Champions League: Galatasaray 3 Manchester United 3
Alejandro Garnacho, Bruno Fernandes and Scott McTominay took great pleasure in silencing the home fans who spent 90 minutes trying to intimidate their visitors out of the game but an Andre Onana mistake allowed Galatasaray back in and a stunning Kerem Akturkoglu strike ensured the points were shared.
United’s Champions League hopes were up in the air at kick-off, which was also in jeopardy at one point. The Istanbul winds sent the Bosphorus crashing over its banks and the rain turned the streets into rivers and left water on the pitch but it eventually passed the test and battle commenced.
The atmosphere was deafening in the lead up to kick-off as fans unfurled numerous banners, most notably a vivid display of red and yellow to remind their visitors where they had arrived: “Welcome To Hell.”
There is only one way to silence the Galatasaray supporters and that is by scoring the opening goal. It lacked the acrobatics of Garnacho’s opener at Everton on Sunday but it relied on equal levels of composure. United had settled by the 12th minute and were able to pass the ball at speed in the final third. The move started on the right and drew in the Galatasaray defence, opening space for Garnacho at the back post where he gladly received a Fernandes pass and, despite the noise the teenage winger managed to fire the ball into the roof of the net.
The silence was brief, as home supporters launched projectiles at the celebrating players. The referee had words with Garnacho, possibly advising him that antagonising the fans by telling them to keep calm was ill-judged, but who could blame him?
On a night of hostility, it was imperative that United kept cool in the immediate aftermath of the opener. The home side were almost on level terms but Onana was alert at the front post when a corner was flicked in his direction by Lucas Torreira but it bounced off his body, and the ball was eventually cleared after two shots on the rebound were blocked.
The noise levels dropped to a whisper, except for in one corner high in the stadium, when Fernandes took possession of the ball 25 yards from goal, got it out of his feet and launched a shot with a level of aggression not seen in Istanbul since Alex Ferguson’s squad landed at the airport in November 1993.
A free-kick was given away by Fernandes, who was booked, on the edge of the box when he clipped Torreira. The former Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech stepped up and sent his shot through the wall and beyond Onana who was left unmoved.
It is a decade since Galatasaray progressed beyond the Champions League group stage and doing so would put them firmly where their fans believe they belong. Whenever the ball was in the vicinity of the United of the box the decibels reached tortuous levels and only dipped when the danger was removed.
An incredible Sacha Boey pass went over the United defence and landed perfectly at Mauro Icardi’s feet. The striker controlled it dead and rushed through on goal, drawing Onana before slotting home. The brave assistant referee put his flag up immediately and the roar became a whimper when VAR concurred, although there were only a matter of inches in it.
Rain descended throughout, joined in the skies above Rams Park by thunder and lightning in the second half. The atmosphere was intimidating and the weather conditions added an extra layer to the drama, not that United were too concerned by the parts of the match out of their control. Galatasaray threatened to level but it was McTominay that allowed United to breathe amid the pyrotechnics from the stands. Antony slipped the ball to Aaron Wan-Bissaka who fired in a low cross for McTominay to divert in.
If Onana could be questioned on the first goal, he was certainly at fault for the second as Ziyech swung a free-kick into the box. It went over everyone’s head and straight to the goalkeeper who inexplicably let the ball slip through his grasp into the net. Just when United thought they were in control, they needlessly gifted Galatasaray a way back in.
There was nothing Onana could do about the third as substitute Akturkoglu took out his frustration – and that of 50,000 Galatasaray fans – by thundering the ball into the top corner from 16 yards. His first touch was sublime and the second reflected the thunder in the skies, not that anyone could hear it amid the celebrations.
Both teams were in desperate need of the win and the action in the final quarter went from end to end. If the fans were not exhausted by their own exertions, watching the action of the pitch will have tested anyone’s mental stamina. United were creating the better chances and Fernandes came closest when he hit the post with six minutes to go But United are left requiring favours to give them any chance of making the knockout stages. – Guardian
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