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Manchester United to give it Best effort

By Steven Beacom

Sir Alex Ferguson is intent on doing justice to the memory of Sir Matt Busby and George Best when Manchester United take on Benfica at Old Trafford tonight in a crucial Champions League clash.

While the Portuguese giants are not one of the favourites for this season's competition, they do have a rich history in the European Cup.

Winners twice, Benfica were also beaten finalists in 1968 when United became the first English team to lift the European Cup with Northern Ireland football icon Best scoring a stunning individual goal in a famous 4-1 Wembley victory for the Red Devils.

Two years earlier, Best had set the world alight with a mesmeric performance against the Eagles at the Stadium of Light as United ran riot, earning the nickname 'El Beatle'.

Ferguson, hugely proud of his club’s history, stated: “The memories of many Manchester United supporters will fly back to those early days in European competition when George Best mesmerised Portugal's finest in the Stadium of Light, and then ultimately to the night Sir Matt Busby achieved his European dream in 1968 to make United the first English club to win the European Cup.

“We will try to do justice to the memory of Sir Matt's tussles with Benfica in the old days because people of vision are rare.

“I always felt Jock Stein knew what was needed for football, and so did Sir Matt. I just hope I measure up in that way.”

United can qualify for the knockout stages if they beat Benfica tonight.

Ferguson will be looking to top Group C knowing an easier draw in the last 16 is more likely.

“You hope to finish top,” he added.

“One issue is the teams you might draw if you finish second, although with the quality of the teams, it doesn't make a great difference.

“The main advantage is knowing the second leg would be at Old Trafford.”

Northern Ireland defender Jonny Evans could play with Nemanja Vidic suspended for tonight’s game.

Belfast Telegraph


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