Benfica’s 18-year-old goalkeeper Mile Svilar will remember his European debut for all the wrong reasons.
Svilar’s mistake, carrying the ball over the line after catching Marcus Rashford’s free-kick as Benfica went down 1-0 to Manchester United, was the sort of error you’d expect from a teenager in such a huge game.
The Belgian ‘keeper, who broke Iker Casillas’ record to become the youngsest ‘keeper in Champions League history, had made a string of fine saves before his mistake but, unfortunately, it’s his mistake that people will remember the most from last night’s game.
Romelu Lukaku felt the need to console his compatriot at full-time in a rather touching moment.
Jose Mourinho had informed his players about Svilar’s talent before the match but also planned to exploit his aggressive style from set pieces.
“I knew how good he was and I told the players how good he was, but we had a little bit of a strategy, especially on set pieces to try to make him uncomfortable,” Mourinho said, per the Independent.
“So in the corners we put a lot of players close to him to take his confidence for him not to come out.
“And then in free-kicks we knew he risks a lot, but only top goalkeepers risk like he does. And we were a bit lucky and he was unlucky.”
Watch: Svilar's error v Man United
Gary Lineker's tweet
Gary Lineker summed it up best on Twitter.
“The youngest goalkeeper ever to play in the Champions League just looked liked the youngest goalkeeper ever to play in the Champions League,” Lineker wrote.
Svilar's reaction is quality
And how has Svilar reacted to his mistake? It would be easy for the youngster to be down about it but his response shows a maturity that belies his years.
“I think I could have done better in the goal, but there’s nothing I can do now,” Svilar said.
“It didn’t affect me, so I am ready for this. It’s part of the growing up process, we cannot turn it back.
“My record is important but it’s just a game. In Benfica our aim is to win each match, especially in our stadium with such amazing fans with us so we cannot be glad by losing the game.
"The coach told me to play like I train, so nothing special.”
Class. With an attitude like that, Benfica boss Rui Vitoria can feel confident that his young ‘keeper will bounce back in style.
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