Substitutes Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial provided a comeback win in Cyprus as Manchester United survived a scare against Neil Lennon’s Omonia Nicosia in the Europa League.
Erik ten Hag’s Red Devils completed the 2,100-mile journey for Thursday’s Group E encounter after suffering Sunday’s sobering 6-3 derby defeat to rivals Manchester City.
The United manager thanked Pep Guardiola’s side for the ‘reality check’ ahead of the trip to Cyprus, where Omonia threatened an even bigger shock after Karim Ansarifard scored a dream opener for the hosts.
But former Celtic boss Lennon failed to celebrate a famous win as Rashford’s brace and a Martial strike set the stage for a comeback win that ended 3-2 thanks to Nikolas Panayiotou’s late goal.
Victory in Nicosia kept United’s knockout ambitions on course and was a result few saw as Cristiano Ronaldo and Casemiro came into a surprisingly strong line-up.
It looked more like the visitors would score during a one-sided opening period, only for Tyrell to dispossess Malacia and Bruno to lead a break that ended in an Ansarifard home shot.
Ten Hag made changes to turn things around at GSP Stadium and they worked brilliantly.
Half-time introduction Rashford scored an excellent finish to equalize and Martial scored two minutes after replacing Fernandes with a fine strike of his own.
Ronaldo hit a post looking for his 700th goal but shortly after his cross came on from Rashford, Panayiotou pulled one back as United struggled for victory on a surprisingly challenging night.
United are now turning their attention to the league trip to Everton before next Thursday’s visit to Omonia, who have added Wales international Adam Matthews and ex-City candidate Brandon Barker to their starting line-up.
The hosts fell behind from the start, goalkeeper Fabiano saving a Ronaldo snap.
Antony should have rounded the Omonia goalkeeper or produced a better pass for Bruno as United continued to climb, the latter seeing an effort loop up the crossbar shortly after.
Fabiano made an exceptional one-handed save to prevent Antony from curling superbly home while Omonia struggled, only to capitalize on the lax defense and land a stunning punch in the 34th minute.
With players ready to attack a Christian Eriksen free-kick, Jadon Sancho played back at Malacia as the first cross cleared and the left-back was all too easily dispossessed by Bruno.
The Brazilian led a quick Omonia counterattack and played cool in Ansarifard to superbly pass David De Gea.
It was a brilliant break that kept United rocking for the rest of the first half.
Luke Shaw came on for Malacia at the break and Sancho was replaced by Rashford, who scored within eight minutes of coming on.
Fernandes sent a long ball forward to Rashford, who recovered from a poor first touch to get into space cleared by a smart Ronaldo run and hit a low curling shot from the edge of the box.
Eriksen, Antony and Ronaldo struggled as United took the lead with Martial replacing Fernandes – another change that paid off immediately.
Two minutes after his 61st-minute introduction, the France international collected a nice Rashford streak and continued to hit Fabiano with a flat shot.
There was a scare when Bruno was put through but the Omonia player just couldn’t make a clean connection with the ball as he tried to lift over De Gea.
Ronaldo missed a glorious chance to end the game when Diogo Dalot kept his cool under pressure from Fabiano and ran into his compatriot who somehow hit the near post and had the goal in his hands.
The 37-year-old’s frustration at not scoring was as clear as his joy when Rashford deflected his shot from across the far post in the 84th minute.
But Omonia ensured there would be a frantic finish a minute later when Victor Lindelof was caught and Panayiotou fired in home-mate Andronikos Kakoullis’ cross.
Fred forced Fabiano into action from long range and Ronaldo hit wide in added time as the clock ran out.
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/manchester-united-marcus-rashford-cyprus-bruno-fernandes-cristiano-ronaldo-b2197337.html Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial fuel Manchester United’s comeback in Nicosia