It should be to Manchester United's credit that they could be relaxed about last night's match in Istanbul. With the result making no difference to United's progress or position, Sir Alex Ferguson left almost all of his senior players at home.
United's youngsters worked hard but were outmuscled by a Galatasaray side with more to play for, who won thanks to Burak Yilmaz's header early in the second half. Certainly this game had more resting on it for Galatasaray than it did for United. After winning their first four games, United went into this match having already ensured first place in Group H.
It was a perfect opportunity, then, for Ferguson to give some of his younger players a taste of the unique atmosphere of the Turk Telekom Arena. Nick Powell made his first start for United at the tip of Ferguson's diamond midfield. The only slightly older Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck started too, with Phil Jones making his first appearance of the season.
For Galatasaray, though, a result was crucial to help them get through to the next round, ahead of CFR Cluj or Braga. So they started at a fierce pace, with Felipe Melo and Semih Kaya jumping into tackles for which they were fortunate to stay on the pitch. But as hard as the hosts pushed, they could not create much in the opening half. their best chance a Yilmaz header over the bar.
United, despite their youth, played with nous and intelligence. Welbeck was their most impressive player early on. A corner he won just before the break was taken by Cleverley and headed on to the bar by Powell.
Galatasaray started the second half with as much energy as they did the first but more precision. Anders Lindegaard had to save from Albert Riera from distance and Melo from closer in, the second stop bringing a crucial corner on 54 minutes. Selcuk Inan swung it in and Yilmaz rose highest to head the ball in.
With their team ahead, the home fans really urged on their team, who responded with more attacks. But this gave United chances to break, Javier Hernandez and Welbeck both going close. In the dying minutes Hamit Altintop went even closer for Galatasaray.
- More about:
- Albert Riera
- Danny Welbeck
- Galatasaray SK
- Javier Hernandez
- Manchester United
- Premier League
- Sir Alex Ferguson
- Tom Cleverley