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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Manchester United 2-3 Galatasaray: Reds last in Group A after embarrassing home loss

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Manchester United suffered a second straight loss at Old Trafford, and a second straight loss in UEFA Champions League group play, on Tuesday in a 3-2 defeat to Turkish side Galatasaray. The alarm bell is officially sounding now for the Reds, who will also be without Casemiro due to his red card offense denying a clear goal scoring opportunity in the second half.

The match began, as usual, witha very promising opening 20 minutes. This time that spell of play was capped with a really nice goal from Rasmus Hojlund. The Dane powerfully headed home a beautiful cross from Marcus Rashford on the right wing for 1-0, and things were looking up for United.

That lasted for about five mintues.

Galatasaray equalized through former Untied winger Wilfried Zaha, who outmuscled Diogo Dalot to loop a shot over Andre Onana on 23 minutes, fulfilling another recent trend of United following up a promising start to a match with a stupid concession.

United continued their possession play but struggled to find another solid chance before the halftime interval, where Christian Eriksen was brought on for Hannibal Mejbri. The decision brought a little more to United’s possession, but took speed and energy out of midfield. That became more important later, but for the time being it set up United well to spring an attack with space in behind.

One such chance fell for Rashford, who was clear through on goal but decided to square a pass to Bruno Fernandes for an easy tap in. Instead, Bruno was closed down by a defender before he could make contact, and Galatasaray were saved when it looked certain that Rashford would, and probably should, have scored.

The next chance came on a chance giveaway by the visitors, with Davinson Sanchez slipping while trying to receive a backwards pass. Hojlund leapt at the loose ball and rumbled forward, holding off a defender to finish past Muslera and restore United’s lead.

The joy, once again, was short-lived.

Galatasaray only needed four minutes to equalize this time, with Muhammed Kerem Aktürkoğlu pouncing on a ball played through Varane’s legs and placing the ball past Onana. It was another cutback pass which a defender, Varane, was in position to deal with and didn’t, and another capitulation after scoring by United.

That shifted momentum in the visitors’ favor and set them up well for the closing stage of the match, and it wasn’t long before they were in front of goal again. This time a giveaway by Onana set up Dries Mertens clear through on goal, and Casemiro stepped in to bring him down. It cost him and United the rest of the match, with his second yellow seeing him off and suspended for the next match, but Mauro Icardi missed from the penalty spot.

Icardi didn’t miss however from a one-on-one opportunity after finding himself clear through behind Varane and Victor Lindelof. He calmly slotted the ball past Onana that time, played onside by Sofyan Amrabat, and gave Galatasaray a lead they wouldn’t give up.

Erik ten Hag might be in trouble, because Manchester United certainly are. Another poorly handled second half with no response to conceding poor goals has left United in last place in Group A. A comeback win by Bayern Munich against FC Kobenhaven has them top with six points, Galatasaray in second with four, and United last behind the Danish side with zero points through two matches played.

Saturday brings a visit from Brentford in the Premier League, a match that feels like a must-win now or United’s spiral could get out of control.

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