Marcus Rashford

Tim Goode/PA via AP

UCL wrap: Barcelona, PSG roll; Dzeko scores stunner (video)

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There were a few more zeroes on the board in Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League action, but that doesn’t mean the day failed to entertain by any stretch of the imagination.

[ MORE: Landon Donovan, USSF prez? ]

Chelsea and Roma staged a slugfest at Stamford Bridge, while PSG and Barcelona saw its stars shining, and Jose Mourinho orchestrated another away defensive masterclass for Manchester United.

Chelsea 3-3 RomaRECAP

There’s a lot to say about this one. Chelsea goes up 2-0 through solid goals from David Luiz and Eden Hazard, but finds itself down and needs another Hazard goal to rescue a point.

But this goal, one of two from Edin Dzeko, is why we watch this wonderful sport. Aleksandar Kolarov also scored and had an assist as ex-Man City men came to play at Stamford Bridge.

Benfica 0-1 Manchester UnitedRECAP

The perfect road match, more or less, though United scored its lone goal thanks to goalkeeper error. Marcus Rashford took the free kick that was carried across the goal line, and United completed more than 500 passes to double Benfica’s output at the Estadio da Luz.

Barcelona 3-1 Olympiacos

It’s not much of a surprise to see Barca triumph at home over Greek opposition. An own goal joined Lucas Digne and this historic Lionel Messi marker to build a 3-0 lead at the Camp Nou.

Anderlecht 0-4 Paris Saint-Germain

In case you think PSG cannot make a run this year, consider its list of goal scorers on Wednesday: Kylian Mbappe, Angel Di Maria, Neymar, and Edinson Cavani.

Elsewhere
Qarabag 0-0 Atletico Madrid
Juventus 2-1 Sporting Lisbon
CSKA Moscow 0-2 Basel
Bayern Munich 3-0 Celtic

Mourinho: Tactics involved targeting young Benfica backstop

AP Photo/Armando Franca
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Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho knew that promising Benfica backstop Mile Svilar would be facing some big nerves.

The 18-year-old was making his UEFA Champions League debut, and Mourinho instructed his Red Devils to challenge the backstop at every turn.

[ RECAP: Benfica 0-1 Man Utd ]

That paid off when Svilar carried Marcus Rashford‘s free kick into the goal, the lone marker of a 1-0 loss that keeps United atop Group A and Benfica three points behind second- and third place.

“I knew how good the goalkeeper was, I told the players that. We had a little bit of a strategy, especially on set-pieces to make him uncomfortable. We put men around him on corners so he cannot come out. He risks a lot, but only top keepers do that. He was unlucky for the goal,” Mourinho said.

Svilar looked dejected after the game, apologizing to fans at the Estadio da Luz and getting consolation from a fellow Belgian in Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku.

Nemanja Matic laid out United’s strategy a bit more, from the BBC:

“The manager said to us to try and shoot and get some crosses towards their goalkeeper because he is young and playing in his first game. This is football and I know he is a great goalkeeper and I wish him well for the future.

“We had control, some difficulties in the first 30 minuets but then we controlled the pitch. We used our experience. We could not find the second goal but did not make any mistakes at the back.”

Rashford limped out of the game, and Mourinho says he initially thought it was cramps. Instead, it’s a problem with his left knee. Simon Peach of the Press Association quotes Mourinho as hoping the injury is not bad.

United completed more than 500 passes, doubling Benfica’s production. Some have been critical of Mourinho’s penchant to play it safe, and he winked at them after the match in calling his tactics “a crime.”

“We were in control, David De Gea did not have one save to make. I never felt we could concede a goal and were solid defensively. Sometime I feel being good defensively is a crime, but that is a way of getting results.”

Benfica 0-1 Manchester United: Match-winner Rashford injured

AP Photo/Armando Franca
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  • No shots on goal for Benfica
  • United puts four on frame
  • Man Utd out-passes Benfica 522-237.

Marcus Rashford scored the lone goal of the match, then limped off injured in Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Benfica in UEFA Champions League action at the Estadio da Luz on Wednesday.

United is close to wrapping up a knockout round berth with the win, leading Basel by three points, CSKA Moscow by six, and Benfica by nine.

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho got his managerial start at Benfica when he replaced now-Bayern Munich boss Jupp Heynckes in 2000.

[ MORE: Landon Donovan, USSF prez? ]

Rashford’s free kick from the left fooled young Benfica backstop Mile Svilar.

The 18-year-old was making his UEFA Champions League debut, and was caught out of goal.

While retreating toward his end line, his two-handed catch carried him and the ball into the goal despite the efforts of his outstretched paws.

Player ratings: Liverpool v. Man United

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Jose Mourinho will be the happier man as Manchester United struggled to get going in attack but ground out a draw at Liverpool on Saturday.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The 0-0 scoreline suggests how tense and tight the game was but there were still plenty of good individual displays in a massive rivalry game where United preferred to sit back and let Liverpool do the pressing.

Below are the marks out of 10 for the players on each team.


