Istanbul 2 Man Utd 1: Sloppy Red Devils stunned as Demba Ba pops up to end strong Champions League start
MANCHESTER UNITED'S dismal Premier League form carried over into Europe as they crashed to a humiliating Champions League defeat against the Group H whipping boys.
This was every bit as depressing as their 1-0 home defeat to Arsenal on Sunday and his latest shocker is certain to pile the pressure on United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who took a big gamble by making six changes.
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He could hardly have been expected to field an unchanged side after that dismal showing, but his line-up here still smacked of over-confidence.
Basaksehir had hardly managed a shot, let alone a goal, in their two previous Champions League encounters, going down 2-0 to both RB Leipzig and Paris Saint-Germain – teams United had swept aside in their opening games.
But it took the Turkish side just 12 minutes to open their account here, with the entire United defence deserving an assist as 35-year-old Demba Ba ran half the length of the field before scoring.
And Edin Vasca took advantage of more non-existent defending to make it 2-0, before Antony Martial’s strike gave United false hope of saving face.
Ba took his goal with some aplomb, although even he must have been surprised to find himself in acres of space near the halfway line, as he latched onto Visca’s long clearance from a United corner.
Nemanja Matic was the closest player to Ba but he could not close the gap as the Senegal striker chested the ball down, cut infield, and coolly rolled it past Dean Henderson as he charged off his line.
The United back four looked accusingly at each other as Henderson picked the ball out of the net.
And United could not pretend they did not know what a threat Ba can pose, even though he is in the twilight of his career.
During his Newcastle days he scored against them in both matches of the 2011-12 season, and the following season he got the only goal when Chelsea knocked United out in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
And who could ever forget the way he took advantage of Steven Gerrard’s slip to score the goal that denied Liverpool the Premier League title six years ago?
With the visitors’ defence continuing to look a complete shambles – despite Harry Maguire’s pre-match insistence the squad was full of leaders – Basaksehir clearly scented blood.
They should have been two up after 33 minutes when Boli Bolingoli was allowed to race unchallenged down the left flank, before picking out Danijel Aleksic with a pinpoint cross.
The Serbian player had been left unmarked – surprise, surprise – just eight yards from goal, but he directed his downward header straight at a relieved Henderson.
It proved a short-lived reprieve. Five minutes before the beak the Turkish side scored a superb second goal, and again they exploited the fact right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka seemed to have no support on his flank.
This time it was Deniz Turuc who curled the ball in, and a lovely step-over from Ba completely flummoxed the United defence, allowing Visca to smash the ball past the despairing Henderson.
United needed to respond – and quickly. And that is exactly what they did, thanks to a clever bit of trickery from Luke Shaw.
He skipped over the challenge of former United favourite Rafael – who had earlier distinguished himself with a brave block to smother an effort from Martial – and took a quick look up before delivering his cross.
Martial had drifted between the two Basaksehir central defenders and made no mistake with a firm downward header.
That 42nd-minute strike could not cover United’s shortcomings, and Solskjaer decided reshuffle his side at half time.
He sent on Scott McTominay at the start of the second-half, with Nemanja Matic switching from a holding midfield role to slot in alongside Maguire in place of Axel Tuanzebe, who had looked the most nervous of the United back four.
And there were a couple more changes just after the hour, with Paul Pogba replacing Donny van de Beek and Edinson Cavani on in place of the ineffective Juan Mata.
But those changes failed to inject added impetus to the United efforts.
Their only worthwhile attempt at goal came from a Bruno Fernandes free kick, which beat the defensive wall but arrived at a good height for Mert Gunok to fist the ball away.
It was hard to know whether Pogba was trying to shoot or cross the ball when he hooked it high over the far post – but that seemed typical of a hopelessly disjointed United display.
There was another double change on 77 minutes with Mason Greenwood and Timothy Fosu-Mensah getting a run at the expense of Marcus Rashford and Wan-Bissaka.
It smacked of desperation, and the closest United came to an equaliser was when Basaksehir almost conceded an own goal in stoppage time.
But justice was done when Alexandru Epureanu hooked the ball clear before it crossed the line.
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