Manchester United Champions League hopes rely on the man who ended them this season

Man Utd crashed out of the Champions League and face an uphill challenge to qualify for the competition again.
United threw away some cheap goals as they drew 3-3 against GalatasarayUnited threw away some cheap goals as they drew 3-3 against Galatasaray
United threw away some cheap goals as they drew 3-3 against Galatasaray

Manchester United's trip to Brentford on Saturday night was one of the lowest points in the season, yet it could have been even worse.

Against all the odds, they somehow managed to escape with a point, and it could have quite possibly been three had Mason Mount's stoppage time strike not been cancelled out by an even later effort by Kristoffer Ajer. For United supporters, there was something so painfully predictable about the way their side came crashing back down to earth after ridding the giddy excitement of their FA Cup quarter-final win over Liverpool.

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Amid the comedy of errors, it is rather fitting that The Simpsons springs to mind. There is a moment in the movie when Bart claims to have experienced the 'worst day of his life', only for Homer to correct him by adding, 'the worst day of your life so far.' United have had low points, yet there could be even lower ones yet to come.

It is rather remarkable that at this stage of the season United could still win the FA Cup and qualify for the Champions League. Although the word 'could' is certainly doing a lot of the heavy lifting right now. Erik ten Hag admitted the poor performance wasn't good enough on Saturday night, yet he also added that it could still be a valuable point towards their target of a top-five finish, and a place in next year's premier club competition.

There is great irony too, that those hopes of Champions League qualification are being kept alive by the man who contributed directly to their humiliating early exit from the competition this season.

Andre Onana had shone as Inter Milan reached the final a year ago, yet his poor performances were a key reason why United finished bottom of their group this time around. The Cameroonian was at fault for six of the 15 goals conceded, with inexcusable errors for a couple of them.

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It's hard to ignore Onana's European form when evaluating his debut season at the club, yet it has also been rather misleading. While he cost them in the Champions League, he has been much better in domestic competition and is now saving them points instead.

It is well documented that lately United have dealt with more shots than you'd expect to see on a Club 18-30 holiday in Magaluf, with the club conceding more than any other team in the Premier League so far this calendar year.

Yet, amid the bombardment on their goal, Onana has stood strong. Not only has he kept eight clean sheets across the campaign, (only David Raya has recorded more), but no goalkeeper has prevented more expected goals than the 5.01 Onana has denied in the Premier League this season. He was the unsung hero of the Brentford draw with a number of fine stops, including a world-class double save to deny the home side the lead in the second-half of the match.

While they would much prefer if the 28-year-old went under the radar for the remainder of the campaign, there is at least some positive news in the fact he has settled into the role to become such a reliable shot-stopper in the United goal.

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With so many more big matches on the horizon, Ten Hag will take confidence from the trust he has in his goalkeeper. And although it is far easier said than done, he will be well aware that if they manage to reduce the number of efforts on goal, then there is still reason why this campaign could have a positive ending.

Onana's errors ended the Champions League dream this season. Now he's the one keeping them alive.

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