Manchester United got a taste of what might have been as Bayern Munich defeated Erik ten Hag’s struggling team to win their Champions League opener. Harry Kane was a key contributor to Bayern Munich’s victory.
It was no secret that the Red Devils would have loved to have recruited Kane from Tottenham in the summer, but instead, England’s captain and record goalscorer chose for a career in Germany that has began in fantastic fashion. The Red Devils would have liked to have signed Kane from Tottenham.
At the Allianz Arena on Wednesday, the 30-year-old player recorded both an assist and a goal from the penalty spot to bring his goal total for this season to five in five games across all competitions. A VSR check determined that Christian Eriksen had handled the ball within the penalty area, which led to the awarding of the penalty.
It was a timely shot from Kane as well, as it came just after Rasmus Hojland had scored his first United goal to make it 2-1 early in the second half and give his side some hope of a victory. Kane’s goal came shortly after Hojland’s goal also gave his team some hope of a result.
Before that, Andre Onana, the goalkeeper for the away team, made a surprising error that allowed Leroy Sane’s drive to get under him and into the net in the 28th minute. This undid the disciplined start that the away team had gotten off to.
After another four minutes, Serge Gnabry increased the lead to 2-0 with a low shot that was placed perfectly inside the far post.
It is to the credit of the away team that they came out fighting to try to create a contest out of it; but, their current frailty and lack of options from the bench as a result of several injuries hindered their ability to compete with the home team.
Casemiro’s persistent resolve to sneak a second goal in for United gave them a glimmer of hope, but Mathys Tel’s thumping of a Bayern fourth high into the net in additional time put an end to that dream. United lost 4-1.
Casemiro scored a goal for United by heading in a free-kick that Bruno Fernandes had taken from close range with virtually the very last kick of the game, but it was too late. United had already lost.
Even if FC Copenhagen and Galatasaray, who tied 2-2 earlier on Wednesday in Istanbul, are both more beatable in the group, a loss in the opening game against the six-time defending champions of Europe will not define the campaign. However, they are in desperate need of a response to restore some focus and hope.
There was some fighting, but the United States showed too much weakness.
After making significant advancements throughout the 2022-2023 campaign, United are once again encountering turbulent seas.
Ten Hag appeared to have righted one of the largest ships in European football during the previous season. This came after the failed stint of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the ill-advised interim experiment with Ralf Rangnick.
Following the club’s return to the Champions League and the achievement of winning a major trophy for the first time in six years, anticipation for the upcoming season was high at the organization.
But after suffering three losses in the first five games in the league, which is their worst start in the league in a decade, this quickly evaporated, and now they must process a humiliating beginning to their European campaign.
It might have turned out differently. Within the first five minutes, they had the opportunity to take the lead and arguably should have done so as well. A quick tackle by Alphonso Davies prevented Facundo Pellistri from tapping in, but it also set up Christian Eriksen to shoot an effort from close range that was saved by Sven Ulreich.
Similarly, if they had been able to test Bayern’s determination for a longer period of time at the beginning of the second half rather than surrendering again within the first five minutes of the half, they may have been able to take something from the game.
And then towards the end of the game they showed fight to manufacture Casemiro’s double, only for that to be rendered meaningless by the easy concession of a fourth goal by them.
This United team has been undone by early-season results, injuries, and expensive moments of ineptitude throughout the season.
The blunder made by Onana was a surprise, and it is the kind of mistake that a team with such brittle confidence can ill afford to make. It was then followed by a stretch in which the players appeared content to hide rather than rally together when confronted with adversity.
Before the game on Wednesday, Ten Hag bemoaned the fact that he had never fielded his strongest XI during the course of his career. Perhaps it is only fair to judge him and his side this season when they are closer to being at that level?
However, United still possesses a talented roster, and the team must not only triumph at Burnley on Saturday, but it must also do so in a manner that is convincing.
Kane contributes to Bayern setting the early pace, which he helps to do.
The performance of Bayern was not up to par. They have not been so over a significant portion of this season. They were also without their manager, Thomas Tuchel, who was serving a suspension, thus assistant coach Zsolt Low was the one in command on the sidelines.
However, they are a winning machine, and with Kane leading the attack, supplemented by Sane, Gnabry, and Musiala, they will be a test for any defense on the continent, let alone one that is currently as shaky as United’s.
Kane performed what needed to be done, despite the fact that it was not his greatest game and he was all over the place during it. His deft setting up of the play allowed for the opening goal, and he didn’t make a single mistake with the cruel penalty he took.
They should have scored more goals, since they hit the post twice after the break, and they did enable United to have a footing in the game; but, it is still really astonishing how quickly they can move up through the gears.
The current unbeaten streak for the German champions in the group stage of this competition stands at 35 games, while their home record stands at 15 wins in a row. They will have an early advantage in controlling Group A.