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.

 

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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.

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