Manchester United crashed out of the Champions League on Tuesday after a 3-2 defeat at Wolfsburg, as the Germans punched their ticket to the last 16 along with Group B rivals PSV Eindhoven. Louis van Gaal’s United made a promising start at the Volkswagen Arena as Anthony Martial handed them a tenth-minute lead but the Red Devils’ poor defending at set-pieces cost them dearly with Naldo equalising shortly after.
Julian Draxler set up Vieirinha to round off a sublime team move and put Wolfsburg 2-1 ahead just before the half hour. But United clawed their way back into the game eight minutes from time when Josuha Guilavogui headed into his own net. However, Naldo grabbed his second of the night shortly after as he headed home a corner to consign United to a third-place finish and a spot in the last 32 of the Europa League.
Its a huge blow to United boss Louis van Gaal who keeps talking about how United are improving under his direction. But even David Moyes managed to guide United into the knockout stages of the Champions League in his one season in charge at Old Trafford. After spending £260m on new players, questions are being rightly asked whether van Gaal is he really the right man for the job. The Christmas period could be a decisive time because if United fall out of the top four, will be survive?
To make a miserable night even worse for United fans, cross-town rivals Manchester City finished top of their group after a come-from-behind 4-2 victory over Borussia Moenchengladbach, while Juventus lost 1-0 defeat at Sevilla. Amazingly Juve took all six points from City but still managed to finish behind them in the group.
France striker Karim Benzema also scored his first hat-trick for five years, while Mateo Kovacic added his first goal for the Spanish giants. Paris Saint-Germain eased to a 2-0 victory at home to Shakhtar Donetsk with second-half goals from Lucas and Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the Parc des Princes. Laurent Blanc’s side were already guaranteed to finish second in the group behind Real, exposing the French champions to the possibility of facing European champions Barcelona or Bayern Munich when the draw for the last 16 is made next Monday at UEFA headquarters in Nyon.
Atletico Madrid wrapped up first place in Group C as they avenged an earlier home loss to Benfica with a 2-1 victory in Lisbon. Saul Niguez’s first-half strike put Diego Simeone’s men in front before Luciano Vietto netted a second on 55 minutes, with Kostas Mitroglou grabbing a consolation for the hosts.
Galatasaray denied Astana a famous first group stage win and the chance to continue their continental adventure in the Europa League as Selcuk Inan cancelled out Patrick Twumasi’s opener in a 1-1 draw in Turkey.