Although I had predicted this exact scoreline before the match, I cannot say I am happy with the game. The result, I suppose, was good, although really we should be looking at comfortable wins against teams like this, even if they’re the toughest game of the group. One of their best players is ex-Bolton striker Elmander, and their regular full back is Emmanuel Eboue, so they’re clearly not great. Readers better be prepared for a bit of a rant, for I am not pleased with tonight’s performance.
Anyway, the game began in a very promising fashion, with both sides heavily involved and creating chances. Vidic fouled the Gala striker in the box, but bizarrely no penalty was given. We then got the early break when Van Persie, Kagawa and Carrick combined well to allow Carrick in to round the keeper and keep a cool head. The cool head was present in Carrick throughout the entire match, and indeed he ended up being my man of the match, comfortably.
The United goal did little to affect the game, as both sides continued to create chances until half time, a couple of which resulted from the old cliché ‘misplaced pass from Paul Scholes, that’s something you don’t say every day’, at which point the whole game changed. Both sides became much more defensive, which is odd seeing as Galatasaray badly wanted a result from this match. Anyway, a host of wastefulness later, and Rafael goes down in the area to win a penalty. I am still not sure if this was the correct decision, but let’s say it was because Rafael had a relatively good outing. Nani stepped up despite having a poor game so far, took a couple of stutters, and he watched as his semi-decent shot was saved by the Gala keeper.
The mood in the stadium was almost surreal, as if people had not really expected a goal from the penalty anyway, and the match carried on in an instant. A few minutes later, Valencia is felled and arguably should have had a penalty, but it was not given, allowing Galatasaray to break and created a good chance with United on the back foot. De Gea saved the initial shot that was hit straight at him and parried it directly to the second striker, who took a much better arrowed shot into the far corner, and thankfully drew a much better save from De Gea – one of his best in a United shirt. Despite some poor kicking from the Spaniard as I’ve become accustomed to, he kept us in the game with that second save and deserves a huge amount of praise considering he had little else to do.
Fletcher returned to the first team to great applause, only to perform poorly, whilst Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez also came on later without shining – Hernandez in particular was guilty of missing great chances supplied by the much improved Nani. Again, the substitutions were left far too late and we arguably brought on the wrong people, with the half fit and clearly out of practise Fletcher preferred to Cleverley and Anderson, whilst bringing on Hernandez was an odd decision, for he hardly helps us maintain control of the ball – what we definitely needed to do, with many of our seasoned players including Van Persie and Scholes having been exceptionally sloppy.
In short, it was a very dull game after an exciting start, and most of United’s players were very disappointing, which is a great shame because going into this match, I thought we were playing one of our strongest sides. We definitely need to play better when we go off to Turkey for the penultimate game of the group stage, and also we would be well advised to pick in up a bit for the games against Braga and Cluj as well. We were far far far too wasteful with our shooting opportunities, and in fact the only part of the game that made me genuinely happy (aside from the goal) was Eboue’s rubbishness – oh how I’ve missed him.