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 Match Information 
 2015-12-08 (19:45) (ECup)  Wolfsburg 3–2 Manchester United
  Venue: Volkswagen Arena (26400)
  Goals: Martial1; Guilavogui(82 o.g.) 
  Lineup: De Gea  Varela  Smalling  Blind  Darmian  Schweinsteiger  Fellaini  Lingard  Mata  Depay  Martial 


Wolfsburg 3-2 Manchester United
Posted by   Bill   on   2015-12-08 @ 21:06:17 -0700

VfL Wolfsburg 3-2 Manchester United

Aparecido Rodrigues 13′, 84′ Vieirinha 29′

Martial 10′ Guilavogui 82′ (og)

FT 90 +4
HT 2-1

Manchester United were eliminated from the Champions League in dramatic fashion by a late loss at Wolfsburg.

The Red Devils made an ideal start when Anthony Martial caressed Juan Mata's pinpoint pass into the bottom corner.

Wolfsburg replied within three minutes through Naldo's sharp volley and led when Vieirinha finished a flowing move.

United thought they were through after Josuha Guilavogui's own goal, only to be condemned to the Europa League through Naldo's late header.

Louis van Gaal's side knew they would qualify for the last 16 by beating Wolfsburg, or if they matched PSV Eindhoven's result against CSKA Moscow.

Twice inside the final 15 minutes, United thought they were progressing at the expense of the Dutch side, who needed to better United's result to advance.

CSKA led 1-0 in Eindhoven as United also trailed, before both PSV and United were briefly level in their respective games.

But late winners for Wolfsburg and PSV, who won 2-1, knocked out Van Gaal's team.

United's late misery was a stark contrast to Manchester City, who saw fortune swing back in their favour as their neighbours unravelled.

Five goals were netted inside six minutes across the two games, with City coming back to win 4-2 against Borussia Monchengladbach and pip Juventus to win Group D.

That means the Blues will avoid the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid in the last 16, while the Red Devils face the prospect of Europa League football in the New Year.

Van Gaal has been criticised by some Red Devils supporters for his pragmatic, defence-minded approach - United were booed off after Saturday's 0-0 draw with West Ham at Old Trafford, the fifth time in nine matches they had failed to score.

However, United freed the shackles and produced an entertaining display in Germany, yet it was one that ultimately led to their exit from Europe's premier club competition.

Martial settled any early United nerves by racing on to Juan Mata's perfectly-weighted through ball, taking a touch before coolly sliding past Wolfsburg keeper Diego Benaglio.

Van Gaal's side continued to create chances throughout the match, only to see Benaglio brilliantly stop Fellaini's first-half header and Memphis Depay's far-post volley after the break.

Fellaini's height caused problems at the corner which led to Wolfsburg midfielder Guilavogui flicking into his own net, but United were undone by their own defensive deficiencies.

While United found a solution to their recent goalscoring woes, a suspect defensive display resulted in their downfall.

Wolfsburg threatened United with blistering counter-attacks and slick, one-touch passing around the visiting penalty area.

But, more importantly, the Premier League side twice switched off at Wolfsburg set-pieces shortly after scoring themselves.

Injury-hit United had a makeshift defence, with young Uruguay right-back Guillermo Varela making his first start for the club and teenager Cameron Borthwick-Jackson playing for almost 50 minutes after replacing injured left-back Matteo Darmian.

It was a lack of organisation - and possibly experience - that allowed Brazilian defender Naldo to strike the late winner.

Many observers were surprised that Van Gaal decided to start 22-year-old Varela ahead of former England international Ashley Young, while the exclusion of experienced holding midfielder Michael Carrick also raised questions.

Even more surprisingly, Young was still ignored when Darmian had to be replaced. Instead Van Gaal turned to 18-year-old Borthwick-Jackson, who was making only his second United appearance.

England midfielder Carrick was eventually introduced for Germany's World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger after 69 minutes, at the same time Mata was withdrawn for Nick Powell - the 21-year-old midfielder whose previous United appearance came in the 4-0 defeat by then-League One side MK Dons in August 2014.

Van Gaal said afterwards that United were unfairly denied an equaliser shortly before half-time, a decision which he felt could have changed the complexion of the match and their Champions League future.

The visitors thought they had equalised when Jesse Lingard curled a 20-yard shot past home keeper Benaglio.

But their celebrations were cut short when the assistant referee raised his flag, after a long delay, for offside against Mata.

However, replays proved the official was correct with his decision. Despite not touching the ball, Mata's movement in front of Benaglio clearly impacted the Wolfsburg keeper.

Spectators in the Volkswagen Arena were prevented from leaving the ground after a suspect package was found in a car park outside the stadium.

After approximately 15 minutes, fans were allowed to leave after police were satisfied that it was not a bomb.

It did mean United's VIP flight back to Manchester, which included Van Gaal and his players, former boss Sir Alex Ferguson and former chief executive David Gill was slightly delayed.

