Game in a sentence
Though it was hardly convincing, Manchester United’s quest to amend last year’s disastrous performance begins on a positive note at Old Trafford.
- In what was a harrowing opening to the match, United managed to avoid a penalty against and take the lead just four minutes apart. Burak Yilmaz was clumsily cut down by Nemanja Vidic in the third minute. Referee Wolfgang Stark decided to let play continue, even though the defender’s challenge was nowhere near the ball.
- It became a double blow for the visitors minutes later after an excellent combination of passes between Robin Van Persie, Nani and Shinji Kagawa resulted in Michael Carrick’s 7th minute strike. Credit goes to Carrick, who could’ve easily gone down after Galatasaray’s keeper Fernando Muslera clipped his feet. Sidenote: can defenders stop putting their arms up for offside and play the damn ball?! How many times does this need to happen before the farce ends – seriously.
- Kagawa was special on this night, controlling play and displaying the vision that made him a star in Germany. United directed play through the Japanese international throughout the match and struggled to maintain possession when he was overlooked by his teammates.
- Galatasaray lost their leading man, Umut Bulut, in the tenth minute. He was replaced by former Bolton striker – shout out to all you wanderers – Johan Elmander. Though Bulut was missed, the visitors’ attacked with unabated tenacity. Hamit Altintop was the Turkish club’s best player on this day. The midfielder was brought down by a clumsy Carrick challenge in the box that once again went unpunished by Stark. The whistle blew with United on their back foot and troubling memories of those games against Benfica and FC Basel on full blast at Old Trafford.
- It must’ve been an enchanting pep talk from Sir Alex at the half. Once again Kagawa and Nani combined to threaten the Galatasaray goal in the early stages of the second half. Rafael would draw a penalty minutes later. Up to take the kick was Nani – wait, what? – who proceeded to do that terrible stutter step move and push the ball into the relieved hands of Muslera. Was Van Persie’s miss against Southampton – remember he scored a hat-trick in the game – really enough to take him out of consideration? Very strange.
- Speaking of Van Persie, the Dutchman had a night to forget, which was capped by a hilariously bad challenge in his own half that drew a yellow card and his substitution.
- Galatasaray’s best chance to equalize came in the 72nd minute. David de Gea made a spectacular double save on Yilmaz and then Colak to keep United ahead by one. Altintop continued to buzz but his efforts went for naught. To be fair Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck had several – and I mean several – chances to put the game out of reach in the final ten minutes.
- It wasn’t pretty, but that was to be expected. Galatasaray is Manchester United’s toughest foe in group H, thus the home side did well to collect all three points and move forward. Anyone else looking forward to that fixture in Istanbul?
1. Shinji Kagawa
2. Hamit Altintop