Manchester clubs suffer without fit major marksmen in Champions League
Both Manchester clubs endured miserable opening European nights, as they were overcome in their first Champions League group games of the season, despite the two sides currently sitting in the Premier League’s top three positions.
Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United scuppered a one-goal lead to eventually lose 2-1 to PSV Eindhoven on their travels to the Netherlands, with a horrific injury to in-form full back Luke Shaw clearly affecting his teammates.
Elsewhere, at the Etihad, Manchester City also blew a narrow lead against last campaign’s European finalists Juventus to be defeated 2-1, with Manuel Pellegrini’s men suffering another lacklustre outing without fully fit Sergio Aguero, making them 5/2 with Coral to win Group D.
The Red Devils travelled to an intimidating Eindhoven without the services of skipper Wayne Rooney, with Van Gaal opting to leave out England’s all-time scorer due to a hamstring injury.
Despite having their captain missing, France starlet Anthony Martial begun proceedings effectively, threateningly taking on the PSV defence at times and strongly holding up play for his midfielders to then get involved, but he soon faded out.
Returning to his old stomping ground, Memphis Depay clinically dispatched United’s opener after receiving a well-timed Daley Blind through ball on 45 minutes. The Dutchman has shone so far in Europe for his new club and refused to follow the sickening trend in the sport of not celebrating against former teams, instead jubilantly joining his new teammates in delight.
Although, United had been visibly shaken-up by a shocking injury to Shaw before the opener, as Hector Moreno’s rash challenge saw the England left back unfortunately pick up a double leg fracture.
After the United medics worryingly treated Shaw, eventually carrying him off on a stretcher, the referee added eight minutes onto the first period, and PSV used their extended time wisely, quickly equalising.
Mexican Moreno, initially dejected by the effects of his tackle on Shaw, pushed aside his emotions to header home the Lightbulbs’ leveller from a Maxime Lestienne corner, ending the first-half all square.
PSV must get credit for swiftly replacing Memphis this summer with Belgian wideman Lestienne, as the wicked winger provided another assist for the winning header from Luciano Narsingh before the hour mark.
Rooney’s absence proved to be more hurtful as the game reached its concluding moments, with Marouane Fellaini being introduced for Martial and failed to make any impact, as United suffered a miserable return to Europe, making them 7/4 to win Group B.
Meanwhile, back in the blue half of Manchester, City struggled without their main marksman Aguero from the start, relying on a Giorgio Chiellini own-goal to open proceedings before deadly duo Mario Mandzukic and Alvaro Morata struck to capture three points in this Group D match-up.
Both sides have witnessed contrasting domestic seasons so far, with City storming to the summit of England’s top-flight, while this victory was the Old Lady’s first since winning the Italian Super Cup at the beginning of last month.
That proved irrelevant though as five straight previous victories for City was halted, raising even more questions over their European ambitions on another stuttering showing in the competition.
Into the final few minutes of the defeat, Pellegrini desperately launched a clearly injured Aguero on as well as Kevin De Bruyne and Nicolas Otamendi, but none could make an impact so late on, leaving both Manchester clubs to ponder over poor European exploits.