From wonderkid to world-beater: George Best's first five seasons in photographs

9. Bagging at Benfica

9 Mar 1966: Best celebrates opening the scoring at Benfica.

United's first campaign in the European Cup since 1958 had started by easing past HJK Helsinki and Vorwarts Berlin, but things really got interesting with the quarter-final against Benfica, back under the aegis of the legendary Bela Guttman. United won an engagingly close game at Old Trafford 3-2, and Matt Busby informed his team to adopt a defensive strategy for the first 15 minutes. 

Instead, in that time Best inspired them to a 3-0 lead. First he headed home a sixth-minute free-kick, then he doubled United's lead, then John Connelly made it three on the night - and 6-2 overall. As Busby said to Best at half time, "Obviously you weren't listening." 

Any hope Benfica held after Shay Brennan's second-half own-goal was snuffed out by replies from Pat Crerand and Bobby Charlton. United had romped through to the semi-finals, 8-3 on aggregate against one of Europe's best teams, and the belief was growing that they could mark the memory of Munich by winning the European Cup at the first attempt since 1958.


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