Manchester United’s Champions League campaign got off to a nightmare start as Jordan Siebatcheu’s stoppage strike earned Young Boys a famous 2-1 victory over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s 10-man team in Switzerland.
Three and a half months after losing the Europa League final to Villarreal on penalties, the Red Devils were set to return to continental action with a straight win after Cristiano Ronaldo’s opener.
The Portuguese’s 135th Champions League goal came as the returning striker tied Iker Casillas’ record for appearing in the competition, but the 36-year-old will want to forget his 177th game.
The 35th minute of Aaron Wan-Bissaka sent off for a brash challenge over Christopher Martins Pereira changed the dynamics of the game, with Nicolas Moumi Ngamaleu equalizing before Siebatcheu struck to death.
Few could argue that the Swiss champions – led by former Huddersfield boss David Wagner – did not deserve the result on a night their performance was as impressive as United’s poor.
Moumi Ngamaleu sent Stadion Wankdorf wild during leveling and substitute Siebatcheu took advantage of a formidable back pass from Jesse Lingard to strike a superb save kick in the first match of Group F.
Young Boys players celebrated with their fans long after the final whistle – and who could blame them for playing the Premier League stars’ second fiddle before the game.
Local fans held up signs asking for Ronaldo’s jersey during the warm-up, as even his shots were applauded. One of them allegedly hit a flight attendant and he went to check that they were not seriously injured.
The atmosphere grew stronger as the kick-off approached at Stadion Wankdorf, where Meschack Elia seemed lively in the opening stages and hit wide.
But Young Boys ‘confident play fell short of Bruno Fernandes’ quality moment in the 13th minute.
Fred cut a pass and launched a counterattack, Fernandes sending a stunning cross from the left with the outside of his boot to Ronaldo, whose effort squeezed the legs of David Von Ballmoos.
But the early punch didn’t dull their players’ home support or intensity, with Wagner’s side continuing to question United defense.
David De Gea made a solid save to deny the impressive Christian Fassnacht midway through the first half, with United stopping quickly as his counterpart Von Ballmoos thwarted Ronaldo.
Michel Aebischer missed the target against a United side whose delicate evening was made even more difficult 10 minutes before halftime.
Trying to recover the ball after a heavy first touch, Wan-Bissaka only managed to leave his crampons in Martins Pereira’s ankle. Referee François Letexier gave the right-back a red card.
Solskjaer replaced Jadon Sancho with Diogo Dalot in an effort to balance a defense that heaved a sigh of relief when Fassnacht passed out.
Vincent Sierro had a hopeful attempt before half-time gave the visitors a chance to regroup, with Raphael Varane featured as United fell to five behind.
The visitors sat down and absorbed the pressure, but looked set to double their advantage in the 54th minute, when Ronaldo came through and fell under pressure from Mohamed Ali Camara. No penalty was awarded to the dismay of the striker.
It was a rare forward trip in a shocking display by United in the second half, which faced waves of attacks without a consistent ball.
Varane was booked for wasting time as the whistles echoed around a pitch where frustration turned to exhilaration in the 66th minute.
After breaking in and helping the ball go wide, Moumi Ngamaleu continued into the box and directed a cross in front of De Gea.
It was a goal coming and Solskjaer pulled Fernandes and Ronaldo out in an attempt to close the hatches.
But the hosts continued to destabilize, with a break to deal with a pitch invader giving United some breathing space.
Moumi Ngamaleu struck in front of goal as the clock ticked and De Gea seemed to have secured a point for the visitors by stopping Sandro Lauper’s effort superbly.
But the Young Boys continued undeterred and found a winner in the fifth and final minute of the timeout. Substitute Lingard played a brainless backpass which Siebatcheu lapped and knocked past De Gea.