Istanbul (AP) – Manchester United’s attacking problems continued as they lost to Fenerbahce 2-1 in the Europa League on Thursday, leaving them at risk of a group-stage exit.
United beat Fenerbahce 4-1 at Old Trafford a fortnight ago, but arrived in Turkey after drawing with Burnley 0-0, a game they dominated and had 37 chances.
Again, Jose Mourinho’s side failed to convert a glut of possession into goals, but this time they also struggled to create opportunities. Their attacking intent increased briefly after Zlatan Ibrahimovic replaced the injured Paul Pogba half an hour in.
United’s struggles in front of goal, however, are being reflected by Ibrahimovic, who netted five goals in as many matches to get his United career off to a flying start, but has managed to score just once in the last 11 matches.
“They deserved to win. Football is not just about quality, it’s about effort, commitment, playing the limits, and giving everything,” Mourinho said. “A team that concedes a goal after two minutes is a team that is not ready, is a team that is not mentally prepared, not focused, not concentrated …
“After their second goal we had a reaction … but we didn’t deserve more. Our problem started in our attitude. They were playing the Champions League final and we were playing a summer friendly.”
United’s David De Gea was by far the busier goalkeeper.
Moussa Sow put Fenerbahce in front after only 66 seconds with a stunning overhead kick from just inside the area, and Jermaine Lens doubled the Turkish side’s lead with a magnificent free kick in the 59th, much to the delight of a raucous home crowd. De Gea hardly moved for it.
Wayne Rooney netted a late consolation, smashing the ball in from 30 yards to move level with Ruud van Nistelrooy on 38 European goals for United. The captain is two goals from tying Bobby Charlton’s record of 249 for United.
Fenerbahce leapfrogged United into top spot in Group A, level on points with Feyenoord, who drew at Zorya Luhansk 1-1. United slipped to third, one point off the pace.
Here’s a look at other matches:
SOUTHAMPTON 2, INTER MILAN 1
Inter Milan interim coach Stefano Vecchi knew he faced a daunting task when he stepped in for the sacked Frank de Boer just two days ago.
The first half went well for the youth team coach as Mauro Icardi fired Inter in front.
There was drama in first-half stoppage time as Southampton were awarded a somewhat soft penalty when the ball hit Ivan Perisic on the elbow. Inter players protested, and Antonio Candreva was fortunate not to be sent off after elbowing Sam McQueen in the face.
Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, a spot-kick specialist, dove to his left to keep out Dusan Tadic’s tame penalty attempt.
Southampton turned the match around in five second-half minutes.
A corner fell to Oriol Romeu, whose effort crashed off the crossbar, but Virgil van Dijk, who troubled Inter all match, fired in the rebound to level. Shortly after, McQueen’s deflected cross bounced off Yuto Nagatomo’s knee and past a hapless Handanovic.
Southampton remain second in Group K, two points behind Sparta Prague, who beat Hapoel Be’er Sheva 2-0. Inter are bottom, six points behind Sparta, with their only points coming from the home win against Southampton.
ATHLETIC BILBAO 5, GENK 3
Aritz Aduriz netted all five goals for Bilbao to hand the Spanish side a much-needed win in Group F. With two penalties, Aduriz put his side 3-1 up at the break. Genk closed to within one, but Aduriz scored his fourth and converted his third penalty in stoppage time.
Bilbao moved level on points with Genk on top of the group, one above Sassuolo and Rapid Vienna, who drew 2-2 in Italy after two goals in the final five minutes for the visitors.
Four sides qualified for the next stage, with two matches to spare.
Zenit St Petersburg and Shakhtar Donetsk just needed to avoid defeat, and the Russian side battled past Dundalk 2-1 in Group D, while Shakhtar won at KAA Gent 5-3 to clinch top spot in Group H.
Ajax also went through after beating Celta Vigo 3-2, while Schalke sealed their spot in the round of 32 with a 2-0 win over FK Krasnodar.