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Thursday, 3 November 2016

Man United slump to defeat at Fenerbahce

Manchester United's wretched European away form continued as Fenerbahçe scored two magnificent goals against them without reply in Istanbul. The 1,200 travelling United fans present for the Europa League match have now seen their side lose seven and draw one of their last eight matches on the continent. After Thursday's 2-1 defeat, United slump to third in Group A with two games to play.

Fenerbahçe started the night two points behind a United side who defeated them 4-1 two weeks ago in Manchester but the hosts got off to the perfect start in the second minute when full-back Hasan Ali Kalirim crossed from the left towards Moussa Sow, who started ahead of Robin van Persie. The experienced Senegal international is on loan from Emirati side Al Ahli.

Sow waited between Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind for the ball but didn't even look around as he produced a spectacular overhead kick that beat David de Gea from 18 yards out. His second goal of the season was a sublime strike that he'll do well to better. On the sidelines, Sow's 69-year-old manager, Dick Advocaat, celebrated vigorously by his bench as the Surku Saracoglu stadium burst into an even louder ear-piercing din.

With a seven-game unbeaten run at home in the Europa League and far more confidence in Istanbul than away, the Turkish side caught the mood of their fans early on as they began with intent. With a goal advantage, the well-organised home side were happy to sit off United and let them have possession in front of their defence, quickly counter attacking in numbers where possible in a noise so loud it could be heard in a different continent. Well, the European side of Istanbul is only three kilometres away on the other side of the Bosphorus.

One such attack came in the 25th minute but Jeremain Lens headed narrowly wide. Lens attempted a spectacular bicycle kick four minutes later that Sow would have been proud of. The 30-year-old Sow was always a danger, more mobile than Van Persie had been as Old Trafford as he stretched United's defence. Not for nothing, delirious fans were singing his name after both halves.

Lens would have his moment, too: his 59th minute curling free kick left David de Gea cold for the increasingly confident Turkish side's second goal.

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