Manchester United's perfect Champions League campaign has been ended by Galatasaray in Turkey. A much changed and very youthful United side played well but a momentary lapse of concentration cost them all three points and gave the Turkish hosts a vital 1-0 win in Group H.
With qualification and top of the group already assured, Sir Alex Ferguson named a young, changed squad to take on Galatasaray in the noisy and intimidating Turk Telecom Arena. The passionate Galatasaray fans even planned a huge welcome for United as they got off of their flight at the airport but the young players were able to avoid it as they quickly took an alternate route out and into the bus. The players could not avoid however, the reception that awaited them once they took to the field on Tuesday night and the Arena was exploding with support for the home team. Alexander Buttner got a start alongside Michael Carrick and Phil Jones who was making his first start in a competitive match since the last day of the 2011-12 Premier League season. Nick Powell also got a rare start and had an opportunity to prove to his new manager that he is the future of United's midfield.
Both teams began the game well and offered the fans a very entertaining match that saw chances fashioned at both ends. The crowd, firmly behind their home team heroes, were strangely more muted every time word came in that Cluj (the other match in the group) were beating Braga. United's main aim in the opening minutes of the match was to limit Galatasaray's possession and quiet the crowd so that the young team could slowly start to get a feel for the match. For the most part, everything was going nicely to plan for United as they were able to frustrate Galatasaray early on and worry them with the attack of Chicharito and Danny Welbeck. Late in the first half, Powell had a terrific chance to put the guests in front when he took a nice header that slammed off of the cross bar. Galatasaray may have been a bit rattled and were perhaps glad to hear the halftime whistle.
United began the second half a bit slow and Galatasaray tried to take advantage of this by keeping good possession and troubling the inexperienced defense when they could. Five minutes into the match, midfielder Felipe Melo connected with a nice cross forcing goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard into a fantastic save to deny his header. Felipe Melo, who had a superb game, turned to fire up the crowd in anticipation of the resulting corner and the crowd reaction certainly proved to be Galatasaray's 12th man as United's defense looked put off for the corner and allowed Burak Yilmaz to head home the match winner. The goal certainly meant the world to the Turkish side who kept their hopes of qualification alive in the group.
United's response to going behind was good and the team began to test the Galatasaray defense much more but a goal would not come and United had to settle for their first loss of the campaign. Only one more match remains in the group stage of the competition and United will hope to get something from the match against Cluj when they visit Old Trafford next month.
Man of the Match: Felipe Melo. The midfielder knew how important this match was for his club and put in a hard-working and influential shift that saw Galatasaray win the match and put themselves into a great position to qualify into the next round.
Galatasaray: Fernando Muslera; Albert Riera, Dany Nounkeu, Semih Kaya, Emmanuel Eboue; Hamit Altintop, Selcuk Inan, Felipe Melo, Nordin Amrabat (Emre Colak); Johan Elmander (Engin Baytar), Burak Yilmaz (Umut Bulut)
Manchester United: Anders Lindegaard; Rafael, Phil Jones, Michael Carrick, Alexander Buttner; Anderson (Ashley Young), Tom Cleverley, Darren Fletcher, Nick Powell (Federico Macheda); Chicharito, Danny Welbeck (Joshua King)
Tags: Champions League, Felipe Melo, Galatasaray, Manchester, Manchester United, Phil Jones, Premier League, Sir Alex Ferguson, Soccer