Manchester United survive scare in Cyprus as Erik ten Hag's subs save the day

Manchester United survive scare in Cyprus as Erik ten Hag's subs save the day - REUTERS
Manchester United survive scare in Cyprus as Erik ten Hag's subs save the day - REUTERS
  • Cypriot side took shock lead against the run of play in the first half 

  • Substitutes Rashford and Martial turned the game after the break

  • United now sit second in Group E with six points from three games

If Erik ten Hag hoped Manchester United were going to get their derby humiliation out of their system in double quick time, he was evidently asking for too much.

On a night when United again flirted with more embarrassment, two goals from Marcus Rashford and another from fellow substitute Anthony Martial ultimately spared their blushes but there was as much in this to make Ten Hag squirm as Sunday’s 6-3 capitulation against Manchester City.

Any semblance of control evaporated when Neil Lennon’s Omonia Nicosia took advantage of some cartoonish defending to lead and then had United fretting again late on when Nikolaos Panagiotou’s late goal briefly raised hopes of the Cypriot minnows snatching a famous draw.

By the end, United had done enough through the lively Rashford and Martial to fight back and drag themselves over the line but, on the whole, this was a game that produced more questions than answers. “After half-time, we dealt well with the setback,” said Ten Hag, somewhat diplomatically. “All the subs had a really good impact.”

Cristiano Ronaldo? Well, he must long all for the more for the bright lights of the Champions League on occasions like these.

Back in the starting XI, the Portugal striker worked hard enough and made some intelligent runs but looked like a man who could not buy a goal at the moment. He hit a post, had a couple of shots saved and one or two others taken off his boot by eager Omonia bodies when opportunity briefly seemed to knock; even his assist for Rashford’s second was a mishit shot.

Cristiano Ronaldo cut an unsatisfied figure against Omonia - AFP
Cristiano Ronaldo cut an unsatisfied figure against Omonia - AFP

His only goal to date this season remains a penalty against Sheriff Tiraspol, who had brushed aside Omonia 3-0 here last month. United, by contrast, could not have made life much more difficult for themselves against a side who had won just one of their previous 26 matches in European competition excluding qualifiers.

On paper at least, this felt like a kind fixture after Sunday’s debacle and yet, by the interval, United were behind and embarrassed again. The difference was they had been overwhelmed at the Etihad by arguably the best team on the planet yet here they were facing a bunch of ageing journeymen, seven of whose starters were in their thirties, playing out the twilight of their careers in a continental backwater.

It was actually hard to remember Omonia venturing into their opponent’s half much before their breakaway goal on 33 minutes - as stunning for its execution as the litany of familiar mistakes that preceded it from United - immediately catapulted the mind back to Istanbul Basaksehir two years ago next month. On that occasion, a corner broke down, United’s entire team went missing and Demba Ba galloped away to score.

This was not a carbon copy but it bore the nightmarish hallmarks: a free-kick deep in enemy territory gone horribly wrong, with nine outfield players caught high up the pitch.

In truth, the goal would never have come about had Jadon Sancho opted to cross the ball back into the penalty area, not play a silly backwards pass to the only United player behind the ball. Tyrell Malacia, a good 15 yards inside the Omonia half, would have been under pressure from Bruno Felipe even if his first touch had been a good one; unfortunately for the United left back, it was not and he was dispossessed.

Suddenly, Omonio were surging forward in numbers on a most unexpected transition and, when Christian Eriksen compounded the previous errors by coming across to Bruno when Lisandro Martinez and Malacia looked set to shackle him, the space opened up for the ball to be slipped to Karim Ansarifard to rifle home. Gareth Southgate will hope England’s defence do not give the Iran forward this sort of space at the World Cup.

Bruno's breakneck play outfoxed Manchester United in the opening half - MB Media/Getty Images
Bruno's breakneck play outfoxed Manchester United in the opening half - MB Media/Getty Images

What will have worried Ten Hag almost as much as the goal was the way his side fell to pieces thereafter and Lennon was not wrong when he said the interval came at a good time for United.

“I think it was a bad 10 minutes after the goal,” the United manager said. His team had been in complete control without a goal to show for it, Ronaldo twice being denied by the goalkeeper, Antony electing to pass when it seemed easier to shoot and score and Bruno Fernandes hitting the bar.

Malacia, who had been taken off at half-time against City, was hooked again at the interval along with Sancho, whose replacement Rashford restored parity soon after. Having initially miscontrolled Fernandes’ superb pass, Rashford got a second chance when his marker stood off the ball and swept a lovely finish into the far corner.

