FC UNITED 0, SL BENFICA B 1
It was a night of celebration for FC United as the non-league team officially opened their new £6.5million Broadhurst Park ground with a visit of Portuguese giants Benfica.
Ten years after the formation of the Rebels, formed by Manchester United fans disillusioned with the Glazer family regime at Old Trafford, the club finally found a home in the city.
After a nomadic existence at places like Bury, Stalybridge and Ashton, it was a case of the club coming home to Moston to a 5,000 capacity stadium.
And it is very much a fan-owned club as the 4,217 members all have a say in the running of the club. It is their club with supporters raising £2.8m towards the new ground.
The opening of the new ground was perfectly timed as it coincided with the club’s fourth promotion in its short history as a crowd of 4,232 gathered for the momentous occasion.
They have risen from the first division of the North West Counties League to Vanarama Conference North, only two promotions from a place in the Football League which is their ultimate goal.
And it was also fitting that Benfica, another fan-owned club, should provide the opposition for the opening match. They also were the opponents Manchester United overcame in the 1968 European Cup final at Wembley.
But the Portuguese side failed to read the script as they won 1-0 through a late goal from Diogo Goncalves.
Benfica came within inches of taking an early lead when defender Vitalii Lystcov headed against the crossbar from a corner.
Tom Greaves ought to have scored FC United’s first goal at their new home when Tom Greaves burst clean through and rounded keeper Miguel Santos only to delay his shot as Lystcov made a vital block.
The second half saw Callum Byrne forced a good save from substitute keeper Thierry Graca while for Benfica replacement Hildeberto Pereira fired into the side netting when clean through while Goncalves saw his goalbound effort headed off the line by Scott Cheetham.
And it was the dangerous Goncalves who broke the deadlock with nine minutes left with a low shot past former Manchester United keeper Nick Culkin who had just replaced David Carnell.