MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - The youngest goalkeeper to ever play in the Champions League, Benfica’s 18-year-old Mile Svilar, will surely be happy if he now gets a year or two of not facing Manchester United.
After his dreadful error in the reverse fixture in Lisbon, when he misjudged a Marcus Rashford free kick and carried it over the line, Svilar was the centre of attention again at Old Trafford on Tuesday, when United won 2-0.
In the 14th minute he was mobbed by his team mates in congratulation after he dived to save an Anthony Martial penalty, keeping the scores level.
But just before the break, luck turned against him when a low strike from Nemanja Matic struck the post, flew out, hit the keeper on the back and bounced into the net.
While there was no real error on Svilar’s part, the goal was recorded as an own goal from the Belgian-Serbian keeper.
“Mixed feelings of course,” said the teenager, when asked how he felt. “A lot of emotions in 20 minutes but I think I couldn’t do anything about it, it is luck. There was nothing I could do about it but it’s still an own goal.”
Somewhat surprisingly, it was Svilar’s opposite number, United’s David De Gea, who was the busier of the two keepers, making a series of excellent saves to keep Benfica at bay.
“We played really well, we had a lot of chances but an excellent De Gea as well so well done to him. As a team we played really well and I hope we will continue like this in the Liga and the Champions League,” said Svilar.
Matic, who used to play for Benfica and is reported to have advised Svilar to join the Portuguese club, said he was sure that the teenager would go on to enjoy a successful career.
“He is a great goalkeeper, he is just 18 and he is going to be a big star in the future for sure. He already played in a big club. It was not his mistake, he tried his best and I was a little bit lucky to score that goal. And he showed that he can quickly forget,” he said.
Benfica manager Rui Vitoria said his side would keep fighting despite four straight losses in Group A.
“Our position is not easy, there’s two matches to go and we’ll work hard to beat the other teams and at the end we’ll see.
“With six points we may continue in the Champions League, go to the Europa League or go nowhere,” he said.
Editing by Clare Fallon