Three-time European Cup / UEFA Champions League winners Manchester United were in cruise control for their Matchday 5 fixture win against Turkish Süper Lig’s Galatasaray S.K. at RAMS Park yesterday, but a series of high-profile mistakes from new starting goalkeeper André Onana meant Manchester United blow multiple two-goal leads away, drawing the game ultimately with a score line of 3-3. The dropped points in a must-win match for Manchester United forced the team to continue to stay at the bottom of Group A in the European club football competition with only one game remaining in the group stage.
United Had a Couple of Two-Goal Leads, But to No Avail
Having secured their fifth league win in six matches last time around, Manchester United established a quick two-goal lead in the opening 18 minutes of the first half, courtesy of their new starboy Alejandro Garnacho and captain Bruno Fernandes. The young Argentine, who shocked the entire world with his mesmerising overhead kick against Everton last weekend, followed up with a left-footed close-ranged strike that found the top left corner in the 11th minute, and his subsequent celebrations caused chaos among the home crowds. Manchester United captain Fernandes would go on to unleash a thumping shot from a far distance seven minutes later, and the strike ended in the back of the net the same way as the first goal.
The first-half scoring spree did not end with two goals scored by Erik ten Hag’s men, as former Chelsea player Hakim Ziyech pulled one back for Galatasaray S.K. just before the half hour mark, when his free kick was mistimed by the opposing goalkeeper Onana and went into the Manchester United goal. The opening 45 minutes of this thrilling Champions League matchup ended with a score line of 2-1 to the visitors’ advantage.
After play was resumed in the following half, Manchester United restored their two-goal cushion, this time via midfielder Scott McTominay. Several players were involved in this attacking play that started from the back, with Sofyan Amrabat picking up the ball from Onana, before the Moroccan found McTominay with his pass. The 26-year-old Lancaster-born player then gave it away to Antony, who dribbled all the way to enemy territory, followed by finding his right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka. The fit-again England international made no mistakes with his delivery and fed McTominay for his fourth goal in 14 appearances in all competitions of the season.
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Galatasaray S.K. Scored Twice in 10 Minutes to Bag a Valuable Point
The Manchester United camp may have thought they have brought home all three points in this crucial continental cup game, but the home side had different ideas in the remaining of the match by scoring two goals in quick succession to level things up. The second goal from Galatasaray S.K. came from another mistake by Onana, when he could not get a hold of another soft free kick set piece from Ziyech, and the Cameroonian stood no chance in saving substitute Muhammed Kerem Aktürkoğlu’s equaliser.
The 25-year-old attacker, who came on at the hour mark, received a perfect through ball by Ziyech, and he controlled it well, followed by a superb strike past Onana, leading questions being asked towards the shot stopper’s positioning. Aktürkoğlu’s strike meant the game were ending all square with three goals each to the teams, and Manchester United missed their vital chance to go second in Group A with a win.
Ten Hag Remained Optimistic Despite Onana’s Mistakes and Questionable Lineup and Tactics
The Red Devils‘ manager ten Hag had this to say during the post-match conference of the frustrating 3-3 draw: “We scored also quickly after each other. It’s about the point when you are leading, when you are 2-0 up and you have to manage the game. Not so easy. We give free-kicks away and we have to defend them better twice. In such areas, we have to be in more control. It is always about incidents, always about details and some incidents we can manage better. As a team, we have to learn from it because we are conceding too many goals and it is unnecessary and avoidable.”
The 53-year-old also added: “What is enjoyable is the progress we have and the way we play football. We dictated the game, we scored so many goals – it was about plan, creativity, being proactive and brave. That makes me happy. I think as a team we played very well. We win and lose together. You see the progress in this team. I take many positives from this game. Some mistakes. We played like I want my team to play. It was enjoyable to watch that proactive, dynamic, brave and we scored great goals. Even after we had some setbacks, we kept going until the end and we should have won with big chances from Scott McTominay and (Facundo) Pellistri.”
Ten Hag ended his statement by saying “Of course, I am disappointed because we should have managed the game better, we will learn from that. Because this team is in development. This team is good, all the players in the squad are good and deserve the best to play for Manchester United because they are brilliant players. And that counts for the whole squad. It would be more frustrating if we play poor. But the performance is very good, it is enjoyable to watch how we dictate the game, how we create chances, that is actually fantastic. But now there is more, if you can sort better the management of the game out then you start playing football”.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 29, 2023
How Can Manchester United Qualify to the Champions League Last 16?
Manchester United are currently sitting at the bottom of Group A with only 4 points, and they will face the already-qualified Bayern Munich, who drew F.C. Copenhagen goalless in their own match, in the final group match of this season’s Champions League a fortnight later, with only a win in that game and a draw between F.C. Copenhagen and Galatasaray S.K. in theirs can allow ten Hag’s men make it into the next phase of the competition.
But such a situation is certainly nothing like what everyone had predicted at the start of the campaign, since both the Bavarians and the Red Devils are traditional giants in European club football competition, and the latter should have joined the former in progressing into the knockout round of the tournament at this stage, indicating that a poor season is on the cards for the 20-time English champions.
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