Ryan Giggs
Manchester United's Ryan Giggs scores against Benfica in their Group C opener Wednesday. REUTERS

Ryan Giggs's splendid solo strike rescued a point for Manchester United as they were held 1-1 in their Champions League opener against Benfica in Lisbon.

Benfica took the lead in the 24th minute after Nicolas Gaitan's long ball found Oscar Cardozo and the Paraguayan forward's brilliant striker gave goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard no chance.

But Giggs levelled the tie three minutes before half-time with an equally well-taken finish, to extend his own record as the Champions League oldest goal-scorer.

"This is why Giggs is such a legend, why he has been one of United's best players for so many years," said United captain Patrice Evra.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson was happy to leave Portugal with a point after United keeper Lindegaard saved late on from Nolito and Gaitan.

"All in all, it was a good European night, good to watch. I thought the two goals were terrific," Ferguson told reporters.

"I thought our possession in the first half was too cautious. Once Ryan scored we played much better."