Manchester United moved onto the brink of last-16 qualification in the Champions League with a 2-0 victory over Benfica at Old Trafford tonight.
An unfortunate own goal from Benfica goalkeeper Mile Svilar gave United a half-time lead and Daley Blind sealed the win from the penalty spot late on.
The Red Devils have now won all four of their Group A games, but CSKA Moscow’s win over Basel means that official progression to the knockout stages must wait.
Having gifted Marcus Rashford the winning goal in Lisbon a fortnight ago, 18-year-old Svilar was again at the centre of the action, saving Anthony Martial’s penalty on 15 minutes.
Martial earned the spot kick himself via a powerful run into the box which knocked Douglas down, and the grounded Brazilian used his arm to handle the ball and halt Martial.
Svilar guessed the right way to save from the Frenchman, but was not so lucky on the stroke of half time.
Nemanja Matic let fly from 30 yards, and the ball rebounded off the post and into the net via the back of the rookie stopper.
Svilar responded with great confidence and maturity as he rushed off his line to block from Romelu Lukaku to prevent United going into the break two up.
His opposite number David de Gea was called upon to make an important save in each half, tipping over a fierce drive from Diogo Goncalves when the scores were goalless, and then denying the same player with a diving save low to his right at full stretch, to keep United in front.
Benfica were much improved from the reverse fixture and came within inches of equalising when Raul Jimenez struck the post after intercepting Eric Bailly’s sloppy pass.
However, United made victory safe with a second from the penalty spot on 78 minutes, although there was some confusion over who was going to take it.
Substitute Rashford, on his birthday, won the foul two minutes after his introduction for Martial with a mazy dribble which drew a trip from Andreas Samaris.
Both Lukaku and Ander Herrera lined up the spot kick before Blind took charge and smashed the ball down the middle from 12 yards.
Jose Mourinho’s side are top of Group A with a maximum 12 points, and need one more point to mathematically guarantee qualification.