United’s Champions League fate left in the balance
By Niall Clarke
- Manchester United draw 0-0 at home to PSV
- United’s fate will be decided in the last matchday
- Manchester City lose 1-0 away at Juventus
Manchester United’s Champions League fate will go down to the wire after a goalless draw at home to PSV Eindhoven.
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Wolfsburg’s 2-0 win away at CSKA Moscow took the German side to the top of the group in the early kick off, so it was up to the Red Devils to respond.
However, United could not find a way past a stubborn PSV defence leaving Group B finely poised heading into match-day six.
The result leaves Louis Van Gaal’s side one point behind Wolfsburg at the top of the group, with PSV hot on their heels just a point behind themselves. United will travel to Germany to face Wolfsburg in what will be a must win game for the Manchester club. Three points will seal qualification at the top of group B, but anything less and a PSV win at home to CSKA will send the Red Devils packing.
It was the English side that created the better chances but Jeroen Zoet had a fine game in the PSV goal to keep them out. Anthony Martial had the best of which in the first half, but could not find a way past the Eindhoven number one.
Van Gaal’s cautious tactics did not prove too fruitful, and the Dutchman turned to Marouane Fellaini to add something extra. However, the Belgian could not influence the game in any way. Jesse Lingaard had an excellent chance with an header, but the ball sailed wide of the mark.
United could not put the Dutch side under enough pressure, who In turn looked fairly threatening on the counter, but they could not create any significant opportunities.
When the final whistle sounded, boo’s rang around Old Trafford as United played out their fourth 0-0 draw in seven games. There were tributes to George Best on the 10th anniversary of his death, and they could have done with some of his magic tonight. Once again, it was overly cautious and uninspiring from United. They will need to improve when they travel to Wolfsburg.
City lose out in Turin
Fortunes for the Blue half of Manchester weren’t much better as the Old Lady proved too wise for Manchester City.
Juventus had previously beaten the Citizens at the Ethiad stadium and looked threatening in the early stages here with Paul Pogba looking particularly impressive in midfield.
The young Frenchman would play a hand in the opening goal with one his trademark bursting runs opening up space on the flank for Alex Sandro to cross into a grateful Mario Manduzkic who volleyed home. Sandro was set to agree terms to join City at the end of the season on a free transfer from Porto, but Juventus stole him for £24 million.
Mandzukic appeared to have fouled Nicolas Otamendi on his way to steering the ball past a helpless Joe Hart, but replays showed the Argentine was already off balance when the cross came in.
The Manchester City number one would have a fine game in goal, proving some key saves to keep his side in the game. Unfortunately Hart would not see out the game after being taken off with a hamstring injury. Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure and Raheem Sterling would all have chances to equalise, but the Juventus defence would prove too hard to break down.
Once again it was a performance in a European big game that was not good enough for the Premier League outfit. Once again the midfield was outclassed, particularly by Pogba who looked every penny of his 100 million euro evaluation. City have already qualified but currently look like finishing in second place which could result in a tough round of 16 draw.
Elsewhere in the group, Borussia Monchengladbach were impressive in a 4-2 victory over Sevilla in an exciting game. The Spanish side have been disappointing this campaign, whilst the appointment of Andre Schubert has revitalised Gladbach. If only they could have picked up some results at the start?
Zlatan Ibrahimovic made a happy return to his first club Malmo, scoring in a 5-0 route for his side Paris Saint Germain. The French Champions had ‘Je Suis Paris’ printed on their shirt in tribute to the lives lost in the Paris attacks. Elsewhere in the group, Real Madrid survived a late scare to see of Shakhtar Donestk 4-3. The Spaniards led the game 4-0, but a late comeback almost left them embarrassed.
Atletico Madrid meanwhile secured a last 16 place with a 2-0 home win against Galatasaray. Benfica could only manage a 2-2 draw in Astana in the early kick off.
The Champions League returns on Tuesday the 8th December
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