Ten minutes later, another substitute had made another immediate impact, Martial cutting inside and pinging a hard, low drive into the bottom corner for his third goal in two games. Ronaldo hit a post from Diogo Dalot’s pull back before what was an intended shot from the Portuguese turned into a decent cross for Rashford to tap home.

Panagiotou’s late goal from Andronikos Kakoulli’s cross exposed more feeble United defending but, fortunately for Ten Hag, there was nothing worse to follow.

Omonia Nicosia 2 Manchester United 3 – as it happened

08:12 PM

Up next, Erik ten Hag speaks to BT Sport:

I think we started well, [had] a couple of chances, and then, [an] unnecessary goal [...] mistakes that cannot happen. [It was] a really bad ten minutes. We have to learn from that.

What he asked players to improve on at half time:

a couple of things, especially more runs. we are too static, and we have to make the opposite movements to get behind [them].

Marcus, and Anthony Martial, the subs really had an impact today, and that is really good, it makes the team stronger.

Looking ahead:

On Sunday [against Everton], we have to react and give the best performance we have. We have to prepare that now.

07:54 PM

Marcus Rashford speaks to BT Sport:

We would have liked to have played better.

It was just mistakes, [but] mistakes happen in football so we have to move on.

Until they scored, we were playing well. We had good movement, and could have got in behind them.

When [Erik ten Hag] made the subs, he wanted us to be a little bit more dynamic, take chances, and just try and score more goals.

On Martial:

He's a massive player for us, and he has been for a long time.

I always enjoy playing with him and it was nice to link up.

It's good for him to get minutes, and for the second game in a row he's come on and scored goals.

07:48 PM

An unsatisfying night for the United legend

07:41 PM

Full time: Omonia 2 Man Utd 3

A scare here tonight for Ten Hag's side. 1-0 down at half time but their subs worked a treat. United made very hard work of it, but they ground out the three points.

Two goals for Rashford and one by Martial. Ronaldo looked frustrated at the full-time whistle.

Real Sociedad also won so United remain second in the group.

United players - AFP
United players - AFP

07:37 PM

90+3 mins: Omonia 2 Man Utd 3

...and he misses again. He makes a smart run diagonally across the box. A cruyff turn to put him towards goal and he tries to curl it in. Just wide.

07:36 PM

90+1 mins: Omonia 2 Man Utd 3

Rashford tries to pick out Ronaldo at the far post, but it's a too far ahead of him... the Portugal forward has worked hard but its not been his night.

07:35 PM

90+1 mins: Omonia 2 Man Utd 3

Dalot pulls the ball back to Rashford, who is unmarked on the edge of the box. He gets a low shot in, but it's saved well by Fabiano.

07:31 PM

GOAL! Omonia 2 Man Utd 3 (Panayiotou, 85)

Nikolas Panayiotou scores his first ever European goal as Man Utd look like they've fallen asleep after Rashford's goal! It's squared to him in box from his left, coming at him in the air and he manages to direct it past De Gea. United's defenders were caught well off-guard.

07:28 PM

GOAL! Omonia 1 Man Utd 3 (Rashford, 84)

Rashford makes it three!

Another good run from Ronaldo to the left side of the box. It looks like he's going for the shot himself, but it comes to Rashford at the far post to bundle home.

Celebrating the third goal - REUTERS
Celebrating the third goal - REUTERS

07:25 PM

81 mins: Man Utd sub

McTominay comes on for Casemiro.

07:25 PM

Paul Scholes thinks Erik ten Hag has disrespected Cristiano Ronaldo by starting him against Omonia

He told BT Sport before the match:

I think it is almost more disrespectful playing him on a Thursday night in the Europa League. This man is a world superstar.

I am not saying at 37 years of age he should be starting the games, the big games especially, but this is a competition that is hard to get yourself motivated for. I don't like saying that, but it's true when you are a big player at a big club like this.

He has to change his mentality now, and because he is so strong mentally, it will be to score two goals and get himself in the team for the weekend [at Everton].

Well, it's turned out to be a harder assignment than it looked on paper.

07:23 PM

77 mins: Omonia 1 Man Utd 2

Ronaldo hits the post! That would've put the game to bed.

Dalot does well to pull the keeper out to the left side of the box, he fires the ball back across to Ronaldo who is lurking in the middle and hits it first time... but his shot canons onto the post. He looks thoroughly frustrated out there.

07:21 PM

Super subs: the two goalscorers

Rashford and Martial - AP
Rashford and Martial - AP

07:17 PM

Rashford's strike

Marcus Rashford - Manchester United
Marcus Rashford - Manchester United

07:16 PM

73 mins: Man Utd sub

Fred comes on for Antony.