Liverpool

Simon Mignolet: 6 – Decent stop from Lukaku in the first half. Not tested apart from that.

Joe Gomez: 8 – Joined in the attack when he could and a solid display at right back. His promising form continues.

Joel Matip: 6 – A little shaky at time with the pace of Martial and Lukaku but held his own. Forced fine save from De Gea.

Dejan Lovren: 6 – Massive overreaction to the kick to his face from Lukaku but did okay apart from that.

Alberto Moreno: 7 – A really good display from the much-maligned Spaniard. Uncharacteristically solid defensively.

Emre Can: 6 – Missed a glorious chance early in the second half. It was a tough one but didn’t sort his feet out quick enough.

Georginio Wijnaldum: 6 – Pressed high and put Herrera and Matic under plenty of pressure.

Jordan Henderson: 5 – Sort of forgot he was on the pitch. Another sub-par display.

Mohamed Salah: 7 – Created problems for Darmian in the first half and should have scored but put his effort wide.

Roberto Firmino: 6 – Struggled to get into the game but did pull a great ball back for Matip’s chance.

Philippe Coutinho: 7 – Always lively on the ball and United were scared stiff of him.

Subs
Daniel Sturridge on for Coutinho (79th minute) – 5 – Tried to get in the right positions but didn’t have enough time
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on for Salah (79th minute) – 5 – Couple of decent crosses but that was it.
Dominic Solanke on for Firmino (87th minute) – N/A


Manchester United

David De Gea: 8 – Magnificent stop from Matip’s shot and a calming influence for United.

Antonio Valencia: 7 – Dominant display at right back as he kept Coutinho and Firmino largely quiet.

Chris Smalling: 6 – A little bit shaky in possession but did okay. Booked for a foul on Coutinho.

Phil Jones: 7 – Another good display from Jones who showed great composure once again.

Matteo Darmian: 6 – Solid but had his hands fall with Salah, particularly in the first half. Couldn’t get forward.

Ander Herrera: 5 – Late into plenty of challenges and you can see why Mourinho has favored Fellaini over him.

Nemanja Matic: 6 – Not his best display but did a decent job of pushing high when he could and putting his foot on the ball.

Ashley Young: 6 – What you see is what you get from Young. Worked his socks off out wide but final ball was lacking

Henrik Mkhitaryan: 6 – Involved in the Lukaku chance but not much else. Unsurprisingly subbed out.

Anthony Martial: 6 – Looked lively in spells and helped set up Lukaku for his big chance. Subbed in second half.

Romelu Lukaku: 5 – A frustrated figure all game. Missed a really good chance just before half time and late on tackles with Gomez and Lovren. Isolated and first touch was all over the place.

Subs
Jesse Lingard on for Henrik Mkhitaryan (63rd minute) – 5 – Struggled to get involved in the game out wide.
Marcus Rashford on for Anthony Martial (65th minute) – 5- See above.
Victor Lindelof on for Ashley Young (90th minute – N/A

Liverpool 0-0 Man United: Stalemate at Anfield

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  • 1 win in eight for Liverpool
  • United remain unbeaten in PL
  • No win in 7 PL games v United for Liverpool 
  • 1 shot on target for Man United

Liverpool and Manchester United played out a tense, tight 0-0 draw at Anfield on Saturday as the home side had the better chances but failed to take them.

[ MORE: Klopp questions United’s tactics

For the first time in history there have now been four successive draws between these bitters rivals across all competitions.

[ MORE: Player ratings | Three things ]

David De Gea made a wonderful save from Joel Matip in the first half and Romelu Lukaku squandered a glorious chance for United just before half time.

Jose Mourinho and United will be happier with the point as they go top of the table, momentarily, and remain seven points ahead of Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool after eight games of the Premier League season.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]  

Liverpool started the brighter of the two teams with Salah causing plenty of problems from the right flank but David de Gea wasn’t forced into anything other than routine saves early on.

United grew into the game and Lukaku finally started to get involved, especially down the right flank and Nemanja Matic spanked an effort which flew just wide from the edge of the box.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

De Gea made a stunning stop before the break as Roberto Firmino‘s cross found Joel Matip but his effort was wonderfully saved be De Gea’s outstretched left foot. The follow up fell to Salah who fired home but it was all about DDG’s superb reflex save.

Lukaku was lucky to escape a booking for a cynical hack on Joe Gomez and had a great chance just before half time but hit his tame effort straight at Simon Mignolet.

There was also another flash-point involving Lukaku where United’s striker appeared to clip Dejan Lovren in the face with his boot while Lovren was on the floor.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Liverpool were by far the better team early in the second half and Emre Can had a glorious chance to put them ahead but he hooked a lovely ball forward from Joe Gomez just over.

Mourinho sent on Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford with 25 minutes to go to try and create some problems for Liverpool’s defense and spark United into life.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

It didn’t work as Daniel Sturridge and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain improved Liverpool after jumping off the bench but neither side could find a winner and they had to settle for a second-straight 0-0 draw at Anfield in their rivalry in the Premier League.