Galatasaray 1 (Burak) Manchester United 0
1. An admirable performance in a tough environment. Most of the build-up to last nights match against Galatasaray revolved around Manchester United going back to “hell” – but despite the intimidating atmosphere, a youthful side played very well on the whole.
“Other than that [conceding from set piece], I was satisfied and it was a decent performance. We had some good attacking play in the first half and at that point the only trouble they gave us was from outside the box. It was a very competitive, good game.” Sir Alex Ferguson
It was the third youngest starting XI that Manchester United had put out in the Champions League and on the night, Nick Powell and Joshua King were both given Champions League debuts. The game itself was a nothing in terms of the result, with qualification already secure, and the experience of those youngsters playing a European away night is invaluable.
We played some neat football and created plenty of chances but were undone at the back by a set piece (unsurprising). Danny Welbeck in particular led the attack excellently and certainly made sure that Sir Alex Ferguson kept his options open.
2. Nick Powell. One year ago, Powell scored for Crewe Alexandra against Morecambe in League Two. Last night, he made his full Manchester United debut against Galatasaray in the Champions League.
What a 12 months it has been for the 18-year-old English midfielder and last night wasn’t simply about him making an appearance, he was one of our best players on the pitch.
For a young man making his full debut, he was remarkably composed and looked like he belonged on the big stage. He was directly involved in more or less all of Manchester United’s positive attacking play and he was extremely unlucky not to have scored on his debut when his towering header came crashing back off the underside of Galatasaray’s crossbar.
He is rightfully earning plaudits for last night and Sir Alex will be extremely pleased at what he saw. At just 18, he has got bags of potential and if his performance is anything to go by, he really could be a world class player. A great signing.
3. Phil Jones. What a welcome return to the squad he is. Considering last night was his first performance this season, I thought he did remarkably well.
After settling down in the first 15 minutes, he was typically composed with the ball and never looked rushed whilst in possession. Alongside Michael Carrick, they were pretty solid in the centre of defence and if not for a set piece, something which has haunted our defence all year, they would of got themselves a clean sheet.
The return of Phil Jones along with Chris Smalling brings a great depth back to our defensive options. Both players were superb last year when called upon and given that we are sure to have an extremely busy winter schedule as always, it is necessary to have rotation to keep everyone fit.
Hopefully, the return of both will also go towards solidifying our defence which has leaked goals all season.
4. What was the referee doing? Galatasaray played dirty last night. They were firing in tackles left, right and centre – most of which were badly timed and dangerous – yet got away with nothing more than a wag of the finger from the referee.
Felipe Melo in particular. This two footed lunge on Nick Powell within the first ten minutes went unpunished and I counted four yellow card worthy tackles that he got nothing for. It was his powering header that won the corner Galatasaray scored from when he could of, arguably, been off the pitch.
The referee obviously came with a lenient mindset in order to let what was always going to be a feisty game flow well but a line has to be drawn at some point.