Manchester United took an early lead but were unable to see the game with so much as a point, after Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s first-half red card proved costly against Young Boys in a 2-1 defeat.
Cristiano Ronaldo netted in the first 15 minutes to set the Red Devils ahead, finishing well after a wonderful Bruno Fernandes delivery, but despite some good build-up play there were few further clear chances to increase the lead.
Wan-Bissaka was dismissed for a dreadful tackle 10 minutes before the break and a host of changes from Manchester United failed to stem the rising tide of pressure from their hosts, with Nicolas Moumi Ngamaleu prodding in the equaliser and a stoppage-time winner arriving from Jordan Siebatcheu.
It marks another poor outing for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team in the group phase of the Champions League, which they failed to progress from last year.
Here are five things we learned from the match at the Wankdorf Stadium.
Cristiano still owns the Champions League
You cannot stop the Portuguese forward in Europe.
Already the top scorer in the Champions League’s history, he had barely had a touch before he put United ahead, superb movement was the key to his first-time finish at the far post, easily losing his man.
This time it didn’t lead to post-match celebrations but it’s another sign of just how much he’ll contribute across the course of the season.
Sancho slow to settle in
Another new arrival didn’t have such an enjoyable night.
Jadon Sancho hasn’t hit the ground running and, out on the right flank this time, he failed to get involved too much and looked hesitant in possession, far from the heights he’s shown he’s capable of.
So early in his United career it won’t be a worry, rather an acknowledgement he needs time to settle.
But it was still striking he was first off after the red card in the reshuffle.
Rotation and opportunity
If Sancho was first off, Donny van de Beek wasn’t far behind.
The Dutchman was making his first start of the season and didn’t do too much to take his chance, though his levels of motivation can’t be too high right now given how far down the pecking order he seems to be.
Victor Lindelof, too, was restored to the line-up – and was another who didn’t impress.
The manager has been somewhat renowned for sticking to his first 11 whenever possible and it would be no surprise to see him revert in kind at the weekend.
Another battle in the group awaits
Turn the clocks back a season and while PSG were obviously excellent, Istanbul Basaksehir and RB Leipzig were merely strong opponents, rather than clearly better than United. A costly defeat to the team which finished bottom proved pivotal.
Might we have seen another similar instance here?
Villarreal and Atalanta are no PSG, but neither are they pushovers. United now face, if not an uphill battle at this early stage, then certainly a much trickier path than it looked when the draw was made.
Serious questions of Solskjaer
Last season, going out in what was basically a group play-off match with Leipzig was a real disappointment for United and posed questions of Solskjaer’s ability to direct his team in the biggest of games. The same can be said for any of their semi-final defeats under him, or the Uefa Europa League final defeat.
This fixture was far less high-profile across the course of the season, but the way the team succumbed to Young Boys – far from Europe’s finest – and gave up any measure of control of the match after the red card was impossible to ignore.
United’s boss made one sub immediately, another at the break and three more late on, none of which helped maintain possession, break up Young Boys’ build-up play or give the Red Devils a counter-attacking threat.
Would a simple red card see a Thomas Tuchel or Pep Guardiola team crumble in such a manner? Forget the late winner and the manner of it, the 35-90 minutes period should be the focus and United – Solskjaer – had no answer as to how to fix it.
He has taken charge of 11 Champions League games…and lost seven.
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