Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United started with a bang but things turned ugly this morning after the coach’s surprising call.
Manchester United fans fumed as Cristiano Ronaldo was subbed off in the 71st minute in Wednesday morning’s 2-1 Champions League defeat to Swiss side Young Boys.
Coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced the legendary returning forward with Jesse Lingard in order to tighten up after conceding an equaliser.
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But fans were not happy with the decision, saying it was “bizarre” to swap striker Ronaldo and play midfielder Lingard as a false nine.
The call backfired badly when Lingard’s back pass blunder in the dying seconds opened the door for Jordan Siebatcheu to score the winner with the last kick of the game.
Ronaldo’s departure saw United lose their direction in the front third without a primary target and struggle for possession in the final 20 minutes. Lingard’s mistake then ensured the Red Demons ended on the worst note possible.
USA striker Siebatcheu pounced on Lingard’s short back-pass to tuck the ball past David de Gea for a 95th-minute winner in front of a delirious crowd at the Wankdorf Stadium.
There were plenty of United fans questioning why Solskjaer took Ronaldo off, and more angry tweets were fired off when the man who took his place suffered a brain explosion at the death.
Ronaldo had earlier put United ahead with his third goal in two games since returning to Old Trafford, coming after his dream first game back when he scored a double against Newcastle in the Premier League.
United silenced the crowd as they took an early lead, Bruno Fernandes delivering a glorious pass with the outside of his right boot from the left for Ronaldo to steal in behind Ulisses Garcia at the back post and score.
Goalkeeper David von Ballmoos made contact with the shot but failed to keep it out and Ronaldo had the first goal of this season’s Champions League.
The hosts hit back to equalise in the second half through Nicolas Moumi Ngamaleu and Ronaldo was substituted before Siebatcheu got the winner.
It is a terrible start for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side in Group F, especially with tougher tests likely to come against Atalanta and Villarreal.
Ronaldo at least added to his statistics – he is the Champions League’s all-time record scorer and now has 135 goals in the competition, 15 more than his old enemy Lionel Messi.
He will be 37 early next year but his hunger for success in Europe’s elite club competition knows no bounds and he clearly felt returning to Old Trafford gave him a better chance of winning a sixth European Cup than if he stayed at Juventus.
However, it is a decade since United were a real force in the Champions League and this is another disappointing European result for them.
Young Boys won their fourth straight Swiss title last season but have since lost their top scorer, Cameroon’s Jean-Pierre Nsame, to a serious injury while coach Gerardo Seoane departed for Bayer Leverkusen.
He has been replaced in the Swiss capital by David Wagner, the German-born former USA international and one-time boss of Huddersfield Town in the Premier League.
The sending-off of United star Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the 35th minute for a dangerous tackle on Young Boys midfielder Christopher Martins was a crucial moment.
The full-back’s studs caught Luxembourg international Martins above the left ankle, and French referee Francois Letexier had no choice but to show a straight red card.
Solskjaer immediately removed Jadon Sancho to send on a replacement right-back in Diogo Dalot. He then brought on Raphael Varane for the second half in place of Donny van de Beek, who had been given his first start this season.
That meant a back five for the second half, with Ronaldo left alone up front, while Young Boys pushed forward looking for an equaliser that came in the 66th minute when Ngamaleu got in front of Varane and prodded home Meschack Elia’s cross from the right to the delight of the home fans.
With The Sun, AFP