Manchester United were indebted to a ludicrous error by rookie goalkeeper Mile Svilar as they beat Benfica 1-0 to take charge of Group A in the Champions League.
Svilar, 18, was making his Champions League debut and became the youngest goalkeeper in the competition’s history – but had a moment to forget when he comically carried Marcus Rashford’s deep free-kick over his own goal-line under no pressure.
That error was the difference between the teams in a low-quality affair, where Luisao was dismissed late on for a second yellow card and Rashford limped off late on.
It was a United performance that was efficient rather than entertaining but it leaves them with maximum points from their first three group games.
United failed to test the goalkeeper until 36 minutes on the clock when Nemanja Matic’s effort was palmed clear.
For a Champions League encounter, the lack of quality on show was show was alarming. Benfica rarely caused problems once they ventured into United’s final third, as identified by the fact they failed to a register a shot on target over the 90 minutes.
Matic flashed over from long range after the break and Rashford twice threatened Benfica’s teenage goalkeeper directly from corners as United pushed for the opener.
Rashford did catch the teenager out of position as the goalkeeper failed to stop the ball crossing the line from a free-kick that was whipped in from deep.
Luisao’s second yellow card late on for a late lunge on substitute Scott McTominay summed up Benfica’s night as they suffered their third straight defeat in the competition.