Manchester United crashed out of the Champions League last night with a 3-2 defeat at Wolfsburg, who made club history by reaching the knockout stages.
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Wolfsburg advanced as Group B winners thanks to their comeback win at the sold-out Volkswagen Arena, while the defeat puts United manager Louis van Gaal under pressure with his side now winless in their last four games.
PSV Eindhoven’s 2-1 win at home to CSKA Moscow allowed the Dutch to claim second place at Manchester’s expense as third-placed United now drop into the Europa League.
United arrived in Wolfsburg without injured striker Wayne Rooney and short on goals after scoring just once in drawing their three previous games. But that problem was solved inside the opening 10 minutes as the Red Devils took an early lead.
The game started at a blistering pace as Wolfsburg winger Andre Schurrle cannoned his shot over the bar with only David de Gea to beat in the opening minutes.
United went ahead when Juan Mata threaded a pass through the Wolfsburg defence for Anthony Martial to fire past Diego Benaglio low into the left corner. But the hosts replied just four minutes later when left-back Ricardo Rodriguez, who injured himself in the process, fired in a free-kick which centre-back Naldo guided into the back of the United net.
Wolfsburg took the lead with a superb goal when Julian Draxler beat two United players and played a one-two with Max Kruse to offer Vieirinha a simple tap-in.
Draxler should have made it 3-1 when he smacked his shot at De Gea moments later, after delaying when put one-on-one with the keeper.
United looked to have equalised just before the break when Jesse Lingard curled home a cross from outside the area, but the linesman spotted Mata was offside and obscuring the vision of Benaglio.
After a string of saves from De Gea to keep United in the contest – including one from Schurrle who tried to lob him from 35 yards – the Red Devils got the goal they craved on 82 minutes when Marouane Fellaini headed down from a corner and Josuha Guilavogui steered the ball into his own net.
But they were level for just a matter of seconds as Naldo was left unmarked from a corner and headed inside the near post. Desperate defending from Wolfsburg in the dying stages kept United out as the Premier League side piled on the pressure, but to no avail.