07:14 PM

69 mins: Omonia 1 Man Utd 2

Ronaldo has a shot, it comes to him quickly on the edge of the area... but he fires over.

A frustrated man out there is CR7.

Ronaldo - Getty Images Europe
Ronaldo - Getty Images Europe

07:12 PM

68 mins: Omonia 1 Man Utd 2

Bruno gets in behind the United defence, played in wonderfully over the top.

De Gea is off his line and Bruno tries to lift it over him, but he doesn't enough on it and De Gea gathers. Omonia's best chance this half.

07:09 PM

64 mins: Omonia 1 Man Utd 2

Ronaldo puts a lovely ball in from the left channel, Antony waiting to finish it off, but Lecjaks gets there first and hoofs the ball away.

07:08 PM

GOAL! Omonia 1 Man Utd 2 (Martial, 63)

What an introduction from Martial. He's straight onto the scoresheet barely two minutes after coming on.

Martinez plays in the ball from deep, Rashford with a little backheel flick into the path of Martial. He takes a touch and picks his spot, firing past Fabiano.

Martial's goal - REUTERS
Martial's goal - REUTERS

07:05 PM

61 mins: Omonia 1 Man Utd 1

Yellow card for Charalambous for what looked like a stamp on Casemiro. First booking of the match.

07:05 PM

61 mins: Man Utd sub

Fernandes is off, Martial comes on.

07:04 PM

60 mins: Omonia 1 Man Utd 1

Fernandes picks out Ronaldo in the box... it hits his heal and flicks up, he gets control again and has shot but it's into the side netting from a wide angle.

07:00 PM

56 mins: Omonia 1 Man Utd 1

Antony looks to measure one into the top left corner, cutting inside from the right side of the box after a prolonged period of United build up.

The goal's lifted United and they look back in control.

06:58 PM

GOAL! Omonia 1 Man Utd 1 (Rashford, 53)

A great pass from Dalot in the right-back position comes to Rashford up top. He's quite tightly marked, but a run from Ronaldo takes a defender away to his left giving him space to cut inside and curl his right-footed shot around Fabiano. Great finish and smart play from Ronaldo to open up the space for the England forward.

That's his fourth of the season – his first away from Old Trafford.

06:55 PM

51 mins: Omonia 1 Man Utd 0

United win a free kick on the edge of the area... Bruno Fernandes to take.

He steps up but Fabiano's is comfortably to it.

06:51 PM

48 mins: Omonia 1 Man Utd 0

Antony skips inside from the right, looking for a man in the middle... but he's tackled and Omonia clear their lines.

06:50 PM

46 mins: Omonia 1 Man Utd 0

Rashford looks to make an immediate impact. He cuts inside from the left and lets rip from outside the box... but that's high and wide. Not even a deflection.

06:49 PM

Second half begins

Two subs for United:

Luke Shaw is on for Tyrell Malacia.

Marcus Rashford is on for Jadon Sancho.

06:47 PM

And the replay

06:40 PM

Goal reaction

Omonia celebrate their goal - REUTERS
Omonia celebrate their goal - REUTERS

06:37 PM

Half time: Omonia 1 Man Utd 0

Well, the Omonia fans are loving this. Their team's goal was against the run of play, United dominating the possession, but the finish on the counter from Ansarifard was superb.

The goal rattled United and Omonia have grown into the game since scoring.

Neil Lennon's game plan has been spot on  – frustrating United time and time again and taking their chance when it presented itself.

Man Utd players react to the goal - Manchester United via Getty Images)
Man Utd players react to the goal - Manchester United via Getty Images)

06:34 PM

45+2 mins: Omonia 1 Man Utd 0 

Malacia tries to pick Casemiro out in the Omonia box, but the Brazilian is in an awkward position and can't direct his header goalward.

06:32 PM

45 mins: Omonia 1 Man Utd 0

Omonia come again, Ansarifard and Bruno as playmakers. They win a corner on the stroke of half time.

Two minutes of added time to come.

Charalambous has an effort from outside of the box, but it's wide.

06:28 PM

41 mins: Omonia 1 Man Utd 0

Eriksen takes on a shot from outside the area – we've seen him score those before – but there's a hooped shirt in the way.

06:26 PM

39 mins: Omonia 1 Man Utd 0

Barker is played in by Bruno. The former Man City youngster cuts inside and takes a shot on. Deflected out for a corner.

United look rattled out there.

06:25 PM

38 mins: Omonia 1 Man Utd 0

Scrappy in the United box. Lecjaks is having his shirt pulled, there is a quick check, but the VAR says there's nothing on.

Omonia are growing in confidence here. That goal has knocked United back.

