Arsenal through to last 16 as Manchester United squander lead again

By Sports Desk November 29, 2023

Arsenal secured their place in the last-16 of the Champions League with a scintillating 6-0 thrashing of Lens on a night where Manchester United’s participation in the competition hangs by a thread.

United were left to rue their inability to close out a match in Europe once again after they let slip a two-goal lead twice to draw 3-3 at Galatasaray.

Alejandro Garnacho and Bruno Fernandes scored inside 18 minutes before Andre Onana made the first of two errors to allow Hakim Ziyech to reduce the deficit.

Before Ziyech’s second, Scott McTominay found the net in the 55th minute to put Erik ten Hag’s team on course for a vital victory.

Yet Onana fumbled Ziyech’s set-piece over the line with 28 minutes left in Instanbul before Kerem Akturkoglu levelled with 71 minutes on the clock.

It finished all square to ensure Galatasaray still have their knock-out hopes in their own hands going into the final Group A fixture away to Copenhagen on December 12, while United must beat Bayern Munich and hope the clash in Denmark finishes as a draw.

Meanwhile, Copenhagen held Bayern to a thoroughly deserved goalless draw in Munich, which ended on a controversial note.

Minutes after Manuel Neuer had made an outstanding double save to deny ex-Celtic attacker Mohamed Elyounoussi, referee Stephanie Frappart awarded the hosts a penalty.

Frappart pointed to the spot after a pass by Bayern substitute Frans Kratzig hit Peter Ankersen’s arm from close proximity, but VAR told the French official to review the incident using the pitchside monitor and she overturned her 92nd-minute decision to ensure it stayed 0-0.

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Arsenal (@arsenal)

 

There was drama aplenty in Group B too but not at the Emirates where Arsenal produced a five-star first-half display to thrash Lens.

Mikel Arteta’s side were 5-0 up at half-time after goals by Kai Havertz, Gabriel Jesus, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard.

Jorginho added a sixth from the penalty spot late on for Arsenal, who guaranteed top spot and progression into the knockout phase.

PSV have joined them after Ricardo Pepi scored a stoppage-time winner to down nine-man Sevilla.

A 3-2 victory for PSV earlier in the day, coupled with Arsenal’s result, meant the Dutch outfit are guaranteed second spot.

Jude Bellingham scored again to help Real Madrid edge a six-goal thriller with Napoli in Group C.

Bellingham headed home in the first-half, but Carlo Ancelotti had to rely on late goals by Nico Paz and Joselu to beat Napoli 4-2.

Braga and Union Berlin played out a 1-1 draw in Portugal.

Inter Milan fought back from three goals down to draw 3-3 with Benfica in Group D.

Joao Mario struck a first-half hat-trick for Benfica against his old club, but last season’s runners-up staged an excellent fightback with Marko Arnautovic, Davide Frattesi and Alexis Sanchez on target.

Real Sociedad remain top of Group D despite being held to a goalless draw by RB Salzburg.

Related items

  • Leverkusen 'not interested' in unbeaten season before Europa League defeat, says Xhaka Leverkusen 'not interested' in unbeaten season before Europa League defeat, says Xhaka

    Bayer Leverkusen were "not interested" in maintaining their unbeaten record, according to Granit Xhaka, who acknowledged his frustrations after Wednesday's Europa League final disappointment.

    Xabi Alonso's Bundesliga champions had not suffered defeat since the final game of last season against Bochum, but succumbed to their next loss in the decisive moment against Atalanta in Dublin.

    Ademola Lookman stole the headlines with a remarkable hat-trick, powering Gian Piero Gasperini's team to their first title in 61 years, when Atalanta won the Coppa Italia.

    A 3-0 defeat ensured Leverkusen will have to settle for, at most, a domestic double as they look to bounce back on Saturday in the DFB-Pokal final.

    Yet Xhaka insisted Alonso's side never had the undefeated streak in their minds as soon as kick-off arrived at the Aviva Stadium.

    "Honestly, we're not interested in the unbeaten record," the former Arsenal midfielder said to RTL. "We didn't care about that from the start.

    "It's about the game and unfortunately we lost a final today. That's football.

    "We said yesterday that it would be a difficult game. Compliments to Atalanta."

    Leverkusen's unbeaten streak spanned nine months and 51 games this season, starting their 2023-24 campaign with a first-round DFB-Pokal thrashing of lowly Teutonia Ottensen in mid-August.

    Alonso's impressive men triumphed in 42 of those matches during their historic unbeaten run across all competitions, drawing the other nine as Leverkusen coasted to their first Bundesliga title in history.

