Saturday, June 15

Manchester United slide out of Champions League

Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder #08 Bruno Fernandes and Manchester United Northern Irish defender #35 Jonny Evans react after the UEFA Champions League group A football match between Manchester United and FC Bayern Munich at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, north west England, on December 12, 2023. (Photo by PETER POWELL / AFP)

Manchester United crashed out of the Champions League on Tuesday and failed to even secure the consolation of a Europa League spot as Bayern Munich won 1-0 at Old Trafford.

United were toothless as Harry Kane and his Bayern teammates only needed one penetrating move to create Kingsley Coman’s winning goal.

They finish bottom of Group A as FC Copenhagen took the second qualifying spot behind Bayern following their 1-0 win over Galatasaray in front of a delirious Danish crowd.

The defeat is sure to heap more pressure on United manager Erik ten Hag, but the damage to his side was done earlier in the season when they failed to win three of their four games against Copenhagen and Galatasaray.

“We didn’t lose the campaign today. We had some good performances and also we made mistakes and individual errors from players,” Ten Hag said.

“Today the performance was good, we didn’t deserve to lose but we lost the game. The players gave everything.”

Kane meanwhile said he believes Bayern can make a strong run as they seek a seventh European crown in his first season in Germany.

“We have the ability to go far in this competition,” the England captain said.

“We have to keep improving. I feel we have another level we can achieve. That is the ambition, to go and win the Champions League.”

Danish joy
In contrast to the gloom in Manchester, there was joy in the Danish capital as FC Copenhagen qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League for just the second time in their history.

Lukas Lerager’s 58th minute goal was enough to see off Galatasaray as the Danish side overcame the odds in a group few pundits had expected them to progress from.

“I think it is an extraordinary achievement that a Danish team can advance. The group was so strong and full of so many world stars,” Copenhagen coach Jacob Neestrup said.

Reigning Italian champions Napoli secured their place in the knockout phase by beating Sporting Braga 2-0 at home, with newly crowned African Player of the Year Victor Osimhen completing the job after Serdar Saatci’s own goal.

Napoli finished second behind Group C winners Real Madrid, who had already won the group even before they beat Union Berlin 3-2 in the German capital.

Kevin Volland put Union ahead, but Joselu scored twice for Real and although Alex Kral equalised, Dani Ceballos notched the winner for the 14-time European champions in the 89th minute.

Last year’s beaten finalists Inter Milan finished second after a goalless draw with Group D winners Real Sociedad.

In the early matches, a much-changed Arsenal were held 1-1 at Dutch league leaders PSV Eindhoven but still top Group B.

Eddie Nketiah fired a low shot into the corner to put Arsenal ahead, but Yorbe Vertessen curled in an equaliser.

Sevilla finished bottom of that group after Lens scored a late winner in a 2-1 victory in northern France.

It means the Spanish side won’t even have the chance to add to their seven Europa League titles, with Lens grabbing third place in the group and a Europa League place.

Benfica also secured a late ticket to the Europa League after they beat Salzburg 3-1 in Austria to clinch third place in Group D. – AFP

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