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Joker prevents surprise: ManUnited turns the game in Nicosia

Manchester United fulfilled their obligation in Nicosia. However, the Red Devils had to chase a 3:2 deficit and only turned the game around thanks to two wild cards.

After the derby defeat at ManCity, United coach Erik ten Hag gave some players the chance to make amends. In contrast to the 3-6 defeat at the Ethiad Stadium, the Dutchman made only three changes. The called-up former Real stars Casemiro and Cristiano Ronaldo were in the starting eleven, as was Lindelöf. Rashford and McTominay were dropped to the bench and Varane was absent with an ankle injury.

In only his third game from the start this season, Cristiano Ronaldo took centre stage in the early stages. Against the deep-lying home side, CR7 had the first dangerous shot, which was brilliantly saved by Fabiano Freitas (9th minute). Antony’s cross lacked accuracy (16th) and Bruno Fernandes’ lob hit the crossbar (18th), but the underdogs survived the opening period without conceding a goal.

Malacia’s shot puts ManUnited behind

After the strong phase around the 20th minute, the Red Devils hardly found any gaps in the rest of the first period. Only Antony’s shot towards the cross corner was scrambled out of it by Fabiano Freitas (27th). The ten Hag team’s lack of chances was punished. When Malacia lost the ball as the last man, the home side switched gears and proved extremely efficient: Ansarifard scored for a much-celebrated half-time lead (34th).

The Red Devils were called upon in the second half and turned the game around through two jokers. Rashford, who had come on for Sancho at the break, first missed shortly after his substitution (47th), but then kept his cool and scored the 1:1 (53rd). Only ten minutes later, another joker, Martial, struck. After a fine pass from Rashford, the Frenchman scored with his first action in the bottom left corner (63rd).

Cristiano Ronaldo only hits the post

The game flattened out as ManUnited did not go for the third goal, but managed the lead and Nicosia did not have the qualities to set dangerous accents. The lead remained close for a long time – also because Cristiano Ronaldo hit the post from six metres with a completely free shot (78th). In the final phase, Rashford made it 3:1 after a counterattack following a double pass with Cristiano Ronaldo (84.).

Instead of taking the two-goal lead in a relaxed manner, the Red Devils did not defend attentively immediately after Rashford’s second goal and conceded the reward. Panagiotou scored the equaliser in the 85th minute. But the visitors did not have to tremble any longer, as they now cleverly saved the 3:2 over time.

ManUnited moved up to second place after Sheriff Tiraspol lost to Real Sociedad. Omonia, on the other hand, missed the surprise and are still waiting for their first points in the current Europa League season.



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