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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Manchester United Vs. Benfica Highlights Video Clips

For those who criticise the Champions League group stages, this fabulous affair was evidence of the sort of entertainment it can provide.

United went behind to an early Phil Jones own goal but battled back valiantly with goals from Dimitar Berbatov, spearheading the team in Wayne Rooney's absence, and Darren Fletcher. The Portuguese visitors responded swiftly through Pablo Aimar to keep their unbeaten run this season intact and a Nani cross that deflected behind in injury time proved the final throw of the dice.
As it stands, United are second in Group C - level on points with Benfica but crucially behind Tuesday's opponents on the head-to-head format - with Jorge Jesus' outfit due to play Otelul Galati in the final round. Basel held out for a 3-2 victory in Romania and they sit only a point behind last season's runners-up in the table.

The Reds got off to a nightmare start when an incisive move down the right in the third minute saw Maxi Pereira feed Nicolas Gaitan and the winger's cross was shinned into his own net by Jones, giving David De Gea no chance.

Gradually, Sir Alex's side responded, largely through Nani's adventurous dribbling, with Artur brought into action by the Portugal international's free-kick and a shot from Ashley Young. The visitors continued to try and disrupt the Reds' flow but the breakthrough came on the half-hour mark. Young worked a free-kick short to Patrice Evra who helped it on to Nani, always likely to be the source of any inspiration. The wide man's left-wing cross was perfect for Berbatov to guide a splendid header wide of Artur and into the net for the equaliser.

The goal sparked a frantic spell, with Young firing a one-on-one opportunity against Artur's legs after linking well with Berbatov and Aimar bringing a smart stop out of De Gea seconds later. Although Berbatov later tapped the ball into the net, Evra had long since been flagged offside and Artur was yellow-carded for his attempts to get the Bulgarian booked.

Clearly gaining in influence since his leveller, Berbatov had a drive deflected over by Ezequiel Garay's desperate block following some neat work by Young as the sides went into the break all-square, allowing the fans to catch their breath.

The second half was just as exciting and began with Young's side-foot shot being blocked at close range following some fine work by Nani. Fabio spurned a glorious chance on 54 minutes when Jones' strong pressing led to him being in the clear with only Artur to beat but the keeper saved the attempted chip.

Undeterred, the Reds kept knocking on the door and, soon after Benfica lost Luisao to injury, Fletcher edged his team in front. Evra's superb ball into the box allowed the Scot to find the net, at the second time of asking after Artur did superbly to block his initial shot. Old Trafford's joy was short-lived, however, as De Gea's misplaced kick-out gifted possession to the Portuguese side and Bruno Cesar's cross hit Rio Ferdinand and fell kindly for Aimar, who gratefully smashed home from close range.

Berbatov had the ball in the net again but Young was flagged offside, probably incorrectly, before the officials got it right when Nani appealed for a penalty under Javi Garcia's challenge. Referee Cuneyt Cakir merely waved play on. Goalscorers Aimar and Fletcher traded off-target efforts, before Berbatov really should have restored the Reds' lead. Fletcher's intelligent pass freed Fabio and the Brazilian's cross was volleyed over by the unmarked Bulgarian inside the box.

It proved a costly miss as, despite the introduction of Javier Hernandez for Antonio Valencia, the Reds were unable to gain the victory that would have made the qualification process considerably easier. Indeed, Rodrigo went closest to a winner when easing past Fletcher but firing wide with his left foot. As it is, the final group fixture in Basel next month carries great significance and any hope of topping the group may have vanished in the cold Manchester air.

Manchester United Vs. Benfica Highlights Video Clips

Manchester United [2 - 2] Benfica
3' [0 - 1] P. Jones (o.g.)
30' [1 - 1] D. Berbatov
59' [2 - 1] D. Fletcher
61' [2 - 2] P. Aimar