July 18, 2024

United advance to Champions League knockout stages with a whimper

MANCHESTER United have advanced to the Champions League knockout stages, but another sluggish performance saw them limp over the line as they lost 2-1 to deserved winners Valencia.

Apart from a spurt towards the end, which culminated in a lovely goal by Rashford, United were miserable.

They looked sluggish and dishevelled, devoid of intensity and real purpose. What turned out to be the decisive strike – an own goal by Jones after a failure of communication – summed up a performance that will have done nothing to improve manager Jose Mourinho’s downbeat mood of late.

United wasn’t the only European giant to suffer a bad night at the office.

Real Madrid’s miserable season continued as they ended their Group F campaign with a 3-0 defeat by CSKA Moscow – their biggest ever home loss in European football.

With Real already guaranteed top spot in the group, coach Santiago Solari rested key players such as Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, but still included Isco and Karim Benzema.

The forward curled a shot past Thibaut Courtois to put the visitors ahead and they doubled their advantage just before half-time as Georgi Shchennikov volleyed home.

Gareth Bale came on for the second half and needed treatment on an ankle injury but was able to continue. He could not change the hosts’ fortunes, however, as the Iceland international Arnor Sigurdsson struck a third goal in the 73rd minute to make victory certain.



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