The first half passed without incident, but, eight minutes into the second half, Bobby Charlton opened the scoring for Manchester United with a rare headed goal. However, the lead only lasted for 22 minutes before Jaime Graça scored for Benfica. The score remained at 1–1 until the end of normal time, forcing the match into extra time, but it might not have ended that way had Alex Stepney not made a crucial save when one-on-one with Eusébio.
The temperature was clearly playing a part in the players' fitness, and Benfica's players were clearly flagging when George Best put United in the lead again three minutes into extra time. Picking up the ball 25 yards from goal after the Benfica players failed to deal with Stepney's long kick downfield, Best broke into the penalty area and dribbled round the goalkeeper and rolled the ball into an empty net. Brian Kidd, who was celebrating his 19th birthday, added United's third a minute later, before Charlton rounded off the scoring before 100 minutes had been played.
United were without their high scoring forward Denis Law, who was sidelined with a knee injury and watched the match on television while in hospital.
United's win meant that they became the first English team to win the European Cup, just a year after Celtic had become the first British team to do so. The win also marked the culmination of Manchester United's ten years of rebuilding after the 1958 Munich air disaster, in which eight players had been killed and manager Matt Busby had been left fighting for his life. Captain Bobby Charlton and Bill Foulkes who had both survived the crash played in the game.