Clinical and Efficient: Why Manchester United are a step closer to the last 16

Manchester United moved an edge closer to securing qualification into the last sixteen of the Champions League after a 2-0 victory over Benfica on Tuesday night.

The Red Devils started the day top of Group A with nine points and were looking to maintain their imperious form in the European competition against a side that had turned out to be the whipping boys of the group.


Find the goals

Benfica never showed any signs of intimidation or restraint, as they fashioned an early attempt on goal through Andreas Samaris- albeit unsuccessful.

The hosts were however awarded a golden opportunity, more golden than a free bet, to have their noses in front after Anthony Martial’s fancy little bit of play saw Douglas handle the ball inside his own box in the fifteenth minute.

Having created the opportunity, the Frenchman stepped up to take the resulting penalty, only for Mile Svilar to ward off his effort; becoming the youngest goalkeeper to do so in the Champions League at eighteen.

Jose Mourinho’s charges however found the breakthrough at the stroke of halftime when a vicious strike by Nemanja Matic ricocheted in after hitting Svilar’s back. United for the second time in the game won a penalty through substitute Marcus Rashford, but it was Daley Blind who was under strict instructions by the manager to take the spot-kick ahead of Romelu Lukaku and Ander Herrera.

The Dutch defender opened his account for the season when he fired home from the spot-kick in what was his first ever Champions League goal.


Like they were never away

Manchester United have now won all their first four opening games of the Champions League group stage, a fate they last achieved during the 2012/13 season, and will draw great confidence from the fact that the same imposing start led them to European glory in 2008.

The game highlighted United’s brilliant defensive organization, as David De Gea maintained his eleventh clean sheet in fifteen games thus far into the season.

With only a point needed from their remaining two games to advance into the last sixteen, it’s had seeing a trip to Basel and the home game against CSKA Moscow pose any potent threat to their qualification chances.


Written by Brian Humphrey

Follow Brian on Twitter @brihum

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