Galatasaray fightback puts toothless Manchester United on brink of Champions League exit

Manchester United's Antony reacts at the end of their Uefa Champions League Group A match against Galatasaray at Ali Sami Yen Spor Kompleksi in Istanbul. Photo: Yasin Akgul/AFP

Manchester United's Antony reacts at the end of their Uefa Champions League Group A match against Galatasaray at Ali Sami Yen Spor Kompleksi in Istanbul. Photo: Yasin Akgul/AFP

Published Nov 29, 2023


Manchester United are on the brink of elimination from the Champions League after twice blowing a two-goal lead to draw 3-3 at Galatasaray on Wednesday.

A point leaves the Red Devils still bottom of Group A and needing to beat Bayern Munich in their final match at Old Trafford to have any chance of qualifying.

Even victory over the German champions will not be enough if Galatasaray beat FC Copenhagen in two weeks' time or the Danish champions take at least four points from their final two matches.

United have won just one of their five Champions League games this season and will reflect on another tale of missed opportunities and costly errors from goalkeeper Andre Onana.

Alejandro Garnacho scored one of the all-time great Premier League goals with a stunning overhead kick to put United on course to victory at Everton on Sunday.

The Argentine's opener was less spectacular but still impressive as he rifled into the roof of the net from Bruno Fernandes' pass after just 11 minutes.

A huge banner unfurled before kick-off said "Welcome to Hell" but the vociferous Galatasaray crowd were silenced by a United second inside 20 minutes.

Fernandes produced a powerful, dipping strike from outside the box that left Fernando Muslera helpless.

United's five Champions League games this season have produced 26 goals.

Yet, failing to hold onto leads has been a recurring failing from Erik ten Hag's side.

Twice Galatasaray came from behind at Old Trafford to secure their first Champions League away win for 10 years and they opened the door to the Turkish giants once more.

Fernandes was guilty of conceding a needless free-kick on the edge of his own box.

But Onana must bear the bulk of the blame as he was too easily wrong-footed by his former Ajax teammate Hakim Ziyech, who fired into the bottom corner.

Mauro Icardi scored the winner when the sides last met and the Argentine was only denied an equaliser before half-time due to the tightest of margins for offside.

United looked to have restored order at the start of the second period when Scott McTominay regained their two-goal cushion.

Fernandes led a clinical counter-attack as he fed Aaron Wan-Bissaka down the right and his cross picked out McTominay to slide in his first Champions League goal.

However, United were again pegged back by another glaring error from their goalkeeper.

Onana earned his move to the Premier League off the back of excelling for Inter Milan on their run to last season's Champions League final.

But the Cameroonian has repeatedly made errors for the Red Devils in Europe and Ziyech's second was arguably the worst of the lot.

The Moroccan's free-kick was straight at Onana, who only conspired to punch the ball into his own net.

To rub salt into United wounds, it inspired another Galatasaray fightback.

Kerem Akturkoglu's perfect control and deadly accurate finish flew past Onana at his near post to level 19 minutes from time.

United should still have emerged victorious as they picked the hosts off at will on the counter-attack but failed to take a raft of chances.

Garnacho, McTominay and Facundo Pellestri all fired promising openings off target.

Fernandes then struck the post with another wonderful strike from long range.

But United could also have lost and been mathematically eliminated on the night when Wilfried Zaha fired too close to Onana.