The first three rounds of the Champions League are done and dusted, and many clubs have been seen debuting their third kit (European away uniform). Among them are Manchester United, whose eye-catching black and white “Zebra” style strip has already been seen twice in the competition.
The Red Devils first wore the kit on Match Day 1 against Paris Saint-Germain in Paris and then on MD3 against Istanbul Basaksehir in Turkey last Wednesday before the international break. Both fixtures saw contrasting results- they ended up winning the game they were expected to lose, and lost the game they were expected to win!
Given the tough nature of the group (PSG, Leipzig and Manchester United), it was essential for the Red Devils to start well, and that’s exactly what they did in Paris, emerging 2-1 winners over last season’s finalists. United took the lead through Bruno’s penalty midway through the first half before Anthony Martial’s own goal on 55 minutes brought PSG level. Substitute Marcus Rashford however snatched victory for the visitors with a late winner, just as he had in the Champions League knockout clash between the two teams at the same venue eighteen months ago.
The second game with the Zebra kit however didn’t quite go the same way for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his men. They went into the clash on the back of a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Arsenal- the Gunners’ first league win at Old Trafford since 2006. Istanbul had suffered identical 2-0 losses in their opening two games, and had failed to find the back of the net in either of them.
The hosts knew they needed a result to keep their hopes alive, and that’s precisely what they managed. The opening goal came through some shocking United defending with everyone in the opposition half, and Istanbul produced a nice counter attacking move from a United corner that was eventually finished off by former Chelsea forward Demba Ba.
Another similar move saw Visca double the hosts’ advantage on 40 minutes and while Martial managed to pull one back, Istanbul, wearing a bright orange uniform, held their nerve to pick up three priceless points and open their account in Group H.
United’s third jersey thus brought them success in Paris, but could not prevent them from stumbling to a defeat in Istanbul on Match Day 3. Despite the loss, the Red Devils remain favourites for the repeat clash against the same opponents after the international break, with odds of -360 (2/7) at the time of writing.
The MD4 clash against Istanbul is at Old Trafford, where United demolished Leipzig 5-0 on MD2. The scoreline perhaps flattered United a bit, with Mason Greenwood’s opener also looking suspiciously offside, but it was nevertheless a good performance from OGS’ men against the German outfit.
United’s last game before the international break came a little over 48 hours after their Istanbul trip, and to their credit, they emerged 3-1 winners at Goodison Park against Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton. There were rumours of Solskjaer getting the sack after back to back defeats, but his side have bought him some more time thanks to that away win.
The win against Everton was primarily down to the genius of Bruno Fernandes, who grabbed a brace for himself and assisted Edinson Cavani for the Uruguayan’s first in United colours.