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Saturday, October 16, 2021

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Young Boys 2-1 Manchester United: 10-man Reds collapse late in Champions League opener

Manchester United kicked off their UEFA Champions League campaign by succumbing to a humiliating 2-1 defeat at the hands of Swiss champions BSC Young Boys after a ‘slippery’ performance, to put it mildly.

The Reds had set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Donny van de Beek was handed his first start of the season alongside Fred in United’s double pivot. The midfield would often shift into a three with Paul Pogba dropping deeper from his wide left role.

Cristiano Ronaldo, the competition’s all-time leading goalscorer, made his 177th Champions League appearance, tying Iker Casillas for the most appearances in the competitiion. He capped off this momentous occasion by netting his 135th goal in the competition after compatriot Bruno Fernandes laid an inch-perfect outside-of-the-foot cross from the right in the 13th minute.

Ronaldo got away from his marker, got on the end of the pass before getting a decent connection to put it through David von Ballmoos’ legs despite his best efforts to obstruct it. Von Ballmoos will be disappointed to have let that in as the shot wasn’t hit with much power and just sneaked past the goal line before he could retrieve it.

The Swiss Champions had the better of the chances in the first half despite United sharing the lion’s share of possession. Meschack Elias had provided a threat early on with a scuffed shot with his weaker left foot after stealing the ball from United’s slightly frail midfield pivot.

The game then spiralled into a nightmare for the Reds when Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s clumsy lunge saw his studs meet the feet of Christopher Martins in the 35th minute. The right-back was fairly sent off for his dangerous challenge.

Diogo Dalot then came in for new signing Jadon Sancho, who has made a slow start by his high standards. United saw off the half but not before Christian Fassnacht had a fantastic chance to equalize after finding himself free on the back post on the left-hand side.

Solskjaer made a change at half-time by taking Donny van de Beek off for Rapahel Varane. United shifted to a back-5 and completely ceded possession. The pressure was mounting as Young Boys took a foothold of the game and were rewarded for swarming the box when dangerman Meshack Elias slipped in a pass from the right for Moumi Ngamaleu to tap it in. The cross made its way past the United rear guard after getting a deflection on its way.

Solskjaer then substituted Cristiano Ronlado and Bruno Fernandes in the 72nd minute for Nemanja Matic and Jesse Lingard. United did not see much of Matic’s composure or Lingard’s industry as there was no real outball as United kept dropping further back.

Solskjaer made his final sub with Anthony Martial coming on for Fred.

Just when it looked like the worst was over and United could just call it an off day, Theosen Jordan Siebatchu was alert to Jesse Lingard’s back pass in the final seconds of added time and comfortably slid the ball into the back of the net to twist the dagger further.

It was an abject display and Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer will be facing the hear again. The doubts about his pedigree as a Manchester United manager will only resurface this week. He’s unlikely to gain any sympathy after assembling a squad full of superstars to avoid losses of this kind.

United travel to the London Stadium to face a sturdy West Ham side on Sunday and they’ll need a reaction soon.

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