Match report as Onana misjudges two Hakim Ziyech free-kicks after early goals from Alejandro Garnacho and Bruno Fernandes; Scott McTominay struck in second half as United looked primed for crucial Group A win but Kerem Akturkoglu's stunner means they remain in bottom place
Thursday 30 November 2023 06:01, UK
Two Andre Onana errors and a thunderous strike from Kerem Akturkoglu on a stormy night in Istanbul left Manchester United's Champions League hopes hanging by a thread as they twice blew two-goal advantages to draw 3-3 at Galatasaray.
United must now beat Bayern Munich on the final matchday and hope the Turkish side draw at FC Copenhagen to qualify for the knockout phase. The Danes, who drew 0-0 in Munich later on Wednesday, could have knocked them out with victory over the German champions.
Erik ten Hag's side had looked on course to escape from this wet and wild encounter with a crucial victory with 20 minutes to play but sub Akturkoglu - a goalscorer at Old Trafford last month - hammered home an equaliser to the delight of the home fans, who had created an incredible noise throughout.
The visitors had only themselves to blame, though, with Onana at fault for both Hakim Ziyech free-kick goals before Anthony Martial and Facundo Pellistri wasted last-gasp chances to win it after Bruno Fernandes had hit a post.
United are now relying on other results on the final day after FC Copenhagen drew 0-0 at Bayern Munich.
They need to win their final Group A game at home to Bayern and hope the result in the other game ends in a draw.
This was a Champions League classic. Torrential rain earlier in the day had threatened the fixture but conditions were deemed playable and the two sides threw off the shackles to serve up a thriller in a deafeningly loud, hostile atmosphere in Istanbul.
'Welcome to Hell' read the infamous Galatasaray slogan but United were in heaven inside 18 minutes, with Alejandro Garnacho and Fernandes firing them ahead. They were the first goals United had ever scored away to Galatasaray - but there was no feeling of comfort or confidence in this environment.
The home side, roared on, fought back. Onana had earlier made a superb reflex save, which was backed up by Harry Maguire's goal-line clearance, but his performance will be remembered for two bad mistakes. The first saw him wrong-footed on the half-hour when he tried to anticipate where Ziyech's set-piece would go.
Mauro Icardi then looked to have levelled just before half-time but an automated offside revealed he was just an inch or two ahead of play.
The barrage continued after the break, with United's side-netting struck just two minutes on from the restart - but Scott McTominay's conversion on the counter gave Erik ten Hag's side their cushion again. Briefly. Onana's second mistake wasn't long coming, with the keeper fumbling Ziyech's latest free-kick into his own net after it came through a crowd of bodies. This was an even bigger blunder.
It gave Galatasaray the platform to push for a third and they got it through Akturkoglu's wonder strike. United's late charge almost saw them grab a spectacular win but they now need something special to happen on the final matchday for their Champions League campaign to continue.
United remain bottom of Group A on four points, a point behind Galatasaray and Copenhagen, and nine off home-and-hosed Bayern.
Man Utd manager Erik ten Hag speaking to TNT Sports:
"We are winning and then we are losing. We should have taken three points. This is the same in more games - home against Galatasaray and away in Copenhagen.
"We played so good. So I have to make a compliment to my team but I also have to criticise the team and us as a coaching staff and me as a manager.
"We are not defending well enough, we are leading 3-1 and you can't afford such mistakes because it makes a difference. These mistakes can't happen. In the Champions League you will get punished and we have to learn from that."
Garnacho once again produced the early breakthrough for United. His lashed left-foot strike from inside the box here wasn't as sensational as his overhead against Everton in the Premier League on Sunday but it was perhaps even more important, given the perilous position of United in Group A.
Rasmus Hojlund returned from injury to replace Anthony Martial in the starting line-up as one of four changes from Sunday’s win over Everton. Antony was also back, replacing the suspended Marcus Rashford. Sofyan Amrabat and Aaron Wan-Bissaka also came in, with Kobbie Mainoo and Diogo Dalot dropped to the bench.
Referee Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez had to warn the Argentina youngster after he hushed the baying home fans in celebration. Those Galatasaray supporters were infuriated again when penalty appeals for handball against Scott McTominay were turned down soon after.
With the game swinging from end-to-end, Fernandes fired a stunner into the top corner for United's second. It was a super strike but even a two-goal advantage didn't feel secure in this hostile environment and so it proved, with Ziyech's low free-kick deceiving Onana, who wrongly expected an effort up and over his wall and ended up conceding on the side of the goal he should have been protecting.
A rapid counter-attack led to McTominay putting Man Utd 3-1 up 10 minutes into the second half, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka lightening down the flank before crossing for the Scot to slide in. But once again Onana handed Galatasaray a way back into the game, failing to clasp Ziyech's firm free-kick. Akturkoglu's fantastic touch and finish levelled the scores - and it had felt like it was coming.
Still United had moments to win it. Fernandes was inches away from scoring another long-range rocket when he hit the woodwork. Martial dithered as he looked set to finish from close range. Pellestri was crowded out amid some desperate defending. But on a night when they scored their first ever goal away to these opponents there wasn't to be a fourth.
Manchester United are back in Premier League action away to Newcastle United on Saturday; kick off 8pm. Erik Ten Hag's side complete their Champions League group stage campaign at home to Bayern Munich on December 12; kick off 8pm.