Manchester United enjoyed a shaky 2-0 victory over Benfica. Despite the roller coaster of momentum that lead to United effectively securing their passage into the next round of the Champions League, there were a few encouraging signs that the team could be back to the blistering form that they started the season in.
1.) Anthony Martial was magical once again
Yes, yes, yes, he missed a penalty. Martial critics will be keen to show that highlight leading up to United’s game against Chelsea. Penalty gaff aside though, Martial was just about unplayable. Douglas, Benfica’s right back, will be suffering from vertigo for the next week. Martial spun him inside out so many times that you wonder why manager Rui Vitória left him at the mercy of the Frenchman. United’s number 11 completed almost every single one of his take-ons, putting on an absolute 1v1 clinic. The only thing missing from his scintillating performance a goal or an assist.
2.) Just how badly can United play and still win?
A few bright spots and neat interchanges aside, United were fairly abysmal. Benfica stroked the ball around Old Trafford in a way very few opponents have this season. Mourinho’s side could barely keep the ball for anything more than a few passes at best. In defense, Eric Bailly nearly gifted Benfica a penalty in the first half and a goal in the second. A rare bad game for the defensive stalwart, but nonetheless, he was poor in every sense of the word. Mkhitaryan continued his horrendous form, seemingly giving the ball away at every opportunity. Whatever is going on with him needs to ends quickly because United need the tricky Armenian at his very best if they are to push for the title this season.
3.) An eye ahead to Chelsea?
Rashford and Martial split time again, possibly to keep them both fresh and firing for game against the Blues. Both of them are on form and United fans are chomping at the bit to see them line up together. Matic was superb, and that’s quickly becoming his standard. There is a bit of a worry that Lukaku hasn’t scored for six games, but he has been generally good with his all-around play. De Gea was majestic as usual and that is another positive, heading into the weekend against our London opponents. 3 points is 3 points, no matter how it comes and that will be nothing if not a boost for this United side.