When Manchester United and İstanbul Başakşehir F.K. met in Turkey, the horrifying defending by the English side allowed the Turkish to take advantage during the counter. It led to a shocking defeat. The Turkish champions were well-organized and resolute in defense, throwing their bodies on the line in a series of last-ditch tackles as they emerged with the three points.

But the same tactics backfired in Old Trafford.

The Turkish side relied on a deep-lying defence, but they committed defensive mistakes which meant that Manchester United were three goals ahead with just over half an hour played.

It took United just seven minutes to begin the scoring, and they did so in style, Fernandes lashing a ferocious half-volley in off the crossbar from just outside the box after Basaksehir partially cleared a corner.

Fernandes was in the right place at the right time 12 minutes later, on hand to tap in from close range when Basaksehir goalkeeper Fehmi Mert Gunok inexplicably spilled a routine cross.

Fernandes might have had a hat-trick just past the half-hour mark, but he allowed Rashford – who earlier had an effort disallowed for offside – to take the penalty that the England international had won following a foul by Boli Bolingoli.

The early success encouraged Manchester United to come forward with increasing regularity, once again leaving spaces in behind for Basaksehir to exploit.

However, the Manchester United defence was much-more tuned-on than before and the Turkish side failed to exploit the spaces.

Additionally, the Turkish side’s attackers were guilty of missing a few presentable chances, the conversion of which might have put a different spin on proceedings. When the goal did come, it was too late for Basaksehir to mount a comeback, with the home side capable of seeing the game out and securing the three points.

It was a neat performance by United, but one could say, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made some changes to the side, which bore fruits.

Donny van de Beek and Edinson Cavani, who was making his first start for the club, came in for Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata and it was remarkable to witness their combined effect on the fluidity of United’s attack.

Where the hosts were laboured and lethargic against West Brom, they were full of vigour against Basaksehir. Deft touches from Cavani brought the class back to United’s front line but it was Van de Beek who really stole the show.

Donny van de Beek, who started with Fred, was at the heart of it all.

The difference was simply that he always looks forward. Not that he always plays it forward, but he always looks to get the ball moving towards goal at speed. The presence of van de Beek masked the scratchy passing of Fred and the Brazilian looked shaper and confident enough: the center of the park became enlightened.

Van de Beek’s lively presence in the midfield pushed the frontline with confidence and the results were productive.

Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, and Anthony Martial didn’t have to keep coming deep to search for the ball; they could stay high and knew the ball would reach them.

Then there was Alex Telles, who enjoyed an excellent game as a full-back.

Both Shaw and Wan-Bissaka have been guilty of not delivering inviting crosses into the box for their forwards to attack. This, in turn, piles more pressure on the likes of Bruno Fernandes to create chances, in addition to making Manchester United’s forays forward more predictable.

However, Alex Telles came up with an excellent passing range as well as a sense of timing that gives their attacks a significant boost.

In his short career at Manchester United, Telles has shown himself willing to get forward at every opportunity while also showcasing his excellent delivery, both from open play and from set-pieces.

He displayed those qualities against Istanbul Basaksehir as well, with Manchester United’s second goal resulting from one of his probing crosses that the goalkeeper dropped into the path of a lurking Fernandes.


Still, at the back, the center-backs remain a headache for United and require more polishing.


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