Thursday, December 8, 2005

United out of Champions League

Benfica celebrates a historical result with a 2-1 win over Manchester United, which eliminated the english team out of the competition.

"Our defensive line was always solid, we didn't give up any room to manoeuvre," midfielder Armando Petit was quoted.

Benfica's victory at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday lifted them from bottom of Group D to second behind Villarreal, who won 1-0 at home to Lille 1-0.

Manchester United, who beat Benfica for the first of their two European Cups in 1968, finished last in the group.

"History is made at Light" ran the headline in Thursday's Publico daily. A Bola sports newspaper crowed "Glorious!"

Paul Scholes gave the English team a sixth-minute lead but Benfica replied with a header from striker Geovanni and Beto fired home a deflected winner before halftime.

"We spoke at the break and we told ourselves that no goal could go in. We would play all night and keep the ball out of our goal," Benfica defender Leo said.

Cristiano Ronaldo, who Red Devils bought from Benfica's arch rivals Sporting Lisbon, struggled to cope with the tension and the loud whistles every time he got the ball. The winger was substituted in the second half and gestured to the crowd.

Man. Utd. had clocked up a record nine consecutive appearances in the knockout stages of the competition. They piled on the pressure late in the game but failed to create any clear-cut chances.

"This is a huge frustration for everyone. Everybody feels really bad but we have to start over and look to the next game," dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar said. "There's going to be a lot of media pressure, I think that's obvious."

Benfica goalkeeper Quim Silva played down the significance of the win, saying, "Making history? In a month nobody will remember this. Right now we're thinking about our next game with Boavista."