Benfica 1-1 Man Utd

By Arindam RejBBC Sport
Ryan Giggs
Giggs has scored in each of the last 22 seasons

Ryan Giggs' solo effort earned a point for Manchester United in a difficult Champions League opener against Benfica in Lisbon.

Nicolas Gaitan's delightful long pass picked out Oscar Cardozo in the 24th minute, and he controlled on his chest then finished from 16 yards.

But three minutes before half-time Giggs cut inside from the right and fired a 20-yard strike to equalise.

United keeper Anders Lindegaard saved from Nolito and Gaitan late on.

Lindegaard read the game well and made some impressive stops. The Dane's only previous matches for United had been against Southampton and Crawley last season, but he looked at home in the Champions League.

The goalkeeper's performance will put more pressure on David de Gea, but United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that the Spaniard will start against Chelsea on Sunday.

United's overall display was unconvincing. With Chelsea their next opponents, Ferguson chose to make eight changes and it showed, particularly during a disappointing first-half effort.

Giggs, who had struggled, ensured that they were level at the break with his moment of inspiration and the visitors did improve after the interval. The Welshman's goal meant he extended his record as the oldest goalscorer in the Champions League to 37 years and 289 days.

United had started reasonably well with Antonio Valencia shooting wide with a 16-yard attempt from a tight angle, but Benfica then began to take control. The impressive Gaitan drove their first chance over, then he fired wide at the end of a sweeping passing move.

Lindegaard made his first save of the night when he kept out a 20-yard strike by Cardozo, but he could not prevent the same player's next shot from going in four minutes later. The striker finished well following Gaitan's delivery to notch his fifth Champions League goal of the season.

Wayne Rooney was then booked for challenging home goalkeeper Artur after the whistle had gone, although the fouled player appeared to overreact.

Benfica carried on dominating, though Pablo Aimar was walking a disciplinary tightrope with a series of niggly challenges.

Against the run of play Giggs made it 1-1 shortly before the interval with his eye-catching run and hit. That laid the platform for a better start by United in the second half as they began to keep possession better.

The two sides exchanged chances as Aimar came close with a 30-yard strike after escaping Michael Carrick, before Giggs had a shot from just inside the box deflected wide by Artur's shin.

Nolito then forced Lindegaard into another save and Emerson shot wide with a close-range effort.

United's goalkeeper saved his team again when he tipped over a Gaitan effort. Benfica then blew their last chance of taking the points when Nolito failed to hit the target from six yards after another neat move.