Football News

Man Utd unable to weather Galatasaray storm as Champions League dreams lie in tatters

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 19:30, 29 November 2023

Manchester United were unable to weather the Istanbul storm as they played out an entertaining 3-3 draw with Galatasaray leaving their Champions League dreams in tatters.

Erik ten Hag’s men at one point led 2-0 and 3-1 but a Hakim Ziyech-inspired performance for Cim Bom ultimately forced both sides to share the spoils much to United’s disappointment.

The record English champions now find themselves bottom of Group A one point behind second-place Galatasaray and level with third-place FC Copenhagen who visit Bayern Munich in the late kick-off. If the Danes cause an upset and beat Thomas Tuchel’s side then United will be knocked out. If the Copenhagen-Bayern game finishes in a draw, United have a chance of qualification provided they beat Bayern in the following game and the Galatasaray-Copenhagen game ends in a draw.

But they will be kicking themselves. For the second consecutive Champions League game United boasted a two-goal lead before throwing it away. However, unlike in Copenhagen, the Red Devils didn’t lose on this occasion.

Eyebrows were raised with Ten Hag opting for the more experienced Sofyan Amrabat for teenager Kobbie Mainoo who impressed against Everton last time out. It was another youngster who got the ball rolling, just like he did at Goodison Park, on Merseyside Alejandro Garnacho produced a stunning bicycle kick to break the deadlock, here it was an equally eye-pleasing effort. In doing so, Garnacho not only scored in back-to-back appearances for Man Utd for the first time, but at 19 years and 151 days, he became the youngest ever non-English player to score for them in this competition.

Before this evening Man Utd hadn’t scored in three previous Galatasaray trips. And just like London busses a second followed soon. Bruno Fernandes created Garnacho’s opener. He doubled United’s lead with an exquisite long-range effort. For the first-ever time, Fernandes scored and assisted in the same Champions League game. This also proved to be the earliest Galatasaray conceded two goals at home in the Champions League (18th min) since December 2014 v Arsenal (11th min).

That deficit was halved through a well-executed Hakim Ziyech free-kick. He follows in the footsteps of Eren Derdiyok (v Lokomotiv Moscow in September 2018) and Wesley Sneijder (v Arsenal in December 2014) as the only players to score a direct free-kick for Galatasaray in this competition. The on-loan Chelsea man once upon a time called Man Utd goalkeeper Andre Onana a teammate while playing under Ten Hag in the Dutch capital.

However, they learned from that experience with Scott McTominay restoring their advantage straight after the break. It was the Scot’s first-ever Champions League goal. His fourth strike in what’s been a redemption campaign. The same can’t be said for Onana who Ziyech beat once again from a dead ball situation. He really should have done better instead of allowing the ball to squeeze through his arms. This also meant Ziyech becomes just the fourth player ever to score two direct free-kick goals in a UEFA Champions League game, after Rivaldo against Milan in October 2000, Cristiano Ronaldo against Zürich in September 2009 and Neymar vs Crvena Zvezda in October 2018.

Ziyech capped off a player-of-the-match showcase when he turned provider for Kerem Aktürkoglu’s equaliser. Aktürkoglu is the first player to score both home and away against Manchester United in the Champions League since Cristiano Ronaldo for Real Madrid in the 2012/13 last 16 while Ziyech becomes the first Galatasaray player to be involved in three goals in a Champions League game since Burak Yilmaz against CFR Cluj in November 2012 (3 goals).