Manchester United: 5 Things We Learned from Manchester United vs. Benfica

Jonathan KooContributor IIISeptember 14, 2011

Manchester United: 5 Things We Learned from Manchester United vs. Benfica

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    After a fast-paced, back-and-forth game, Manchester United managed to pull one back and gain a point in their Champions League match against Portuguese giants Benfica. 

    Though some United fans may feel hard done by the 1-1 draw, the game offered up some lessons that the Red Devils can take away.

    Here are five things that we learned from Manchester United vs. Benfica.

1. Jonny Evans Struggles on the Big Stage

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    Yet again, Jonny Evans had another disappointing performance.  While the Northern Ireland international often seems like a strong defender against lower EPL teams, Evans consistently seems to get exploited when on the big stage. 

    Evan's poor defending was largely responsible for Benfica's goal, as he was out-muscled and out-paced by Oscar Cardozo.

    This is far from the first time United have been exploited due to Evan's mishaps.  In the future, don't be surprised to see a Jones/Smalling partnership used instead.

2. There Will Be Competition for the Starting Goalkeeping Spot

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    While he did not put in a flawless performance, Anders Lindegaard did put in a decently strong performance against one of Portugal's elite.

    Lindegaard made some impressive saves, notably the possible game-saver against Benfica's Nolito.

    The impressive start will weigh heavy in Sir Alex Ferguson's mind, especially if David De Gea fails to consistently put in strong performances.

3. Phil Jones Must Still Improve His Offensive Awareness

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    Although Phil Jones has had an awfully impressive start to his United career, and only made a substitute appearance for the Red Devils, Wednesday's match highlighted one part of the youngster's game that needs improvement. 

    Being deployed as right-back after replacing Fabio, Jones made some long runs down the right flank.  One notable run had Jones with the ball in space and a half-step in front of Benfica's Emerson.

    With his United teammates crashing the net expecting a low cross across the face of the goal, Jones instead opted to take another stride, allowing Emerson to cut off the ball, resulting in a corner kick.

    This, along with other instances highlights Jones' need in to improve offensively.  At United, full-backs are expected to contribute offensively, and passing up chances like Jones did will not be tolerated.

4. Ryan Giggs Still Has It

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    Ryan Giggs is a freak of a man.  At 37 years old, the Welshman still has the ability to light up defenses and play at the quality Manchester United demands.

    Giggs' 20-yard rocket earned the Red Devils their point on Wednesday, and the shot showed there is still power and pace behind those legs.

    Giggs almost had another if not for a leg save from Artur, after he teased the ball through the Benfica defense.

    With his goal, Giggs also became the leading British scorer and the oldest player to score in the Champions League. 

5. Benfica Coach Jorge Jesus Is the Most Animated in World Football

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    I don't think anyone will ever question this guy's passion.

    The former Braga coach took over rivals Benfica in 2009 and has enjoyed a fair amount of success at the helm of one of Portugal's top clubs.

    However, anyone who watched Wednesday's game surely noticed Jesus pacing up and down the sideline incessantly. I mean, I don't even think the guy sat down the entire match.

    It's not just his pacing that makes him the most animated, but also his consistent yelling and directing.  

    This guys passion and fire are not only refreshing, but also endlessly entertaining.