YOUNG BOYS 2 OLD MASTER 1
Ronaldo despair as United beaten by last kick of game
CRISTIANO RONALDO’S first European match for Manchester United in 12 years ended in 95th-minute heartbreak as they fell to a 2-1 loss to Young Boys.
Ronaldo opened the scoring on 13 minutes but after Aaron Wan-Bissaka was sent off, Nicolas Moumi Ngamaleu equalised and Jordan Siebatcheu seized on Jesse Lingard’s backpass to win it.
AND this was meant to be the easy group. Young Boys, Villarreal and Atalanta. No big guns in Group F. No danger of Manchester United missing the Champions League knockout stage this time.
United will know what that ‘F’ stands for after a calamitous night in Bern. A goal ahead inside 13 minutes thanks to that man Cristiano Ronaldo, it looked as though they were in for an easy ride against the Champions League qualifiers, who sit fourth in the Swiss league and are in only their second group campaign in this competition.
But United rarely do things the easy way. Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s first-half dismissal turned the course of the game, and Jesse Lingard’s awful back-pass in the last minute of added time gifted a winner to substitute Jordan Siebatcheu with practically the final kick of the game.
Cue pandemonium at Stadion Wankdorf. David Wagner, who enjoyed a famous win over United as Huddersfield manager in 2017, was on the pitch with his players to celebrate the goal and they returned seconds later to celebrate a deserved victory. Questions will be asked about how Ole Gunnar Solskjaer responded to the rapidly deteriorating situation here as United were forced to desperately cling on and the volume levels rose.
He sent on Diogo Dalot for Jadon Sancho immediately after the red card, and Raphael Varane for Donny van de Beek at half-time as he switched to a back three.
When Lingard and Nemanja Matic replaced Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes in the 72nd minute, it was clear that United were settling for a draw they didn’t get. Varane was caught out for the first goal and Lingard blundered for the second. All this after the stage was set for another Ronaldo show, following his sensational homecoming at Old Trafford.
Having taken out a steward by hitting him in the head with a ball during a shooting drill in the warm-up, it didn’t take the Portuguese star long to floor Young Boys with his third goal in two games on the night he equalled Iker Casillas’s Champions League appearance record of 177.
Solskjaer had talked down the importance of recording assists on the eve of this game, but nothing could take away from the quality of Fernandes’s exquisite pass that set up Ronaldo.
Curled in with the outside of his right foot, it took out five players on the way through to Ronaldo in front of goal. He steered the ball through the legs of goalkeeper David von Ballmoos who couldn’t stop it from trickling over the line.
It was a lead United scarcely deserved after a lively start from the Swiss champions who were roared on by a capacity crowd.
At times, United’s players seemed to struggle to keep their feet on the heavily watered artificial turf and Van de Beek was lucky not to be booked for scything down Nicolas Moumi Ngamaleu. Wan
Bissaka wasn’t quite so fortunate in the 35th minute when he miscontrolled a simple pass from Van de Beek and went over the top with his challenge on Christopher Martins Pereira as he tried to recover the ball. It was an ugly tackle deserving of a straight red card from French referee Francois Letexier.
In an improving United team, Wan-Bissaka remains a curious case. One of the best one-on-one defenders in Europe but a player whose touch and comfort on the ball is not up to the standard of his team-mates. It cost him here and it cost United too.
Ngamaleu and Michel Aebischer had already gone close for Young Boys and Christian Fassnacht was inches away from equalising before half-time.
Not long after Ronaldo had a penalty appeal controversially turned down for a challenge by Mohamed Ali Camara, Young Boys drew level in the 66th minute.
Silvan Hefti sent over a cross from the right and for once United didn’t deal with it. The ball bounced in front of Varane and Ngamaleu got in ahead of the Frenchman to prod it past David de Gea.
Despite the multiple substitutions, United were rocking. Sandro Lauper went close twice with two efforts that put the shot count at 18-2 in his team’s favour.
Then in the fifth minute of added time, Lingard played an awful back-pass and Siebatcheu intercepted. The Young Boys substitute was in and drew De Gea before knocking the ball past him.
A night that started so well for United and Ronaldo had gone disastrously wrong.
YOUNG BOYS (4-2-3-1): Von Ballmoos 6.5; Hefti 7 (Sulejmani 83min), Camara 6.5, Lauper 7 (Zesiger 90+2), Garcia 6.5; Sierro 6 (Siebatcheu 46, 7), Martins Pereira 7 (Rieder 82); Fassnacht 6, Aebischer 7,
MOUMI NGAMALEU 8; Elia 7 (Kanga 90+2). Scorers: Moumi 66, Siebatcheu 90+5. Booked: Martins Pereira, Fassnacht. Manager: David Wagner 8. MANCHESTER UNITED (4-2-3-1): De Gea 6; Wan-Bissaka 4, Lindelof 6, Maguire 6.5, Shaw 6.5; Van de Beek 6 (Varane 46, 5.5), Fred 6 (Martial 89); Sancho 6 (Dalot 37, 6), Fernandes 7 (Matic 72, 6), Pogba 5; Ronaldo 6.5 (Lingard 72, 4). Scorers: Ronaldo 13. Booked: Varane. Sent off: Wan-Bissaka. Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 5.5. Referee: Francois Letexier (France) 7. Attendance: 31,120.