By Imran Kardar
The fear of the millions of Manchester United fans around the world came to reality as Manchester United were dumped out of the Champions League at the hands of Wolfsburg when they lost 3-2 in Germany. I, personally, wasn’t too surprised at the result as I thought that United let go of a golden opportunity at home versus PSV to confirm their qualification in the knockout stage. Last round, must win, away matches are always going to be tricky. But this match turned out to be a seesaw battle with the PSV and CSKA game playing a big part.
United started on the right foot by getting the opening goal when Mata played a brilliant defense splitting pass that Martial ran on to and put past the keeper. Millions of fans must have gotten a ray of hope. I for one thought that if we get the first goal then United’s solid defense can see things out. But sadly, the defense had a shocker on the night. Few minutes later Wolfsburg equalized of a set peace that Naldo put past DDG. Wolfsburg grew in to the game and United looked shaken after conceding. Later on Draxler practically ran past the whole United defense, played a one two, passed it back and Vierinha scored. Wolfsburg were now dominant and United’s confidence was shot. United did have a goal ruled out for offside which was a highly debatable decision. The new off side rule was raised more question marks than making things clearer. I would not blame that ruled out goal for United’s loss but you can never say had it stood would United have made it through.
In the second half credit should be given to United for trying to score and force their qualification. Again United had many chances but they didn’t manage to put the ball in the back of the net. When the goal did come it was an own goal and United at 2-2 were qualifying as CSKA had scored and PSV were losing. However, moments later PSV equalized and even now United were still through. That is until after another poor defensive showing Wolfsburg scored their third. Roughly the same time PSV scored the winner. United now needing two goals in five minutes to make it through. Sadly for United and their fans they weren’t scoring. Manchester United were dumped out of the Champions League and now will have to apply their trade in the Europa League.
The match proved to be a disaster for the team. There were more questions raised about the team and management than answered. There were some highly questionable substitutions like taking off Mata and putting on Powell. Also starting Varela instead of Young at right back and then still not brining on an attack minded Young when Darmian was force off with an injury. These are some real howlers by LVG. Yes, I’m sure there is a justification for it but there can’t be a rational justification for some of those moves. LVG will have to shoulder a lot of blame for this game, though United did have the intent to attack in the game.
Well, in the end United are now out of the elite European stage and on to tier 2. This can prove even trickier for United due to the scheduling of the Europa league and how that plays havoc with the league. Now LVG’s job is to try and manage the two leagues simultaneously, a task often proven too difficult even for the best managers out there.