Football

Manchester United knocked out of Champions League after 3-2 defeat by Leipzig

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE, GP H
RB LEIPZIG MANCHESTER UNITED
3 2
(Angelino 2, Amadou Haidara 13, Justin Kluivert 69) (Bruno Fernandes 80-pen, Ibrahima Konate 82-og)

RB Leipzig scored twice in the opening 13 minutes, but had to survive a late comeback from Manchester United to cling on to a 3-2 win on Wednesday morning (Dec 9, Singapore time) that sent them into the Champions League knockout stage and eliminated the English side. 

The German outfit, semi-finalists last season, were totally dominant in the early stages and raced into a 2-0 lead with goals from Angelino and Amadou Haidara, before a third in the second half from Justin Kluivert appeared to be the final nail in the United coffin. 

A Bruno Fernandes penalty, however, sparked the visitors into life in the 80th minute and a Paul Pogba header that went in off Ibrahima Konate soon after set up a tense finale, but it all came too late for United who were left to rue a sloppy start and will now drop into the Europa League. 

“It was really intense at the end but we played a good game for long spells,” Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann said. “The players implemented our plan well, especially in the first half. 

“The boys fought hard, I said before the game that they are machines and they showed that again tonight.”

Leipzig are top of Group H on 12 points, but will have to wait to see if they stay there, while United are out having finished third with nine points. 

Second-placed Paris St Germain, also on nine but with a better head-to-head record against United and Leipzig, are through to the last 16 and can still finish top. They will line up again against Istanbul Basaksehir on Thursday morning after their game was suspended due to allegations of abuse involving the fourth official. 

Leipzig, beaten 5-0 by United in Manchester, got off to a sensational start, stunning the visitors in the second minute with Angelino’s powerful shot from a Marcel Sabitzer cross. 

The Spaniard, on loan from Manchester City, ran United ragged down the left wing and was again left with far too much space in the 12th minute when he floated the ball across for Haidara to volley in. 

United’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka was completely overwhelmed on their right flank and the German side deserved a third goal. 

They thought they had got it when Willi Orban put the ball in the net only for it to be ruled offside. United, despite the return of Luke Shaw and goalkeeper David de Gea, were vulnerable at the back and had to change their system several times in a desperate effort to stop the onslaught. 

Leipzig added a third goal through substitute Kluivert in the 69th minute. Yet Fernandes, who had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick, scored with an 80th-minute penalty to spark some urgency into United’s game. 

Substitute Pogba’s header bounced off Konate and into the net to make it 3-2 in the 82nd but United, who needed at least a point to advance, could not get the equaliser. 

“There are 11 bodies out there who have got to go out there and be aggressive,” United defender Harry Maguire said. “It is the basics of football, if you don’t block crosses, you won’t win matches.” – REUTERS

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