European Football: United in disarray as Turks end the dream: Cantona sent off as England's finest fail

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The Independent Online
Galatasaray. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

Manchester United. . . . . . . . . . . .0

(Agg 3-3; Galatasaray win on away goals)

LEAGUE CHAMPIONS they may be, but there will be no Champions' League for United, who went out of the European Cup on a night when all the drama came after the final whistle.

United's first real show of defiance came at the end, when Eric Cantona ran up to the referee and made an insulting gesture which met with an immediate flourish of the red card. As the players left the field the Frenchman and his captain, Bryan Robson, were involved in a scuffle with Turkish riot police which left Robson in need of two stitches in a gashed hand.

Alex Ferguson, the United manager, said: 'A policeman punched Cantona in the back - we have filmed evidence of that. Another one hit Robson with a shield and cut his hand.' The United manager added that the club would consider a formal protest to Uefa, but admitted that what had happened off the field had nothing to do with his team's elimination on it.

By the time Cantona incurred the referee's displeasure United's composure had long since deserted them amid a welter of bookings, for Paul Ince, Paul Parker, Steve Bruce and Roy Keane. As they had feared all along, England's finest had left themselves with too much to do when they drew the home leg of this second-round tie 3-3. The return found them unequal to the task of overcoming clever, disciplined opponents, so much so that Hayrettin, Turkey's international goalkeeper, was not required to make a save.

In truth, Galatasaray were the better side over the two legs, and the red hordes may feel Ferguson is not exactly blameless after omitting Mark Hughes, his principal striker, for a match United had to win.

The atmosphere was everything Istanbul had promised, United needing protection from a phalanx of riot shields to get on to and off the pitch. 'Welcome to Hell' proclaimed one huge banner; 'RIP Manchester United' another. Right both times. Flares, fire-crackers and the usual variety of non-combustible missiles rained down.

Out in the middle, the game was a damp squib by comparision. A draw was enough for Galatasaray and United were not good enough to deny them. The Turks would have been celebrating before half- time but for the excellence of Peter Schmeichel, who twice denied them the early goal which would have killed off the tie.

Widely regarded as the best goalkeeper in the world, the Dane burnished that reputation with two high-class saves in the same minute - the 35th. The first was marvellous, a spreading intervention to block the close-range shot with which Hakan responded to Tugay's inviting pass. The second bordered on the miraculous, poor Hakan throwing up his hands in disbelief when his firm strike from six yards brought a stunning illustration of Schmeichel's peerless reflexes.

They may have owed parity to their goalkeeper, but at half-time United were coping well enough in difficult circumstances. But without Hughes to forage and battle for possession alongside, Cantona was picked off easily by the Turks' well- staffed defence. His mounting frustration was easy to understand.

The sparkling, one-touch stuff which, in those familiar purple patches, has made United supreme in the Premiership, was conspicuous by its absence. Their passing was predictable when it needed to be inventive, inaccurate when it had to be precise.

If a straight-line runner like Roy Keane is worth pounds 3.75m, what price the imaginative Tugay? The Turkish playmaker's clever distributive skills made United's midfield men seem prosaic by comparision - a microcosm, this, of the problems besetting English football. Predominance at home is no longer a passport to success abroad.

Galatasaray (4-3-3): Hayrettin; Yusuf, Falko, Stumpf, Hamza; Suat; Tugay, Bulent, Kubilay, Hakan, Arif (Ugur, 89).

Manchester United (4-4-2): Schmeichel; Phelan (Neville, 85), Bruce, Parker, Irwin; Keane (Dublin, 84), Robson, Ince, Sharpe; Giggs, Cantona.

Referee: K Rothlisberger (Swit).

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(Photograph omitted)

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