Europa League: Man Utd make the wrong kind of history, Kjaer rescues Fenerbahce

Europa league Group A was turned on its head after Feyenoord beat Manchester United and Fenerbahce were held to a 1-1 draw against Zorya.

United boss Jose Mourinho made eight changes to the team that lost against Manchester City in the derby but still fielded a strong side featuring Paul Pogba and Juan Mata.

Anthony Martial and the much talked about Marcus Ashford started for United but were able to pull off just one shot on target between them in the first half.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was brought on for United in the second half and was deployed out wide and narrowly missed when he headed wide.

United were up against a few familiar faces, none more so that former Liverpool star Dirk Kuyt. Turkish international attacking midfielder Bilal Basacikoglu came on in the second half, providing his side with fresh legs going into the last 20 minutes as they tried to hold out for an unexpected draw.

Against all the odds it was Feyenoord who took the league after Nicolai Jorgensen – who looked to be offside – crossed for Tonny Vilhena who scored a late winner.

The defeat was United’s fourth consecutive European away loss in the history of the club. The Reds have now won just two of their last 14 games on the road in Europe.

Fenerbahce meanwhile went into their clash Zorya having got off to their worst ever ever start to a domestic league campaign – two draws and a defeat against Bursaspor which ended a 24 match unbeaten run at home.

Despite not getting off to the best of starts to their league campaign Fenerbahce went into the Zorya game as clear favourites – on paper anyway. The Yellow Canaries are coached by Dick Advocaat who has a wealth of European experience and have a squad featuring several international players with years of top-level experience in some of the toughest leagues in Europe.

Zorya are a club worth £13.8m which is roughly one tenth the value of Fenerbahce – £134m. Things did not however, go exactly to plan as the Istanbul giants put on a lack lustre, defensive display lacking in creativity and attacking guile.

Advocaat made several surprises to his starting line-up. Summer signing Van der Wiel was dropped for Sener Ozbayrakli. The midfield trio consisted of Mehmet Topal, Josef de Souza and Salih Ucan while the attacking trident was made up of Moussa Sow upfront with Stoch and Alper Potuk out wide.

The problem became obvious within the first 10 minutes. Fenerbahce lacked creativity in midfield. Topal and Souza are defensive minded midfielders who do a pretty stellar job at times shielding the back-four but they are not the players to call on if you are trying to unlock a defence. Ucan was the sole creative player in midfield. Zorya were well aware of his role and did not give him room to breathe which basically nullified the away sides attack. The forwards were starved of service and with two defensively minded full-backs Fenerbahce were left disjointed and lacking any balance or fluidity going forwards.

Zorya had done their homework and managed to neutralise Fenerbahce while creating a few dangerous chances in a goalless first half.

Advocaat made a baffling change at half-time bringing off the sole creative player in the team – Ucan – for another hard-working, defensively minded midfielder in Ozan Tufan.

The home side opened the scoring a few minutes into the second half with an early candidate for goal of the Europa League.

Advocaat went for broke bringing on two strikers, Van Persie and Emenike soon after but the team lacked a creative spark.

Just when it looked like it was all over Fenerbahce won a free-kick in the sixth minute of additional time. Much to his teammates dismay centre-back Simon Kjaer took it upon himself to take the set-piece but failed to even beat the wall. Luckily enough the ball rebounded right back into his path and he smashed a shot back at the wall which took a deflection before flying into the back of the net for the most unlikely of equaliser.

Fenerbahce welcome Feyenoord to the Sukru Saracoglu on Match Day Two while United take on Zorya at Old Trafford.

See More
Fenerbahce – 2016-17 Season Preview & Prediction
Fenerbahce – How to get to the Sukru Saracoglu stadium and Istanbul city guide