There were eight changes from the starting line up against Bolton at the weekend.
Our Man of the Match at Red Flag for United’s close encounter with Benfica is one of the players who were brought into the team. At 37 years young Ryan Giggs was the difference for United in Portugal and without whom may not have managed to dig a draw out of the game.
After Oscar Cardozo complimented his skilful touches by smashing the ball past Anders Lindegaard to put Benfica 1-0 up, United appeared to be struggling to push their way back into the game and were very much lacking flair. Just as it looked like a lacklustre United side would be going into half time trailing and awaiting the Fergie hairdryer treatment, out of nowhere Ryan Giggs pulled them right back into the game. With the first real excitement to emerge from his side Ryan Giggs took the ball from Valencia, who had torn away down the right, unleashing a shot from just outside the Benfica area and firing straight into the back of the net.
His superb goal in Portugal meant Ryan Giggs has now scored in 22 consecutive seasons for Manchester United. This goal saw his 37 year old legs power forward into space before letting loose with a shot Artur could only dream of saving. It was perhaps fitting that, after a season start with a focus on so many of United’s young stars breaking through, it was the oldest and most experienced player on the field who gave United their drive back.
The Welshman will be making the news for the right reasons following his first start of the season. At the age of 37 it is natural a player’s fitness is brought into question. However Giggs played the full 90 minutes against Benfica and was inspiring until the end. An intelligent player, Giggs uses the younger legs around him to not wear his own out and will often play a more restrained role in the midfield. He has adapted to sit back in the middle of the park and play clever balls to his team mates as he pulls the strings, building attacks. This allows him to save his energy reserves and burst forward when needed such as in the instance of the goal.
His bright style of play saw him instrumental in the midfield as well as the attacking third of the pitch. His reserved passing style of play in the midfield linked the team together helping United to keep the ball whilst he also linked up with forward players to play a supporting role in attack. His intricate drifting crosses from the edge of the box may have been more of a threat had there been someone in the United attack more dangerous in the air than the likes of Park.
Giggs continued to prove a threat in attack when he carefully worked his way past the Benfica defenders with fancy footwork only for his good efforts to be thwarted when his shot was saved by the outstretched foot of Artur.
Despite an impressive start to United’s season under a more youthful team, Ryan Giggs did himself proud with his first start of the season bagging himself United’s only goal of the match and proving to be their most influential player throughout. At the age of 37 Giggs has shown, still, what an asset he is to one of Europe’ finest teams.