Sir Alex Ferguson made a host of changes for this Champions League game and certainly in the first-half, for all their possession, it was Benfica who looked the more dangerous, and it was only after the break that United imposed themselves more on the tie.
In last season’s competition the visitor’s went eight hours before conceding a goal, but this time around they fell behind after less than half-an-hour.
The home side remained on-top until three minutes from the break when United levelled with their first chance of the game.
Out of nothing Antonio Valencia, who was United’s most impressive performer of the game, turned the ball into the path of Ryan Giggs who strode forward and hit a glorious rising shot into the back of the net for his 29th European goal in his 22nd season with the Reds.
United edged the second-half even if Benfica had chances to take the lead as Lindegaard saved from Agudo Nolito and Nicolas Gaitan late on.
Referee: Damir Skomina (SVN)
Venue: Stadium of Light
Benfica scorers: Cardozo 24
Man Utd scorers: Giggs 42
TRIBAL ASKS: Did Sir Alex Ferguson almost pay the price for making too many changes to a winning team?
Yellow cards: Rooney (MU), Carrick (MU), Aimar (BEN), Pereira (BEN), Gaitan(BEN)