Man Utd lose 3-2 thriller v Wolfsburg on dramatic see-saw night
Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | December 8, 2015
Wolfsburg 3-2 Manchester United
- Martial gets early opener from tight angle after Mata pass
- Wolfsburg reply almost immediately through defender Naldo
- Vieirinha put hosts ahead to round off wonderful passing move
- Drama in Eindhoven gives Man Utd hope but PSV beat CSKA 2-1
- United equalise through Guilavogui own goal, but Naldo’s second wins game
- Van Gaal’s men crash out of Champions League and into Europa League knockouts
Red Devils eliminated from Europe’s elite club competition
Just two teams had beaten Wolfsburg at home all season before this Champions League Group B battle – Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund – and Manchester United could not add to that list as they lost a 3-2 thriller.
Louis van Gaal’s men just had no luck on the night, starting early on when Marouane Fellaini and then Juan Mata prevented potential goals for their team, and finishing with late drama in Eindhoven where PSV momentarily went behind before seeing off CSKA Moscow. Man Utd will now be in the draw for the Europa League knockout phase.
Hosts Wolfsburg could have been 1-0 up in the third minute as former Chelsea forward Andre Schurrle – given a rare start – found himself one-on-one with David de Gea after a flick from Max Kruse, but he inexplicably fired it way over the bar.
In the ninth minute, meanwhile, United had their own unlucky moment, this time Mata’s seemingly goal-bound effort was blocked by his own teammate Fellaini.
Frantic first-half begins with Martial opener
But moments later, the Spaniard quickly put that disappointment behind him, to brilliantly pick out Anthony Martial through on goal, and the Frenchman expertly finished from a tight angle.
In what was a frantic, and understandably nervy, opening 15 minutes, giant defender Naldo got an immediate equaliser from a free-kick, in which he cleverly volleyed home from close range.
Wolfsburg’s happiness soon turned to shock, however, as they suffered the early loss of injury to key man Ricardo Rodriguez, who has incidentally been linked with a January move to Old Trafford to provide left back cover.
Fellaini had a fantastic chance of putting the visitors ahead again after 27 minutes from a corner, but his header was well saved by former Switzerland keeper Diego Benaglio on the line.
In an action-packed, end-to-end first-half, Die Wolfe went 2-1 up soon after. Vieirinha finished off a wonderful passing move.
Luckless United behind at half-time
German starlet Julian Draxler had the chance to put his team almost out of reach with five minutes of the half to go, doing well to weave his way past the Red Devils’ defence, but De Gea was at hand this time to palm away.
United’s luck got worse with a minute to go before the break, as Jesse Lingard found the net from out the area, but a late flag went up after the linesman adjudged that Mata was impeding the keeper.
The second-half was slow to get running, but on the hour mark United came agonisingly close to finding the equaliser. Memphis Depay did well to scissor-kick on goal, but Benaglio was equal to it.
De Gea nearly got caught out by Schurrle not long after, as he rushed out of his area in attempt to clear the ball, and had to clean up his own mess by pulling out a save from the top draw to claw out the German’s effort.
Mixed night for De Gea in net
Manuel De Gea https://t.co/gjOfjuqKhP
— Coral (@Coral) December 8, 2015
The Spaniard had to make another super stop almost immediately, with Schurrle causing problems once again. This time Lingard kicked it back to his own keeper in attempt to clear.
Early sub Marcel Schafer could and should have given his side a third goal from the resulting corner, but shot wide with a well-struck effort.
With Man Utd desperately needing goals, Van Gaal needed decided to make changes. Dangerman Mata and Bastian Schweinsteiger made way for fringe player Nick Powell and defensive-minded Michael Carrick on 69 minutes.
United fans nearly had something to cheers about in the 73rd, when Memphis’ free-kick looked to have been going in, but it just couldn’t quite curl enough and just whipped last the post.
Dramatic night ends with United Champions League exit
On a night of much drama, news came through to the fans in the 75th minute that CSKA Moscow had gone 1-0 up against PSV Eindhoven, which meant the Red Devils were on course to finish second in the pool. But just two minutes later, the Dutch side equalised, to put them back ahead of Man Utd.
With less than 10 minutes to go, yet more unbelievable drama occurred. Man Utd fired one back, after Fellaini’s header enforced Josuha Guilavogui to nod into his own net. But once again jubilation turned to misery, firstly Naldo got another goal and then PSV went 2-1 ahead.
United didn’t give up, however, and the likes of Chris Smalling and Lingard had goal-bound shots blocked.
But in the end, all their efforts were in vain and Man Utd will now be begrudgingly placed in the Europa League knockout rounds. The pressure will now surely be on Van Gaal, despite his side finally finding the net.
Check out more from our Champions League archive.