LISBON - Welsh midfielder Ryan Giggs
extended his own record as the Champions League oldest
goalscorer with a superb strike that earned Manchester United a
1-1 draw against a lively Benfica side in their Group C opener
Giggs, who will turn 38 on November 29, cancelled out Oscar
Cardozo's fine 24th minute goal with an equally well-taken
finish three minutes before halftime for last season's beaten
"This is why Giggs is such a legend, why he has been one of
United's best players for so many years," said United captain
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was happy enough with a point.
"All in all, it was a good European night, good to watch. I
thought the two goals were terrific," he told a news conference.
"I thought our possession in the first half of the game was
too cautious. Once Ryan scored we played much better."
Ferguson rang the changes for the Lisbon clash, naming an
inexperienced back line and counting on the likes of Giggs and
Park Ji-Sung in the middle while leaving Nani and Javier
Hernandez on the bench. Ferguson also opted for back up keeper
Anders Lindegaard in place of David De Gea.
Benfica threatened first when lively winger Nicolas Gaitan
volleyed a diagional shot just wide after a clever lay-off from
Paraguay striker Cardozo in the 17th minute.
The two combined again to create the opening goal seven
minutes later, with Gaitan sending in a fine pass from the left
that the striker chested down to skip away from Jonny Evans and
fire in past Lindergaard. United had not conceded a goal in
their previous six Champions League away games.
United created little in the opening half with in-form
striker Wayne Rooney unable to make an impact.
But they conjured an equaliser just before the break with
their first effort on target, Antonio Valencia finding Giggs on
the edge of the box and he fired a rasping drive past Artur.
"Benfica had a great game, we played eye-to-eye against
United, creating a lot of chances and they scored with their
first chance on target," said Benfica midfielder Javi Garcia.
Giggs almost grabbed a second on 64 minutes, dribbling past
three defenders to shoot from near the penalty spot, but Artur
made a reflex save to tip the ball away for a corner.
Benfica responded two minutes later with the game's best
flowing move, Aimar leading a counter attack and his compatriot
Gaitan serving substitute forward Nolito, who placed a shot that
Lindegaard had to stretch to palm away.
Growing in confidence, Benfica drove forward and Spaniard
Nolito shot wide when clear on goal with just three minutes
"United are the big favourites in the group. Every point
counts and one at home against United is not great but it is
good," said Benfica coach Jorge Jesus, who had earlier suggested
he would be satisfied with a draw.
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