Pat Crerand then Bill Foulkes scored within the first 10 minutes, too, and Best completed the first-half carnage with a thrilling individual run and shot.
A Denis Law penalty and then a valedictory shot high into the net for the Scot’s second secured the points, the title and entry into the European Cup. It had been a magnificent display of team football by a side about to enter immortality.
2) Manchester United 4 Benfica 1
European Cup final, 29 May 1968
Part of Best’s greatness was his sense of theatre: on the biggest stage, he became the greatest star. In the match that everyone knew might ensure the legend of both Matt Busby and United, Best offered the night and the club one of its defining moments. The sight of him turning away from the Wembley goal having flashed the ball home in the first half of extra-time has become one of the best-known images in the club’s history.
Up until that minute, the game had been an ordinary one. It was a hot early summer night on a large pitch, and following a scrappy first half, Bobby Charlton’s header looked set to give United a narrow win before Jaime Graca equalised with 10 minutes left.
Before extra time began Matt Busby told his players to keep the ball more, and for once George took his advice to heart. Accepting Brian Kidd’s pass, he nutmegged one defender and eased around the goalkeeper Henrique. Benfica were broken by a few seconds of brilliance, and Kidd and Charlton put United out of sight before the first 15-minute period was up.
Soon afterwards, at the age of just 22, George Best was voted European Footballer of the Year, the youngest man ever to win the poll. The world was at his feet.
1) Benfica 1 United 5
European Cup quarter-final, 9 March 1966