Hopes were there for 13-time English Premier League winners Manchester United to save their 2023/2024 Season when they snapped their three-game losing streak in all competitions and won two consecutive games on the bounce, but Rasmus Højlund’s new club soon fall back to reality after defeats to Crystal Palace in the league and Galatasaray in Matchday 2 of the UEFA Champions League yesterday. The 20-year-old Danish striker Rasmus Højlund gave 10-man Red Devils the lead twice in the European cup tie but the team failed to capitalise on their advantage and lost to the defending Turkish Süper Lig champions with a score line of 3-2 at Old Trafford.
Rasmus Højlund: Three Goals in Two Champions League Games for United
Last weekend saw Manchester United being revenged by Crystal Palace in the Premier League over their previous meeting in the EFL Cup Third Round, but Dutch manager ten Hag chose to put faith in his starting lineup that was defeated by Palace, replacing only Uruguayan Facundo Pellistri with midfielder Hannibal Mejbri. The Red Devils faced a Galatasaray side that have former United winger Wilfried Zaha in their squad and have been undefeated in their opening 14 matches in all competitions thus far this year.
Manchester United found the back of the net before their roaring home fans in the 17th minute, when the team’s defensive backline halted the visitors’ attacking play, before Casemiro launched a long ball to unleash Marcus Rashford. The England international then fired a delivery into the dangerous zone for his new partner in crime Rasmus Højlund to draw first blood for ten Hag’s side. Nonetheless, United’s happiness was short-lived as Galatasaray equalised six minutes after Rasmus Højlund’s goal. Defender Davinson Sánchez sent a well-fed ball for Zaha, who battled Diogo Dalot before slotting home the equaliser. The former United man’s effort made sure things were all square going into the second 45 minutes.
When play resumed in the following period, the Red Side of Manchester scored perhaps the most beautiful goal of the evening. Visitors Galatasaray misplaced a pass and Rasmus Højlund was there to pick up the ball from the middle park of the field. The 20-year-old striker then displayed his tremendous speed and sprinted into the penalty box all by himself, before putting a shot into the back of the net. The goal was Rasmus Højlund’s third in two UEFA Champions League matches for Manchester United, meaning he is now the top scorer of this year’s competition thus far.
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Six Defeats for Erik ten Hag’s Red Devils in 2023/2024
The feisty visitors refused to let go of the game and came back to level things up for the second time in this UEFA Champions League group fixture. Just four minutes after Rasmus Højlund’s second goal of the evening, substitute Barış Alper Yılmaz, who came on 10 minutes earlier, played a one-two with striker Mauro Icardi. Yilmaz’s cross was met by the unguarded Muhammed Kerem Aktürkoğlu to place a shot into the bottom left corner; There was nothing André Onana could do to save the shot.
The new Manchester United goalkeeper then committed a blunder with 13 minutes remaining in normal playing time, after his mistimed pass was intercepted by another replacement Dries Mertens. The Belgium forward was brought down by Casemiro in the box, prompting referee to send off the Brazil national team captain and awarding the visitors a spotkick. The only silver living of this incident was Icardi’s terrible miss in the following penalty attempt, as the Argentine striker sent the ball to the left without hitting the target.
Nevertheless, with a man down, Manchester United were no longer able to withstand the pressure Galatasaray threw at them. Sofyan Amrabat’s clearance in the 81st minute was not fruitful and stopped by the opposition’s midfield, and the repelled ball found Icardi, who enjoyed a clear path towards the goal. The former Barcelona academy player made up for his missed spotkick earlier in the game and fired home the winner for the visitors. It was the 30-year-old’s 11th goal in 13 matches in all competitions for Galatasaray in 2023/2024 and Onana was again criticised for going down too early in an opponent’ shot attempt.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) October 3, 2023
Rasmus Højlund Slammed United’s Sloppy Defence
Rasmus Højlund, who scored a brace in his second UEFA Champions League match for Manchester United, was happy with his performance but not satisfied with the team’s overall play against Galatasaray. The 20-year-old Danish player cannot help but to comment on United’s poor defence during the match, saying, “It’s a little bit difficult. I feel happy and not happy at the same time, Of course, it’s not about the individual performance, it’s about getting the three points and at the moment we’re not good enough. We need to remember we can’t concede goals right after we score. We’ve had a few games now where that’s happened.”
He also added: “We need to go back, analyse that tomorrow and talk about it in the group. It’s a tough period, but we need to stick together, that’s the only way we’ll get out of it. We need to get some points now if we want to play Champions League after the group stage.”
Rasmus Højlund’s Manchester United will next face Brentford for their fourth successive home match in all competitions, will the Red Devils finally be able to shrug off their poor start to the 2023/2024 Season and go back to winning ways in Matchday 8 of this season’s English Premier League ? Leave us a comment down in the comment section below now as we would love to hear your thoughts about Manchester United’s current conditions.