MANCHESTER, England, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Manchester United almost made sure of a place in the knockout stage of the Champions League by beating Benfica 2-0 at Old Trafford on Tuesday to make it a perfect four wins in Group A.
An own goal by Benfica’s 18-year-old keeper Mile Svilar on the stroke of halftime and a Daley Blind penalty in the 78th minute were enough for United who struggled at times to find their fluency.
Svilar, the youngest keeper in Champions League history, was unfortunate as a Nemanja Matic shot struck the post and bounced into the goal off his back.
Earlier Svilar, whose error had gifted United a 1-0 win when the teams met two weeks ago in Lisbon, had saved a weak penalty from United’s French forward Anthony Martial to keep his team on level terms.
United’s Dutch defender Blind made no such mistake with his spot kick after substitute Marcus Rashford was brought down by Andreas Samaris.
Benfica had several decent chances in the game but United’s Spanish keeper David De Gea was his usual reliable self and when he was beaten, Mexican forward Raul Jimenez’s shot struck the outside of the post.
The result leaves United top of Group A on 12 points while CSKA Moscow and Basel each have six points with Benfica still without a point.
CSKA won 2-1 at Basel in Tuesday’s other game in the group. (Reporting by Simon Evans; editing by Ken Ferris)