Manchester United, betrayed by its defense and its lack of confidence, collapsed against Galatasaray, beaten 3-2 in front of its Old Trafford crowd on Tuesday, further dampening its morale and its chances of qualifying for the Champions League.
The Red Devils led twice, without being able to maintain their advantage for long. And Mauro Icardi punished them in the 81st minute with the winning goal, two minutes after missing a penalty.
The team led by Erik Ten Hag, moribund in the championship, finds itself at the bottom of Group A on the continental scene, without any points scored after two days. In a group where leader Bayern Munich seems untouchable, this was the match to win, at home, against an opponent within reach.
The task is now complicated to snatch second qualifying place, held by a Galatasaray team (4 points) which will be difficult to get at home, where the atmosphere is one of the hottest in Europe.
In the meantime, the Istanbulites put a real cold spell on Manchester on Tuesday, where they took full advantage of the English excitement, particularly in defense, already so visible on national soil.
“The chances they had came from our mistakes,” admitted attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen on TNT Sports. “It’s a big disappointment,” he added, however dismissing any problem of “confidence” in the team. “It’s more a lack of sharpness, bad decisions in key moments and a bit of bad luck.”
The visitors also spoiled the evening of Rasmus Hojlund, the new center forward of the Red Devils, author of a complete performance and credited with a double tinged with power and finesse.
The recruitment of the 20-year-old Dane raised some eyebrows this summer, given the check signed at Atalanta (around 74 million euros) and his far from impressive statistics, with nine goals scored for the team from Bergamo last year.
However, despite an injury-delayed start to the season, he has made a strong impression so far in the tough Premier League, with skilful clearances, an imposing presence in the box and a promising bond with his partners.
He showed all these qualities on Tuesday, in addition to being surgical in front of goal.
Already a scorer against Bayern Munich (4-3 defeat) on the first day, he did it again with a header placed under the bar after a powerful sprint, receiving a well-balanced cross from Marcus Rashford ( 17th, 1-0).
The player revealed at FC Copenhagen, the next group opponent, put his team back in front with a small stake in the middle of the race (67th, 2-1). An offside deprived him of a third pawn, in the meantime, after a nice number in the area.
Marcus Rashford also offered himself a one-on-one in front of Muslera but the English winger, lacking success this season, preferred to make a missed pass for his partner Bruno Fernandes (53rd).
Above all, the Red Devils’ rearguard sank in the Manchester rain, between bad placements, missed clearances and lack of vigilance, a failure which did not spare Raphaël Varane. The exclusion of the Brazilian Casemiro (77th) ended up collapsing the already fragile structure of the defense.
The sixth defeat in ten matches, in all competitions, increases the pressure around Erik Ten Hag, the coach who managed to wake up the sleeping giant last season. Everything moves very quickly in football.