Wayne Rooney’s late long-range strike was not enough to salvage a draw for Manchester United as they lost 2-1 to Fenerbahce in the Europa League.
Moussa Sow’s second-minute overhead kick and a second-half Jeremain Lens free kick had put the Turkish side in a commanding position as Paul Pogba limped off injured.
United, who are winless in their last nine European away games having lost eight of them, made three changes with Rooney, Anthony Martial and Morgan Schneiderlin coming into the side in place of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard.
But they made the worst possible start to the game, falling behind in spectacular fashion in the second minute when Hasan Ali Kaldirim’s left-wing cross was met clinically by Sow.
Jose Mourinho’s side struggled to find their rhythm and create any clear cut opportunities against an organised Fenerbahce defence, their best chance coming after 21 minutes when Martial found Rooney in space in the 18-yard box but a heavy touch let him down and took the ball away from him.
United were handed another blow when Pogba was forced out of the game in the 29th minute with a dead leg after a challenge from Josef de Souza. The France international tried to play on but was eventually replaced by Ibrahimovic with Rooney dropping back into midfield.
Sow had a chance to score a second goal of the evening shortly before half-time when he beat Daley Blind to Alper Potuk’s right-wing cross but headed over from close range.
Mata replaced Schneiderlin ahead of the second-half meaning, as well as the Spaniard, United had the attacking talents of Rooney, Rashford, Martial and Ibrahimovic on the pitch but it failed to spark them into life and their night soon went from bad to worse.
Fenerbahce doubled their advantage in the 59th minute when Jeremain Lens’ sweetly struck free kick, which came about as the result of an Ibrahimovic foul, left De Gea wrong-footed.
Jose Mourinho responded immediately by making his final substitution, introducing Henrikh Mkhitaryan in place of Rashford but it was a Fenerbahce change that almost produced a third goal.
Emmanuel Emenike, on for Volkan Sen, came close to converting a Lens cross after Luke Shaw had been caught out of position in the 69th minute. And seven minutes later the Nigerian came close again with a long shot that De Gea had trouble controlling.
Out of nowhere Rooney struck with just one minute of normal time remaining but United were unable to conjure a second and earn an unlikely point.
That defeat, a second in four Europa League games this season, leaves United third in Group A on six points, and one point behind Feyenoord and Fenerbahce.