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United and Benfica seek progress at Old Trafford

Both sitting on eight points at the top of Group C, both Manchester United FC and SL Benfica know victory at Old Trafford on matchday five could potentially secure a place in the round of 16.

United players celebrate Ryan Giggs' equaliser at Benfica in September
United players celebrate Ryan Giggs' equaliser at Benfica in September ©Getty Images

Manchester United FC and SL Benfica meet at Old Trafford on matchday five each looking to take a significant step towards the round of 16.

• The teams enter the match level on eight points at the section's summit, three clear of FC Basel 1893, meaning victory for Benfica would guarantee first place. A draw would make sure of qualification for both if Basel were to lose at FC Oţelul Galaţi.

Previous meetings
• United have prevailed in six of the clubs' eight past encounters, starting with a quarter-final triumph in the 1965/66 European Champion Clubs' Cup and continuing with their 1967/68 final success at Wembley as the English side captured the trophy for the first time.

• When Benfica beat United 2-1 in Lisbon in December 2005, they eliminated Sir Alex Ferguson's team at the group stage for the first time since 1994. The only survivor of that encounter in Benfica's squad is Luisão while Rio Ferdinand, Park Ji-Sung, Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney and unused substitute Darren Fletcher remain for United. That was the last time Benfica reached the tournament's knockout stages.

• United avenged that defeat when Louis Saha secured a 1-0 win in Lisbon in September 2006. They subsequently came from behind to beat Benfica 3-1 back at Old Trafford and consign their opponents to an early exit, with Nemanja Vidić and Giggs among the scorers.

• The lineups for that Manchester meeting on 6 December 2006 were:
Manchester United: Van der Sar, G Neville, Ferdinand, Vidić, Evra (Heinze 67), Ronaldo, Carrick, Scholes (Solskjær 78), Giggs (Fletcher 73), Saha, Rooney.
Benfica: Quim, Nélson, Luisão, Ricardo Rocha, Léo, Katsouranis, Petit, Simão, Nuno Assis (Karagounis 73), Miccoli (Paulo Jorge 63), Nuno Gomes.

Match background
• United are looking to secure their passage to the knockout phase for the sixth season running and will draw confidence from their formidable home record in the UEFA Champions League with just one defeat in their last 34 outings at Old Trafford dating back to 2005.

• The English champions can find another favourable portent in their home record against Portuguese opposition at Old Trafford, which reads W8 D2 L0.

• Benfica are unbeaten on their European travels this term, having posted two draws in the qualifying rounds, then victories at Oţelul Galaţi and Basel in Group C. They last posted three successive away victories in the European Cup in 1989/90 – the season of their most recent final appearance.

• Benfica's away record against English opposition is W3 D0 L9. The Lisbon club also lost two European Cup finals on English soil, suffering Wembley defeats by AC Milan in 1963 and, as mentioned above, United in 1968.

Team ties
• Nani started his career with Benfica's Lisbon rivals Sporting Clube de Portugal. The United winger is a Portugal team-mate of Eduardo and Rúben Amorim.

• Anderson was with Porto from 2005 to 2007. Signed from Grêmio Foot-ball Porto Alegrense, the Brazilian made three league appearances in his first campaign in Portugal but in the second featured 15 times, scoring twice and collecting a championship winners' medal.

• Patrice Evra and Javier Saviola played together at AS Monaco FC in 2004/05.

• Benfica's goalscorer against United on matchday one, Óscar Cardozo has a knack of finding the net against English clubs having struck six times in four matches against Everton FC and Liverpool FC in the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League.

• Pablo Aimar made his UEFA Champions League debut against United, playing for Valencia CF in home (0-0) and away (1-1) draws with the English side in the 2000/01 second group stage, before lining up against Ferdinand, then at Leeds United AFC, in the semi-finals.

• Rodrigo made 17 league appearances (four starts) on loan at Bolton Wanderers FC last term, scoring once.