Wolfsburg, Dec 9 (IANS) VfL Wolfsburg moved 3-2 past Manchester United to eliminate the English football giants from European Champions League’s group stage at the Volkswagen Arena here.
Dieter Hecking’s men on Tuesday came from behind thanks to the brace by Naldo and Vieirinha’s goal to progress into the Champions League’s round of the last 16 for the first time in the club’s history. Meanwhile, Louis van Gaal’s men crashed out of the competition to move into the Europa League, reports Xinhua.
Wolfsburg needed a victory to secure the top spot in Group B whereas United were in need of a victory or a loss by Dutch side PSV Eindhoven to guarantee their progression.
United caught thus a fairy-tale start on the road as Juan Mata’s pinpoint pass into path found Anthony Martial, who slotted the opener past Wolfsburg keeper Diego Benaglio with 10 minutes played.
The hosts remained unimpressed and responded only four minutes later through Naldo, who volleyed home Ricardo Rodriguez’ cross into the box to restore parity.
Wolfsburg gained momentum and bounced back in the 29th minute after Julian Draxler solo effort and one-two with Max Kruse allowed Vieirinha to slot home into the open goal from very close range.
After the restart, both sides exchanged offensive actions keeping both custodians a busy. Wolfsburg keeper Benaglio defused Memphis Depay’s sideways scissor kick from inside the box before David de Gea was on guard twice to deny Andre Schuerrle’s attempts.
However, United were able to level the scores in the closing period as Joshua Guilavogui headed a clearance into the wrong goal. It looked like the visitors could secure their progression but Naldo nodded home a corner by Marcel Schaefer to snatch his brace and the 3-2 victory for Wolfsburg.
“Now it is over in the Champions League. We now have to wait until next year, but we have got enough to fight for, the FA Cup and the Premier League,” van Gaal said.
Hecking, who ensured the first knockout stage for Wolfsburg in the club’s history, added: “We deserved the victory today. My team executed well. However, United still had too many chances for my liking.”
With the result, Wolfsburg clinched the top spot in Group B meanwhile United slumped from the second to the third place to qualify for the Europa League.
The “Wolves” completed the group stage atop the table with 12 points followed by PSV Eindhoven (10 points), Manchester United (8 points) and CSKA Moskva (4 points).