One Zimbabwean football legend, Joseph Machingura of the great Zimbabwe Saints side of the 1980s missed a flight to join one Portuguese league side, Benfica, a move the late great ambassador of the game always talked about as sabotage. The same Benfica turned up in a UEFA Champions League match against a red-hot Manchester United who failed to turn on the heat.
In the blowing hot and cold of Man U, the Portuguese side pushed forward and came around the left side of the United defense to steal the shine off the Barclays Premier League champions. A superb first touch followed by a classical finish saw the Lisbon side score to go ahead against odds.
Only a huge goal from a big player would cancel that sensational strike. Evergreen veteran, Ryan Giggs picked up the ball in the central channel, charged towards goals and finished superbly in the 42nd minute to equalise. That goal was of high quality but all the shine went to its significance to Giggs. It extended his own record as the oldest scorer in the Champions League, and was a mark past Raul Gonzalez’s record of 16 successive season in which he scored. United struggled to get maximum points and for their calibre, it was more of points lost than a point gained in this 1-1 draw.
Their neighbours, Manchester City were in new territory as they trod far too cautiously that they only managed to fire blanks all night. Napoli of Italy will be the happier of the two sides as they picked up a vital point in the 0-0 draw. While they were obviously nervous, they have enough quality to dwell on that excuse. Striking the cross-bar a million times as they did will not count for anything and the soon they forget that statistic the better. Their defensive midfield position needs to protect the central defense and they were getting caught for pace under counter attacking situations.
Real Madrid took the opportunity to shine against a spirited Dinamo Zagreb who they beat 1-0 despite Marcelo being sent off at the Stadion Maksimir. Di Maria scored the all-important goal in the 53rd minute with a superb goal. The antics and acrobatics of the hosts goalkeeper kept Real at bay for most of the night.
Bayern Munich were 2-0 winners away to Villarreal. Inter Milan were humiliated by Trabzonspor at home while Lille and CSKA Moscow drew 2-2 in France. FC Basel won 2-1 at home to Otelul Galati. Ajax and Lyon fired blanks all night to end 0-0 all.