More Pressure On Solskjaer As Unbeaten Away Run Ends

Manchester United suffered a second defeat in a row in all competitions as they fell to a 2-1 loss against Istanbul Basaksehir.

Manchester United saw their 18-match unbeaten away run come to an end as they lost 2-1 to Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League on Wednesday.

 

Hoping for a response to Sunday’s Premier League defeat at home to Arsenal, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer instead watched his side fall behind to a Demba Ba goal in Istanbul that came after the veteran striker was given the freedom of the United half to run forward and score.

Edin Visca made it 2-0 from more haphazard defending, doubling the tally of goals scored by Basaksehir in this competition.

Anthony Martial headed in a response but the visitors offered scant real threat in the second half, as their 100 per cent start to the group stage ended.

United started strongly but fell behind when a long Visca clearance allowed Ba to stride unchallenged into the visitors’ half and slot past Dean Henderson, who was making his Champions League debut.

 

The hosts seemed only too happy to sit back as United failed to pick their way through, and they pounced on a chance to make it 2-0. Deniz Turuc robbed Juan Mata of possession, drilled the ball across the box and, after Ba let it run into space, Visca blasted past Henderson.

 

United responded swiftly this time, Luke Shaw’s cross picking out Martial to steer a header beyond the reach of Fehmi Mert Gunok with his side’s first effort on target.

 

Bruno Fernandes tested Gunok with a free-kick but still United laboured to break down the Basaksehir back line, prompting Solskjaer to introduce Edinson Cavani and Paul Pogba from the bench.

 

Mason Greenwood soon followed, but none could breach the Turkish champions, who have reignited their chances of progressing from the Group H, thanks largely to Alexandru Epureanu hooking a loose ball off the line in injury time.

 

What does it mean? Group H wide open as United’s travel charm wears off

 

Solskjaer’s side had gone unbeaten on the road since losing at Liverpool in January and this was not the game where most predicted that run would end.

 

They stay on the six points accrued from wins over Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig, either of whom could match that tally with a victory on Wednesday.

 

With just three points separating all four teams, qualification from this group suddenly looks difficult to call.

 

Rafael excels against old employers

 

Rafael had been looking forward to facing his old club and he played like a man determined to make an impression.

 

He made a match-high six tackles and also had two blocks, 13 contested duels and 78 touches of the ball – all of which were the most of any home player.

 

United undone by familiar frustrations

 

This was another example to add to the lengthy list of teams to sit deep and keep United comfortably at bay, the Red Devils turning two thirds of the possession into two shots on target.

 

At the back, the imbalance in covering for the attackers cost them a calamitous opening goal against and an easily avoidable second, which gave Basaksehir a lead they held comfortably.

 

Key Opta Stats: A first for Martial

– In his 32nd Champions League appearance, Martial’s goal meant he has scored in back-to-back games in the competition for the first time.

– Including qualifiers, this was only Başaksehir’s second win in nine Campions League matches (D2 L5), also beating Club Brugge in qualifying for the 2017-18 competition.

– United have lost four of their last six away matches at Turkish opposition in all competitions (W2), including each of their last three.

– Ba (35 years, 163 days) became the second-oldest African player to score a Champions League goal, behind only Didier Drogba, who was 36 years and 259 days old when he scored in November 2014.

– Visca was the first player to both score and assist in a single Champions League game against United since Arjen Robben for Bayern Munich in April 2014.

– He was also the first to score and assist for a Turkish side in a match in the competition since Drogba did so for Galatasaray against Juventus (October 2013).

 

What’s next?

 

With more pressure on Solskjaer, United head to Everton on Saturday for their final match before the international break. Basaksehir host Genclerbirligi on Sunday.

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