Anderson #8 and Ji-Sung Park #13 of the Manchester United congratulate teammate Dimitar Berbatov #9 on his goal against the MLS All-Stars during the second half of the MLS All-Star Game at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Benfica Vs. Manchester United, 2011 UEFA Champions League: Ryan Giggs, Oscar Cardozo Score In 1-1 Draw

Oscar Cardozo gave Benfica the lead, but Ryan Giggs has made it 1-1 for Manchester United.

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Benfica Vs. Manchester United Live, 2011 UEFA Champions League, Full Time: All Square At Estadio Da Luz

It's ended Benfica 1-1 Manchester United in Lisbon, an even result in an absorbing but tight game. Manchester United had a much-improved second half, though chances still came at both ends, though in the end neither side could force a winner.

In the first half, Benfica had dominated - the Portuguese club had taken the lead courtesy of Oscar Cardozo, who controlled Gaitan's cross superbly and finished with an excellent strike on his weaker right foot into the bottom corner. It was a richly-deserve goal, with Benfica controlling the game in all areas of the pitch and United lacklustre, cluttering the pitch with countless sloppy passes and half-hearted tackles. At the end of the half, however, one of United's worst players up until that point - the 37-year-old Ryan Giggs - produced a superb finish out of the blue to level the game.

After the break, United were much-improved as Benfica seemed to tire, though with Wayne Rooney dropping deep, United had too few players getting behind the Benfica defence to pose much of a problem. Equally though, they owed their frustration to the superb Luisao, who stood out as the best player on the pitch, not putting a foot wrong in the whole 90 minutes and giving a masterclass in defending and reading of the game.

Another player who impressed was Anders Lindegaard, who denied Benfica with some excellent saves when they periodically threatened the United goal in the second half. Though even he should've been unable to stop Nolito, who was fortuitously presented with a clear chance in the dying minutes only to scuff a tame shot into the side netting.

As the game drew to a close, both sides turned to their match-winners - United to Nani and Hernandez, Benfica to Nolito and César, though neither were able to provide the breakthrough necessary, with defences on top for much of the game. In the end, it was a fair result for both sides, which both managers will be fairly happy with - Benfica know that the other teams in their group are unlikely to earn a point against the top seeds in the group, whereas United know that their toughest test is over. These two teams were the clear favourites to progress from the group, and tonight has done nothing to change those expectations.


Benfica Vs. Manchester United Live, 2011 UEFA Champions League: 1-1 At Half Time As Giggs Spares United's Blushes

...but they don't, as it happens, and Benfica supporters, and indeed fans of fairness everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief. The Portuguese side will feel hard done by here - United really had been woeful until their goal, and none moreso than the goalscorer, Ryan Giggs himself. That said, Benfica have looked shaky when United have ran at them directly - as Valencia showed when he created the opportunity for Giggs.

Either side could make changes here - Benfica will want to ensure they aren't exposed down the flanks, which have been United's only source of joy, but equally they've gotten a fair bit of penetration themselves with that route, with Gaitan looking dangerous. United, meanwhile, need to take control of the game. Ferguson has Anderson on the bench to turn to, and he could replace any one of United's midfield trio of Giggs, Carrick, and Fletcher - all three have been poor today.

For Benfica, it'll probably be more of the same - though Nolito is an interesting option for them on the bench, and they also have the extremely dangerous Saviola. United also have no shortage of match-winners on the bench, with Hernandez, Berbatov, Rooney, Owen and Nani all available, though that won't be their main priority just now. An absorbing game, and a promising second half to look forward to.


Benfica Vs. Manchester United, 2011 UEFA Champions League: Lineups

Manchester United have rested much of their first-choice side for their first continental match of the new season. Of their preferred starters, only Patrice Evra and Wayne Rooney find themselves on the pitch to take on Benfica at the Estadio da Luz. Gone too is the usual 4-4-1-1 shape, Sir Alex Ferguson opting to take a more cautious approach to what should be a tough European match - three midfielders have been deployed instead.

Benfica, meanwhile, have changed their usual plan as well. Out is the loose 4-4-2 shapes that last year's Europa League semi-finalists have tended to favour so far this year, and in is a 4-3-2-1 featuring Pablo Aimar and Nicolas Gaitan behind striker Oscar Cardozo. It's a relatively cautious approach from the hosts, but with Manchester United in such fine form as of late, who can blame them?

Benfica (4-3-2-1): Artur; Emerson, Luisao, Ezeqiel Garay, Maxi Pereira; Alex Witsel, Javi Garcia, Ruben Amorin; Pablo Aimar, Nicolas Gaitan; Oscar Cardozo.

Substitutes: Javier Saviola, Eduardo, Nemanja Matic, Rodrigo, Jardel, Nolito, Bruno Cesar

Manchester United (4-5-1): Anders Lindegaard; Patrice Evra, Johnny Evans, Chris Smalling, Fabio da Silva; Park Ji-Sung, Darren Fletcher, Ryan Giggs, Michael Carrick, Antonio Valencia; Wayne Rooney.

Substitutes: David de Gea, Phil Jones, Nani, Anderson, Michael Owen, Javier Hernandez, Dimitar Berbatov.

For Manchester United-specific coverage of the match, check out The Busby Babe. Keep it on our Benfica vs. Manchester United StoryStream for live updates during the match as well as post-match coverage. Check out SB Nation Soccer for news and updates on all of the UEFA Champions League action.

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