United really do love doing it the hard way as the Reds now need a point in their last Champions League Group C game against Basel if they are to ensure qualification for the knockout stages after an entertaining 2-2 draw with Benfica.
After Phil Jones’s third-minute own goal, United recovered with forgotten man Dimitar Berbatov heading in a delightful Nani cross. Darren Fletcher then ghosted in to prod past Artur to make it 2-1, but Pablo Aimar equalised from close range.
Berbatov and Rodrigo both had late chances to win it but were off target. The Bulgarian will rue the missed opportunity as he looked to remind his manager of his qualities after only starting four games all season.
However, despite finding the net it wasn’t Berbatov who caught the eye on the night. Portugeezer Nani is our Man of the Match as the ex-Sporting winger tried, and succeeded, to impress against his old Portuguese rivals.
Nani said before the game that the match would be won and lost in midfield, turns out it was a draw but he did have a point. United went for Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher in the middle while Nani and Antonio Valencia played out wide with Ashley Young in behind Berbatov. This attack-minded midfield was to the home side’s detriment as Benfica exploited the gap between midfield and defence with two tricky Argentines; veteran Pablo Aimar and Nicolas Gaitan. The pair combined well and would switch positions troubling Carrick at times.
But Nani gave them a dose of their own medicine with signature runs, skipping past opponents with ease with Benfica often resorting to fouls to stop the inspired winger. Nani is one to blow hot and cold on nights like tonight and he was red hot on this occasion as he retained possession, remained calm and composed on the ball and provided that spark of energy and creativity that was lacking from the side due to the absence of Wayne Rooney.
This was highlighted when Nani beat Emerson to cross for Berbatov’s equaliser after half an hour. He single-handedly lifted the mood of the crowd with his inspired footwork and continued to threaten throughout the evening as United pressed for a second goal. He could’ve done better with a couple of free kicks which hit off the wall and were caught by the keeper comfortably but his overall display was one of maturity and consistency.
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.
He summed the game up well when speaking to MUTV, he said: “We played some fantastic football and created a lot of chances to score goals and eventually wasted a lot. We let them create a chance to make it 2-2 and they took it. That was a big problem for us.”
Follow Saad on Twitter- Twitter: @saadnoor
Nani was the only person who actually looked threatening throughout the match. The loss of Vidic was very apparent because the defence was suspect and due to inexperience they were just making dumb mistakes.
You did not think the full backs were threatening?
I saw an article on football fancast.I think, its the new way forward invented bye NON Italian football style, which sadly we previously adopted.
I love Nani mate, he gets you off yer arse with skill and that sprinkle of magic and something different.He is wastefull though and does not still pick the clever pass.Thats time and maturity.He was the United player of the season last year and rightly so for goals scored and assits, up till the Anfield chopper struck him down, deliberately.
Watching Ferguson as he walked out of the interview was embarressing to say the least.Utd are struggling big time and Ferguson is either in denial or doesnt see it.A total hammering by City,outplayed by Basel at home,outplayed by Liverpool,outplayed by Benfica away and all the 1-0 wins in the league that have been down to luck rather than good play[Swansea sitter missed].No wonder he has not signed any top midfield players he does not see the problem.Well his record in Europe has been very very poor anyway.
Ferguson? He is titled? Can you apply this fact.
He see’s the problem, you clearly do not.Do you know the saying between a rock and a hard place?
FFS, Europe record poor, remind us mastermind, how many Champion league finals in the last 4 years?
”Well his record in Europe has been very very poor anyway”
Hilarious! Someone’s been in a coma or hibernation for the last 4 years.
carrick was MOTM by far
I thought that also mate.Its just fans views and the heat of the moment.Its best to think with a rational and the good of the team.
Who cares what your view is! lol.
You are not from Manchester, so you cannot be a United supporter.Mind how the fuck we get 600 Million supporters into Old Trafford the mind alone boggles.We are all equal and have a view to be respected and tolerated, regardless of how ridiculous or mind numbing and provocative it may be.I would go for on this game and because of his ‘scapegoat’ tag, Micheal Carrick, he was superb.Just to add credence to my view, I can support that ….Rah Rah boy view with a straw poll from around 1000 odd fans on the Manchester Evening News site.Innit! lol.The real fans site!.Pmsl.Keep it real, keep it United.
i’m the type of fan that is not ashamed or affraid to criticize the team/player/manager when i think they deserve it…after all, if something’s wrong, it’s our obligation to point out those negatives in order for the team to improve and i often criticized carrick and i consider him as an average midfielder, but in the last few games he’s been superb…now if that is beacuse our central midfield standard has considerably dropped this season so that “average” carrick is like a breath of fresh air, or his performances have been really that class is to determine, but one thing is for sure – we lack class in that area…that being said, he really did the job
Carrick was man of the match. as CRooney said.