March 2, 2021


travel is natural.

Istanbul Basaksehir vs. Manchester United score: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s defense hand win to Turkish champions

Manchester United fell to a 2-1 defeat to Istanbul Basaksehir at the Fatih Terim Stadium to prompt further questions of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer about his side’s inconsistency.

United had earned impressive wins over RB Leipzig and Paris Saint-Germain in their first two fixtures of Group H but fell apart in Turkey in a first half marred by basic defensive errors.

In the 13th minute, Demba Ba was able to profit from woeful defending which saw almost every United player in the attacking third before Edin Visca took advantage of another counterattack just before halftime. Anthony Martial’s header soon after gave his side hope but until Alexandru Epureanu hacked the ball of the line in the closing minutes United did not look like getting an equaliser.

United remain well-placed in Group H with six points from their opening three games but victory has done the world of good to Basaksehir’s hopes of qualifying, handing them their first points of the competition and drawing level with Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig before the two sides face each other later this evening.

Luis Miguel Echegaray was joined by Jimmy Conrad on the latest episode of ¡Qué Golazo! to break down Wednesday’s action. Listen below:

Recap the talking points from the game below:

United’s fundamental errors

It had all started so well for Manchester United. The chances weren’t flowing in the first 12 minutes but the pressure was clearly building on the Turkish champions, who needed every player back in their own half to defend their goal. It was just that having everyone behind the halfway line was rather helpful.

A heave upfield should not leave United reeling, but that was all it took for Basaksehir, Visca spotting Ba in space high up the field. This wasn’t Mohamed Salah’s breakaway goal for Liverpool last night where a forward turned on the afterburners 

Having Nemanja Matic as the last man back for the corner that led to Basaksehir’s goal seems to be inviting pressure, while it is hard to understand what Luke Shaw might have thought he was bringing by staying in an attack that got bogged down after Juan Mata and Bruno Fernandes worked the set play short. There simply needs to be more nous, communication and common sense in the backline.

If one could forgive a one-off error it was indefensible that United should be caught out again by a 35-year-old striker with Tuanzebe booked in the 20th minute for bringing down Ba, who was convinced his opponent should have seen red. Even the television cameras caught the veteran striker signalling his goalkeeper Mert Gunok to send the quick ball over the top but it seemed to take the United defence by surprise.

Then there was Basaksehir’s second which ends with three United players on the right corner of the six-yard box and Shaw darting back into the shot by the time Visca is celebrating.

Tuanzebe or Shaw may get much of the blame for United’s worst moments and it is certainly true that he seemed all too convinced his recovery pace could get him out of any hole. But when a young defence makes errors on such a consistent basis — and any time Basaksehir attacked they seemed to be running at a disorganised rearguard — one must look at the senior figures, particularly Harry Maguire and Matic, and question what leadership they are offering.

Solskjaer’s tinkering without purpose

Of course there are issues that extend beyond the pitch. There are plenty even that extend far beyond the dugout, but they are for another time. For now, it is up to Solskjaer to explain his plans and United’s inconsistency in terms of system and approach.

Having experimented with a back five to great effect against Paris Saint-Germain, Solskjaer switched to a diamond in even more impressive fashion for the 5-0 win over RB Leipzig. It seemed a promising system that might allow for all three of Donny van de Beek, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes to play together. Then it ran aground against Arsenal and seemingly has been dispensed with.

Anthony Martial vies with Martin Skrtel
Getty Images

There is no problem with versatility in systems, particularly when the football philosophy remains rigid, but moving to a 4-2-3-1 in Istanbul rather appeared to suggest that Solskjaer has not entirely settled on any real identity. Consistency of selection might be impossible with the current fixture list but some cohesion and clarity from game to game would not go amiss. 

The team that played fast and thrillingly loose a week ago now seemed to be deliberately studious and slow in possession, not because their hosts forced them into this way of playing but because United were willing to work the ball around. When their approach to games changes so radically from day to day it can be no surprise that their results are similarly volatile.

Notable performances

Edin Visca: An invigorating presence on Basaksehir’s counters, the Bosnian international was direct and swift. His goal may not have found the corner but it was hit with such venom that it was no surprise Dean Henderson could not get a glove on it. RATING: 8

Aaron Wan-Bissaka: It seems perverse to pick out any one individual on what was a night of team failings but the right-back stood out for all too many of the wrong reasons in a match where United could not make much from their possession. Only two of his side’s first 16 crosses found a teammates head and all too often it was Wan-Bissaka whose delivery was found wanting. RATING: 4

Irfan Can Kahveci: There were flashes of glamour from the 25-year-old but above all this was a hugely effective defensive play from Kahvechi, who always seemed to be on hand to make the tackle – only the similarly excellent Rafael made more than his four – and even the odd cynical foul. RATING: 7

Up next

These two sides face each other in matchday four at Old Trafford but before then Manchester United travel to Everton on Saturday. Basaksehir face Genclerbirligci on Sunday.

You can stream every Champions League match on CBS All Access. Every match will be available on demand shortly after the final whistle.