06:22 PM

GOAL! Omonia 1 Man Utd 0 (Ansarifard, 33)

United free kick from the far right side. Eriksen to take. Miletic gets his head on – a good clearance, and now Omonia hit United on the break!

Wonderful play from Bruno, leading the Omonia counter attack from his own half. He plays Ansarifard in who coolly slots home.

Omonia fans - AFP
Omonia fans - AFP

06:18 PM

31 mins: Omonia 0 Man Utd 0   

A rare attack from Omonia. A lobbed cross from Barker from the right side of the United box, Dalot can only clip it out for a corner.

06:17 PM

29 mins: Omonia 0 Man Utd 0 

A lovely ball from Dalot, who has spotted Ronaldo's run across the box. It's defence splitting. The Portugal forward squares it across the box, but there are no red shirts in there – much to Ronaldo's frustration. Omonia clear.

06:14 PM

26 mins: Omonia 0 Man Utd 0 

Antony cuts inside from the right and takes on a shot with his left foot from the corner of the box. It's going into the top corner. curling in beautifully, but Fabiano dives across his line to keep the score level. Great effort – and save.

06:12 PM

25 mins: Omonia 0 Man Utd 0

Ronaldo takes, but he doesn't get the required dip on the ball. Fabiano's goal kick.

Ronaldo's free kick - Manchester United via Getty Images
Ronaldo's free kick - Manchester United via Getty Images

06:10 PM

24 mins: Omonia 0 Man Utd 0

Miletic has gone in hard on Ronaldo's achilles to tee up a 25-yard free kick, fairly central.

06:09 PM

23 mins: Omonia 0 Man Utd 0

Miletic covers the run from Sancho well and hoofs the ball down the line. He's recovered from his clash with the crossbar.

06:08 PM

Ronaldo's effort

Cristiano Ronaldo - REUTERS
Cristiano Ronaldo - REUTERS

06:05 PM

18 mins: Omonia 0 Man Utd 0   

Fernandes tries to chip the keeper – played in by Ronaldo – but it hits the crossbar! Ronaldo tries to get to the follow-up ball, but he's penalised for a high challenge.

Miletic has gone down after heading the crossbar. Looked painful that one.

06:03 PM

16 mins: Omonia 0 Man Utd 0 

Antony is played through, but he decides to square to Fernandes, and it's behind him. He probably should've tried to round the keeper there, who looked like he had committed himself.

06:01 PM

14 mins: Omonia 0 Man Utd 0 

Ronaldo tries to a toe-poke effort. He's played in by Sancho, swivels and gets the shot away. Deflected out for a corner. He's looked sharp so far.

05:58 PM

11 mins: Omonia 0 Man Utd 0

Patience will be key for United this evening. As expected, Omonia are sitting very deep. Ten Hag's men will be camped in the final third for most of the match, but will have to use some creativity to find the gaps through.

05:55 PM

8 mins: Omonia 0 Man Utd 0

Ronaldo has an effort saved. He's played in on the inside left channel by Antony in a smart United attack.

Closest United have come so far.

05:53 PM

6 mins: Omonia 0 Man Utd 0

Fernandes has a shot from outside the area, but it's charged down and deflected out for a throw. Omonia have so many players behind the ball.

05:52 PM

5 mins: Omonia 0 Man Utd 0 

Sancho lets one rip from outside the area. Wide. He didn't really get hold of that.

05:51 PM

4 mins: Omonia 0 Man Utd 0

Another tentative ball played over the top towards a charging Bruno Fernandes, but it's too far ahead of him. Fabiano gathers.

05:50 PM

3 mins: Omonia 0 Man Utd 0

Martinez tries to play Sancho in on the inside left channel, but he's shrugged off the ball. Omonia win a throw in their own half.

05:49 PM

2 mins: Omonia 0 Man Utd 0

Dalot loops a ball in from deep on the right into Bruno Fernandes. He gets a head on it, but Miletic gets across to steal the corner.

05:46 PM

Kick off!

Omonia get us under way.

05:45 PM

A moment of silence

For the  Indonesia stadium tragedy

05:43 PM

The players emerge out the tunnel; a reminder of the line ups

Omonia Nicosia: Fabiano, Matthews, Miletic, Yuste, Lang, Lecjaks, Diskerud, Charalambous, Barker, Bruno Felipe, Ansarifard.

Subs: Panayi, Loizou, Papoulis, Kitsos, Zachariou, Uzoho, Panagiotou, Kakoulli, Bezus.

