LISBON, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) — In their Champions League opening match, the English champion Manchester United did not manage to beat the Portuguese runner-up Benfica and eventually tied 1-1 on Wednesday.
The two teams are considered to be the favorites in the Group C that also includes Basel from Switzerland and Otelul Galati from Romania.
Manchester United had come from a four-win streak, having scored 18 goals and suffered only five. But it was an unrecognizable Manchester United in the first half, slow in their attacking movements and with no focus.
The first goal was from the Portuguese side. In the 25th minute, Paraguayan Cardozo received a long pass from Gaitan over the box limit, passed the Manchester defender Evans and scored.
The equalizer came in the 42nd minute. Ryan Giggs led the ball with no opposition for 20 meters in the right side of the attack and scored from out of the box. Although the English team had 68% possession, they had less shots to the goal (3-6) and less corners (1-5).
In the second half, Manchester United started with more domain and better attack. Sir Alec Ferguson, the Man-U coach, replaced two of his players, giving the team a faster and more unpredictable forwards. Chicharito and Nani went in and Valencia and Fletcher went out.
At the last 25 minutes, Benfica was stronger, having more goal opportunities, mainly by Argentinian Gaitan and Spaniard Nolito. Man-U goalkeeper Linegaard had much more work to do than Benfica’s Artur.