Bookings: Antonio Valencia 41′, Jesse Lingard 90+5′

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