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Turkish Delight: Manchester United and Fenerbahce have a split history in Europe

Manchester United face Fenerbahçe in the third group stage match in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday night at Old Trafford. United are in a difficult period of matches, drawing against Liverpool at Anfield on Monday night, entertaining the Turkish side this evening, travelling to Chelsea on Sunday and then the second Manchester derby at Old Trafford this season in the EFL Cup next Wednesday, so there are some big games on the horizon for Jose Mourinho’s side. United will have had less than three days before facing Fenerbahce, two days before facing Chelsea and then a three-day break before facing Manchester City, who were defeated by Barcelona, the side they aspire to be (far from it) in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday evening. United and Fenerbahçe have met four times, albeit in the UEFA Champions League, which makes this match worth of a Champions League group stage match. United have won twice, one a spectacular 6-2 victory, winning on another occasion, then losing the other two encounters.

Fenerbahçe 0-2 Manchester United – UEFA Champions League – Wednesday 16th October 1996

The first encounter between the two sides in the 1996/97 season. Sir Alex Ferguson led his Manchester United side against Sebastiao Lazaroni’s Fenerbahçe with David Beckham and Eric Cantona scoring to fire United to victory. This was a good year for United as the likes of Gary Neville, Nicky Butt,  and David Beckham were coming through the ranks and making their presences known, which in just under three years time would see Ferguson’s men reach the promised land, winning that all elusive treble. Winning the Champions League was not meant to be this season, falling to Borussia Dortmund in the semi-finals was the furthest this United side would get, which would soon see the end of Cantona, one of the stars of the team at the time.

Manchester United 0-1 Fenerbahçe – UEFA Champions League – Wednesday 30th October 1996

The second match in the double-header between the two sides in the group stages saw United beaten 1-0, a side relatively unchanged which still contained David Beckham, Gary Neville, and Nicky Butt, with the addition of Phil Neville and Paul Scholes being substitutes in the match. United obviously got out of the group stages, so this defeat was not all that costly, but to lose in the fourth match in the group stages was not the best. United eventually finished in second place in the group, seven points behind Juventus, with the Turkish side finishing third. United’s defeat was not all that costly, but could have been so different, should United have got the result they wanted.

Manchester United 6-2 Fenerbahçe – UEFA Champions League – Tuesday 28th September 2004

The best match between the two sides. Wayne Rooney made his Manchester United debut against the Turkish giants, a match where his presence was not expected, but his talent had been seen many times, which was one of the reasons Sir Alex Ferguson paid the money Everton wanted. Ryan Giggs took the lead for United in just seven minutes, which was a great start. Ten minutes after that, Rooney scored his first goal of the match, announcing himself on the European stage on his first United match, which is something that has been matched by Marcus Rashford already. Eleven minutes later, Rooney scored his second goal, putting United 3-0 up. At the start of the second half, Fenerbahçe scored their first goal of the evening through Marcio Nobre, just a minute after the restart. Rooney completed his hat-trick eight minutes later, changing the score to 4-1 with United running wild. Five minutes later, Tuncay scored for the visitors, their second and final goal of the evening. 4-2, game on. But United were not finished. Twelve minutes from time, Ruud van Nistelrooy scored United;s fifth goal of the evening with David Bellion scoring the last goal of the night just three minutes later. It was not United’s first big result in Europe and was not their last, but the Turkish side left Old Trafford humiliated.

Fenerbahçe 0-2 Manchester United – UEFA Champions League – Wednesday 8th December 2004

After the 6-2 humiliation, Fenerbahçe would be looking for revenge in the final group stage match of the UEFA Champions League. United were in the same group as Lyon and Sparta Prague, and before this match were top in the group with Lyon in second place. United were through to the knockout stages whatever happened, so Sir Alex Ferguson made some changes to his team. A 20-year-old Darren Fletcher and Kieran Richardson, 19-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo and 23-year-olds Eric Djemba-Djemba and Liam Miller all started the match. An 18-year-old Jonathan Spector, 17-year-old Gerard Pique, and 19-year-old Chris Eagles were all substitutes in the match. Fenerbahçe won the match 2-0, finished third in the group, but was not good enough to displace any teams above them. United were through to the knockout stages by coming second in the group with Lyon beating Sparta Prague 5-0 to top the group. United went onto face Milan in the knockout stages, losing 1-0 in both legs and exiting the tournament.

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