Man Utd: De Gea, Dalot, Lindelöf, Martínez, Malacia, Casemiro, Eriksen, Antony dos Santos, Bruno Fernandes, Sancho, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Subs: Martial, Rashford, Fred, Heaton, Shaw, Pellistri, Dúbravka, Elanga, McTominay, Garnacho, Iqbal.

05:41 PM

Warm ups over

Cristiano Ronaldo  - REUTERS
Cristiano Ronaldo - REUTERS
Manchester United warm up - Getty Images
Manchester United warm up - Getty Images

05:40 PM

Omonia's fans are out in force tonight

Omonia's fans - AFP
Omonia's fans - AFP

05:39 PM

David Moyes' West Ham are at Anderlecht this evening

David Moyes - REUTERS/Yves Herman
David Moyes - REUTERS/Yves Herman

05:37 PM

Neil Lennon speaks with BT Sport before the match

We've tried to keep it low key as much as possible. For the club and the players it's a great privilege.

More than anything we've got to play the game and not the occasion.

I just want the players to do themselves justice. We have to try to get something out of the game to give us a foothold in the group.

[On Man Utd this evening]: They're great players, but they're beatable. To be fair I've got six or seven international players who have played at a high level anyway. I don't think it'll phase them too much.

I need my goalkeeper to play well, be really concentrated defensively and be brave on the ball going forward.

Neil Lennon - REUTERS
Neil Lennon - REUTERS

05:12 PM

Casemiro and Antony arriving – they both start tonight

Casemiro and Antony both start tonight - Getty Images
Casemiro and Antony both start tonight - Getty Images

05:03 PM

Team news: Cristiano Ronaldo and Casemiro start

Cristiano Ronaldo and Casemiro have been brought into a strong Man Utd starting line up for this evening.

The 37-year-old striker was an unused substitute in Sunday's 6-3 derby loss to City and former Real Madrid team-mate Casemiro comes in for just his second start since joining the Red Devils.

Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay make way, with Victor Lindelof replacing the injured Raphael Varane in Erik ten Hag's only other alteration.

Wales international Adam Matthews and former City prospect Brandon Barker start for Neil Lennon's Omonia.

04:55 PM

Team news: Omonia Nicosia's starting XI

Omonia Nicosia: Ribeiro de Freitas, Matthews, Miletic, Yuste, Lang, Lecjaks, Diskerud, Charalampous, Barker, Souza da Silva, Ansarifard.

Subs: Panayi, Loizou, Papoulis, Kitsos, Zachariou, Uzoho, Panagiotou, Kakoulli, Bezus.

04:52 PM

Team news is in: Manchester United's starting XI

Man Utd: De Gea, Dalot, Lindelöf, Martínez, Malacia, Casemiro, Eriksen, Antony dos Santos, Bruno Fernandes, Sancho, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Subs: Martial, Rashford, Fred, Heaton, Shaw, Pellistri, Dúbravka, Elanga, McTominay, Garnacho, Iqbal.

04:15 PM

Good afternoon!

Hello and welcome to Telegraph Sport's live coverage of Manchester United's Europa League Group E visit to Omonia Nicosia in Cyprus.

Erik ten Hag is without Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane for the visit to to the Med. Maguire is still recovering from the injury he picked up on England duty at the start of last week and Varane is out after limping off in the first half of United's collapse in the Manchester derby last Sunday.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Donny van de Beek remaining unavailable, whilst Phil Jones, Axel Tuanzebe and Brandon Williams are long-term absentees.

United are second in their group having beaten Moldovan club Sheriff but narrowly losing to group leaders Real Sociedad.

Omonia have lost both their games, but their rising star Loizos Loizou believes head coach Neil Lennon will give his side the edge against United and has credited the former Celtic boss with improving his game.

The 19-year-old Cyprus international said: "He can help us win. In his career as a coach he won a lot of trophies and titles. He knows how to win these titles."

"He knows the club expects a lot from me and he helped me to always be one of the best. He has helped me not to be scared of anyone.

"He puts me under a lot of pressure, I can feel the pressure and I like it. He expects a lot from me."

Cristiano Ronaldo is likely to start tonight having featured heavily in both of United's European fixtures. He's not started in the league since the infamous 4-0 defeat at Brentford in the middle of August.

Loizou is the youngest ever player and scorer for both club and country, having made his Omonia debut at 15. He is relishing the opportunity to face Ronaldo this evening.

He said: "I'm not nervous, I'm not scared, I'm very excited we will face Cristiano and United.

"Ronaldo is the best player in the world. If we give him even one chance, he will hurt us. This is why we have to try to stop him. He is the best killer in football.

"Even with his difficult time now, he's the best. We have to stop him. I watched all his games at Real Madrid. Now we're going to play against each other."