    Scoring 143 goals and conceding just 39 across that dominant period, not many would have expected Gasperini's side to shutout Leverkusen and beat goalkeeper Matej Kovar three times in the process.

    Leverkusen are the first league-title winners to lose the UEFA Cup/Europa League final in the same season since Benfica in 2013-14, and the first German side to do since Borussia Dortmund in 2001-02.

    In single-game only finals, this was also the biggest margin of defeat for a German team since Eintracht Frankfurt lost 7-3 to Real Madrid in the 1960 European Cup, perhaps explaining Xhaka's annoyance.

  • 'We wrote history' – Gasperini and Lookman cherish Atalanta's Europa League glory 'We wrote history' – Gasperini and Lookman cherish Atalanta's Europa League glory

    Gian Piero Gasperini and Ademola Lookman both cherished creating Atalanta history after ending Bayer Leverkusen's unbeaten run and securing Europa League glory.

    Lookman produced a performance worthy of the most important European moment in Atalanta's history, securing the club's first-ever major trophy on the continent after his dazzling hat-trick.

    The Nigeria winger is just the sixth player to manage a treble in a major UEFA final and the first since Jupp Heynckes’ for Borussia Mönchengladbach against Twente in 1975.

    Lookman will be the toast of Bergamo when Gasperini's side head home, boasting their first trophy in 61 years – after the Coppa Italia – following a 3-0 triumph to end Leverkusen's 51-game unbeaten run.

    "One of the best nights of my life," the hat-trick hero told TNT Sports in Dublin.

    "Amazing performance from the team, we did it, we did it, we did it! I haven't got much else to say, but fantastic."

    Lookman is also just the second player to score a treble for an Italian side in the final of a major European competition, after Pierino Prati for Milan against Ajax in the 1969 European Cup

    Preparing to leave the Aviva Stadium with the Europa League trophy in hand, Lookman could not wait to celebrate a seismic moment in the club's history.

    "We've got to celebrate, we made history tonight," he added.

    Gasperini, aged 66 years and 117 days on Wednesday, is the oldest coach to win his debut major European final, and the second Italian coach to win the Europa League after Maurizio Sarri in 2019.

    The veteran Atalanta mastermind echoed Lookman's sentiment, after securing just a second trophy in the Italian club's history.

    "I think we wrote history, also for the way we won it," said Gasperini, speaking to UEFA's official media channels.

    "It was just extraordinary, we defeated Liverpool, Sporting who won the championship. When we faced Liverpool they were first in the Premier League... And now the German champions.

    "Incredible. The boys were extraordinary, a memorable performance."

  • Lookman etches name into Atalanta history after Europa League glory against Leverkusen Lookman etches name into Atalanta history after Europa League glory against Leverkusen

    Ademola Lookman will be the toast of Bergamo after his hat-trick inspired Atalanta to Europa League glory, ending Bayer Leverkusen's 51-game unbeaten run after a 3-0 defeat in Dublin.

    Nigeria winger Lookman is just the second player to score a treble for an Italian side in the final of a major European competition, after Pierino Prati for Milan against Ajax in the 1969 European Cup.

    His single-handed match-winning heroics secured Atalanta's first-ever major European trophy as they became the 10th different Italian side to do so, second only to teams from England (13).

    The records continued to tumble for Lookman, whose hat-trick was the sixth in a major UEFA final and the first since Jupp Heynckes’ for Borussia Mönchengladbach against Twente in 1975.

    Having no response to a performance for the ages, Leverkusen suffered their first defeat since their final game of the 2022-23 season, ending a 361-day unbeaten run from last losing 3-0 to Bochum.

    Gian Piero Gasperini's masterclass will etch his name into Atalanta history, with the Italian – aged 66 years and 117 days on Wednesday – the fourth oldest manager to win a major European trophy.

    Only Raymond Goethals (71y 231d, 1993 Champions League), Heynckes (68y 16d, 2013 Champions League) and Alex Ferguson (66y 142d, 2008 Champions League), have done so at an older age.

    Owing to Gasperini's genius and Lookman's quality, Atalanta are the first Italian side to lift the Europa League trophy since its rebrand in 2009, with Parma in 1999 the last Serie A side to win the UEFA Cup.

    Alonso will hope to bounce back in Saturday's DFB-Pokal final but the Bundesliga champions are the first team to win the league title but lose the UEFA Cup/Europa League final in the same season since Benfica in 2013-14, and the first German side to do since Borussia Dortmund in 2001-02.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.