Manchester United were held to a frustrating 3-3 draw away at Galatasaray on Wednesday night, slashing their chances of proceeding to the UEFA Champions League round of 16.
During the opening minutes, it was the home side that enjoyed the majority of possession, with United struggling to compose themselves as they were bombarded by boos from the hostile Galatasaray crowd.
Three minutes into the contest, Andre Onana got some goalkeeping practice in as he caught a surprise shot from distance by Dries Mertens.
Moments later, United threatened the Galatasaray goalmouth when Alejandro Garnacho’s pass made its way to Rasmus Hojlund, who was unable to capitalise on the through ball.
On the 11-minute mark, a pacy Garnacho collected a pass from Bruno Fernandes and smashed the ball into the top left corner with a perfectly-timed left-footed shot.
This is exactly the start that United needed, especially with their progression to the knockout rounds on the line.
Galatasaray hit back almost immediately, with Onana saving a Lucas Torreira shot from a corner at point-blank range to protect United’s lead.
Then, VAR brought a potential handball after the ball appeared to brush Scott McTominay’s arm.
Following a touchline review, the referee determined that there was no penalty.
With United clearly rattled, Onana made an unnecessary blunder when he sent a cross back to Galatasaray within his own defensive half.
Fortunately, he made up for his error by pouncing on the ball as Mario Icardi sprinted into the box.
Moments later, United shocked the hosts yet again, as Bruno Fernandes guided the ball from the edge of the box into the top-left corner to double his team’s lead.
After the subsequent kickoff, Mertens sent a dangerous cross into United’s box, with Onana bravely stepping out and punching the ball out of danger.
26 minutes in, Luke Shaw came close to scoring United’s third goal, but his shot strayed narrowly off target.
Following a careless Fernandes foul, Galatasaray were handed a free kick on the edge of the box.
Hakim Ziyech capitalised on his opportunity, sending the ball to the far post and out of Onana’s reach.
Questions will be asked of Onana for failing to cover the far post in favour of positioning himself behind the wall.
Following a series of deflections in United’s box, the ball fell to Wilfred Zaha, however, Harry Maguire reacted quickly enough to block his shot.
The subsequent corner found the head of Kaan Ayhan, however, Onana reacted quickly enough to save his shot from just a few yards out.
With eight minutes left to play, Fernandes sent a corner kick to Scott McTominay, however, his header sailed over the top.
In the 42nd minute, Icardi strayed inches offside as he raced behind Victor Lindelof to get on the end of a cross and bury the ball in the back of the net.
While United’s lead remained intact, they would clearly need to take this close call as a lesson of what could happen if they lose concentration as the hosts launch a spontaneous counter-attack.
As the half-time drew to a close, Erik ten Hag would surely utilise the half-time break to galvanise his players and ensure that they go into the second half focused.
Two minutes after the break, United came close to scuppering their lead in yet another Champions League outing as Ayhan beat the defence to get on the end of a cross.
Fortunately for Ten Hag’s men, the shot went into the side netting, allowing them to breathe a sigh of relief.
In the 54th minute, McTominay surged into the box to get on the end of an Aaron Wan-Bissaka pass and score United’s third goal of the evening.
After making his Premier League start against Everton last weekend, 18 year old Kobbie Mainoo made his way onto the pitch for Amrabat, while Anthony Martial came on for Rasmus Hojlund.
Yet again, Onana made an unforgivable blunder while defending a free kick.
After 61 minutes, Ziyech stepped up to take a second free kick; this time from further out than his first goal.
The ball headed directly for Onana but he failed to hold onto the ball and allowed it to bounce into the net, handing Galatasaray a second soft goal.
In the 67th minute, Ziyech tried his luck at getting a hat-trick when he whipped in a shot from the edge of the box.
This time, Onana made sure to remain alert, parrying the ball out of danger.
As has been the case throughout United’s Champions League campaign, they scuppered their lead yet again as Muhammed Kerem Aktürkoğlu slotted the ball past the near post to hand Galatasaray a long-sought-after equaliser.
Yet again, Onana proved poor as he failed to position himself well enough to prevent a goal from a tight angle.
On the 75-minute mark, Garnacho curled the ball around Ayhan to take an opportune shot on goal.
Unfortunately, his shot went inches wide.
Moments later, McTominay got himself into a prime scoring position right in front of the Galatasaray goalmouth, however, his shot was skewed wide as well.
In the 78th minute, Garnacho came off for Facundo Pellistri, while Wan-Bissaka was substituted for Diogo Dalot.
Straight off the bench, Dalot dribbled three Galatasaray players in the box and laid off the ball to Pellistri.
Had the keeper not been quick to react, the pair may have engineered a fourth United goal with their first touches of the game.
Minutes later, Pellistri cut into the box, beating several defenders only to put his effort over the top and waste yet another prime scoring opportunity.
In the final five minutes of regular time, it was end-to-end action.
After Onana saved a powerful shot from Wilfred Zaha, United launched a rapid counter-attack which ended with Fernandes taking a well-struck shot that beat the keeper but bounced off the upright.
The home side were quick to respond as Zaha took another shot, this time firing over the crossbar.
In the 88th minute, it was as if the pitch had turned into a pinball machine as a series of United shots inside the box were blocked by a resolute Galatasaray defence.
While McTominay was able to finally take a clean shot, he wasted it by shooting over the top.
On the 90-minute mark, a threatening Dalot pass into the box was intercepted by the defence.
While Pellistri was able to pick up the loose ball, his attempt was blocked, with the goalkeeper pouncing on the ball to bring United’s attack to a halt.
Ultimately, United were punished for their defensive errors and wastefulness up front as they were held to a frustrating 3-3 draw.
Now, United will need something of a miracle to qualify for the Champions League round of 16, with a victory at home against group leaders Bayern Munich essential for any chance of survival.
Starting XI: Onana, Lindelof, Amrabat, Maguire, Fernandes, Hojlund, Garnacho, Antony, Shaw, Wan-Bissaka, McTominay
Subs: Mainoo, Martial, Pellistri Dalot