ISTANBUL — Manchester United conceded an embarrassing early goal before slumping to a 2-1 loss at Champions League newcomer Istanbul Basaksehir on Wednesday, throwing their group wide open.
Demba Ba, a 35-year-old striker who used to play in the Premier League, was allowed to run through on goal unopposed from 15 yards (meters) inside Basaksehir’s own half and slot home a finish to give the Turkish champions a 13th-minute lead and their first ever Champions League goal.
United's defending was almost as shoddy for the second goal, with midfielder Juan Mata dispossessed near the halfway line and Basaksehir midfielder Edin Višca left unmarked — following a dummy by Ba — to slam a rising shot into the net in the 40th.
Anthony Martial reduced the deficit for United by glancing in a header three minutes later, but the English team failed to get anywhere the level of its displays in wins over Paris Saint-Germain and Leipzig in the first two rounds of matches, despite incessant pressure in the second half.
Basaksehir's first win in the Champions League was sealed when defender Alexandru Epureanu cleared the ball acrobatically off the line following a scramble in the area with seconds remaining in stoppage time.
The Turkish team had previously lost against PSG and Leipzig without scoring, and is languishing in seventh place in its domestic league in a disappointing start to its title defence .
“You don’t just turn up and get three points in the Champions League," United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said. “We weren’t good enough, that’s it. It’s not easy to be positive when you’ve lost the way we did.”
Solskjaer described the opening goal his side conceded as “unforgivable.”
Seconds after a United corner, another cross by the visitors was blocked and Višca was content to clear the ball out of his own area. Ba was well inside his own half but there wasn't a United player anywhere near him as he latched onto the long ball forward, advanced toward the area, and beat goalkeeper Dean Henderson — selected ahead of David de Gea — with a low shot.
It revived memories of a famous goal Ba scored for Chelsea at Anfield in 2014, in a late-season defeat for Liverpool that cost the team a shot at winning the Premier League. On that occasion, a slip by Steven Gerrard let Ba run free but this time it was a simple clearance.
“I think we started OK, then gave a goal away — I don’t know how,” United midfielder Donnie Van De Beek said. “I think we lost our confidence after that.”
With back-to-back wins over the two semifinalists from last season — and scoring seven goals in the process — United seemed to be on its way to advancing from Group H early.
But the loss in Istanbul gives both PSG and Leipzig renewed hope ahead of their meeting in Germany later Wednesday, and increases the concerns at United, which lost 1-0 at home to Arsenal on Sunday to slip to 15th place in the Premier League.
“The result has set us back a lot," Solskjaer said. “You get a reality check when you play a game like this.”
Basaksehir's lineup included Brazilian defender Rafael da Silva, a former United player.
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