Onana Keeps Manchester United’s Champions League Dreams Alive as Bayern Munich Top Group A
As Europe’s elite returned for another round of Champions League action, Group A sparked into life with Manchester United battling to a 1-0 win over FC Copenhagen and Bayern Munich ending Galatasaray’s unbeaten streak, defeating them 3-1.
Redemptive wins and unmerited losses painted the scintillating picture of Champions League match week three.
Simply relying on the scores at Old Trafford or the Turk Telecom Arena leaves the twists and turns of each game untold. Unexpected heroes emerged and unrewarded dominance ultimately fell flat.
United cling onto qualification with slim Copenhagen win
In their first home game since the passing of the great Sir Bobby Charlton, United needed a win not only to reroute their season but also to honour a legend.
Tributes in the form of flowers and written messages populated the Holy Trinity statute outside Old Trafford, made up of the World Cup winning Englishman, the infamous George Best, and Denis Law. Additionally, before kick-off, a wreath was laid down by manager Erik ten Hag followed by a minute of silence – a fitting tribute to the lasting memory of Sir Bobby Charlton.
After a moment of reflection for Manchester United it was FC Copenhagen who were first off the mark, in the second minute. Mohamed Elyounoussi stole possession from the United defence to then drive down the flank and deliver a cross to Diogo Gonçalves, whose shot grazed the post – a stark reminder to Manchester United of their own fragility and FC Copenhagen’s threatening set up to play on the counter.
United dawdled through the remaining 45 minutes of the first half. Their best chance came from an in-swinging Marcus Rashford pass from the left into the path of Rasmus Højlund however, the Dane blazed the chance over against his former club.
Despite being a must win game, Manchester United lacked urgency which prompted the introduction of another Dane – Christian Eriksen.
Coming on for Sofyan Amrabat, Eriksen slotted in alongside Scott McTominay who was moved to a deeper, holding role and boosted United’s attacking output immediately. Making a late run into the box after Marcus Rashford crossed from the byline, the United no.14 almost broke the deadlock in Manchester United’s favour but had is shot comfortably saved.
Nevertheless, Eriksen was involved in the United’s eventual opener, crossing from deep onto the head of former captain Harry Maguire, who bulldozed his header into the back of the net.
The England international had openly talked about the abuse he had received at Manchester United but showed extraordinary character having bounced back with a Man of the Match performance against Sheffield United and an immense goal on a momentous occasion.
Erik ten Hag aimed to calm the game and see the vital three points out at Old Trafford. Nonetheless, the Champions League script writers had other plans heading into additional time.
A last-ditch FC Copenhagen corner resulted in some defensive confusion and referee Marco Guida blew for a penalty against the inform McTominay. In the referee’s opinion, the Scots’ high boot posed as dangerous play against Elyounoussi who was also vying for the ball.
The penalty was confirmed, and a must win game for Manchester United seemed at the mercy of Jordan Larsson in the 94th minute. Cue the second redemptive moment of the tie.
Andre Onana’s outreaching right hand clutched the victory, as the Cameroonian correctly dived to his left and parried Larsson’s penalty kick wide, much to the euphoria of Old Trafford.
Critics silenced and the debt of earlier Champions League blunders repaid in what will be a moment that keeps Manchester United’s Champions League hopes alive and kicking.
DubSport Player of the Match: In a DubSports first, this award is being split between both Harry Maguire and Andre Onana. Inevitably, some will be annoyed at this indecision but the pivotal goal and immense penalty save respectively provided two huge lifelines for the Red Devils. Two hugely scrutinised players, two redemptive moments when it mattered most.
Manchester United: Onana; Dalot, Varane, Maguire, Reguilón (Lindelöf 63′); Amrabat (Eriksen 45′), McTominay; Antony (Garnacho 63’), Fernandes, Rashford, Højlund (Martial 86′).
FC Copenhagen: Grabara; Ankersen, Vavro, Diks, Jelert (Sørensen 77′); Lerager, Falk, Cupido, Gonçalves (Larsson 85′), Elyounoussi; Claesson (Óskarsson 76′), Achouri (Højlund 90+1′).
A lacklustre Bayern get the job done in Istanbul
The German champions went into this match up on a 36-game unbeaten streak in the Champions’ League Group Stages and hoped to make it 37 against the only Turkish side to experience European glory.
Nonetheless, this Galatasaray side were on a hot streak of their own; going unbeaten in their domestic league and fresh with confidence from the mammoth win over Manchester United. Something obviously had to give as an unstoppable force met an immovable object.
The tension mounting in the Turk Telecom Arena was broken with the first Bayern Munich attack. Jamal Musiala expertly spun his man to create a dangerous Bayern counter attack, finished off routinely by Kingsley Coman in the seventh minute.
Galatasaray’s young left back, Kazımcan Karataş, on his Champions League debut, gave Coman a clear one-on-one with the goalkeeper, having dived in recklessly and unable to successfully win the ball.
Despite the early deficit, Galatasaray’s press and attacking chances did not dry up. Kerem Aktürkoğlu stretched goal keeper Sven Ulreich with an acrobatic effort before the Turkish side were awarded a penalty for a crunching tackle on Mauro Icardi in the 27th minute.
Karataş redeemed his early mistake, cutting the ball back into Mauro Icardi’s path before he was sandwiched by Joshua Kimmich and Kin Min-Jae. In classic Icardi fashion, a Panenka penalty equalised the game and added another goal to his 14 across all competitions.
Galatasaray, energised by the goal and their fanatical fans, pushed further with strong chances for Icardi and Aktürkoğlu. Nonetheless, the hosts could not capitalise going into half time, an opportunity they would go onto regret.
The second half told a similar story of Galatasaray domination and spoiled chances up until the 73rd minute. Harry Kane, who had been isolated and quiet all game, poached a scruffy goal created by a Musiala low driven cross.
Only five minutes later more Kane and Musiala link up play resulted in Bayern’s third of the game. Kane, having made a darting run into the left channel, teed up Musiala for a calm finish past Fernando Muslera into the bottom right corner.
The quality of Thomas Tuchel’s side shone through on a Champions League night which honestly could have swung either way.
Dubsports Player of the Match: Whilst Bayern were not at their best, Musiala remained a beacon of creativity. Having a hand in all three goals and crucially the assist for Bayern’s second meant his quality was the differentiating factor between the two sides.
Galatasaray: Muslera; Boey, Sánchez, Bardakci, Karataş (Angelino 75′); Ayhan (Ndombélé 80′), Torreira, Tetê (Mertens 56′), Aktürkoglu (Yilmaz 75′); Zaha (Ziyech 75′), Icardi.
Bayern Munich: Ulreich; Mazraoui (Sarr 78′), de Ligt, Kim Min-Jae, Davies; Kimmich, Laimer, Coman (Tel 83′), Musiala, Sané; Kane (Choupo-Moting 83′).
Bayern may have one foot in the next stage of the Champions League but Galatasaray, Manchester United and FC Copenhagen all look capable of claiming that second qualifying position if results go their way.
Be sure to catch the Dubsports reaction to the reverse fixtures taking place on the 8th of November.