Stats you need to know

Manchester United conceded as many goals in the first 30 minutes against Wolfsburg as they had in their previous nine games in all competitions
Anthony Martial ended a run of 690 minutes without a goal in all competitions for United
Wolfsburg have beaten Manchester United for the first time, having lost all three of the previous meetings
Naldo scored in the Champions League for the first time since 2006

Lineup, Bookings (4) & Substitutions (6)

VfL Wolfsburg

01 Benaglio
15 Träsch
25 Aparecido Rodrigues Booked
18 Dante
34 Rodríguez (Schäfer - 16' )
10 Draxler (Caligiuri - 85' )
23 Guilavogui
08 Vieirinha (Klose - 78' )
27 Arnold
17 Schürrle Booked
11 Kruse


03 Bendtner
04 Schäfer
05 Klose
07 Caligiuri
12 Dost
24 Jung
28 Casteels

Manchester United

01 de Gea
30 Varela Booked
12 Smalling
17 Blind
36 Darmian Booked (Borthwick-Jackson - 43' )
31 Schweinsteiger (Carrick - 69' )
27 Fellaini
35 Lingard
08 Mata (Powell - 69' )
07 Depay
09 Martial


16 Carrick
18 Young
20 Romero
22 Powell
33 McNair
43 Borthwick-Jackson
44 Pereira

Ref: Milorad Mazic
Att: 26,400

Posted by   PaulJ   on   2015-12-19 @ 15:10:51 -0700

Excitement at last
And we fought to the end but
Were not good enough

The Verein für Leibesübungen Wolfsburg men’s football club, owned by the Volkswagen company, played their amateur years and through their steady rise up the German football hierarchy at the company’s VfL-Stadium. In 2002 the multi-purpose Volkswagen Arena was completed by the River Aller close to the huge car plant and it has been their home since. It has a capacity of 30,000 for the Bundesliga but less for European ties where standing is not permitted. Our only previous visit was in 2009 when we were assured of progress to the knock-out stages of the Champions League but not of winning the group. We had a huge injury list and fielded a makeshift side including a back three of Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick and Patrice Evra, yet secured a stylish three-one success through unlikely performances, particularly from Michael Owen, who scored a hat trick, and Gabriel Obertan, who brilliantly made Owen’s second goal after Edin Džecko had equalised.

Wolfsburg had never qualified for the knock-out round but under Dieter Hecking, the Bundesliga Coach of the Year last season, their star continues to rise. A ninety fourth minute winner by Shinji Kagawa for Borussia Dortmund at the weekend ended their twenty nine home match unbeaten run but they only needed a draw against us to make club history. Our position after a surprisingly warm, sunny day in Lower Saxony was less clear but we probably needed to win. There was a great atmosphere in the stands, obedience orchestrated by the Zeremonienübermeister as the Wolfsburg team pulled our defence aside leaving Guillermo Varela, making his first senior start, to choose between jumping with Max Kruse or marking André Schürrle but Schürrle smashed the opportunity over the bar. Soon we too were wasting chances; from Memphis Depay’s cross Juan Mata’s shot was going in but for Marouane Fellaini who stood in its way. Goalkeeper Diego Benaglio’s clearance went straight to Bastian Schweinsteiger who over hit a simple pass to an unmarked Anthony Martial. No matter; Daley Blind found the pass up the left midfield to Mata, who immediately stroked his pass up the inside left channel where Martial split the defenders and slotted home on the run as if he had been scoring every week; 10 minutes 1-0.

Our joy was brief. Wolfsburg were trying to calm the pace when Blind gave away a free kick. It was well outside our area but Ricardo Rodríguez struck it goalwards and Naldo was allowed the freedom to volley it gracefully an inch inside the near post; 14 minutes 1-1

We threatened to retake the lead as Memphis stole the ball off Christian Träsch and Mata was just beaten to it by the goalkeeper at the near post. Blind's corner was met with a firm header from Fellaini only for Benaglio to pull off a good save and Vieirinha to clear off the goal line. The Germans, meanwhile, had worked out that Serbian referee Milorad Mažić who in a short international career has so far alienated Portugal, Iran and both senior clubs in Madrid, was an indecisive and suggestible man; Vieirinha ensured that Matteo Darmian got booked for a tackle that was hardly worth a free kick. Maximilian Arnold's dive was farcical. Yet they had no need of skulduggery. Naldo took a short pass from his goalkeeper and with a back heel released Julian Draxler. A fifty yard crossfield ball to Schürrle on the left touchline, who slung it back to the right wing; Draxler cut inside, beat Schweinsteiger, played a one-two with Kruse through a petrified forest of United players and, faced with David de Gea, rolled it for Vieirinha to tap in. Poetry, certainly, but could not someone have put in a tackle? 29 minutes 1-2.

Draxler was in the Schalke team we destroyed by six goals to one in the semi-final of 2010. Otherwise, if he had a heart he might have wept at how far we have slipped. Instead and fuelled no doubt by revenge, he became the quarterback at the heart of his side and twisted the knife. Josuha Guilavogui’s run up the right looked dangerous until Memphis tackled him. Varela managed to stop Schürrle just when it looked as if the German was past him. Then Schweinsteiger gave an impossible pass to Memphis who was robbed by Schürrle and Draxler was away, beating Varela in style only this time there was no-one for him to slip it to and de Gea parried his shot. Memphis and Mata worked a good move but Jesse Lingard shot straight at the goalkeeper. The gods, though, had decided against us. Darmian became our seventh first-teamer injured and was replaced by another teenager, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson. It was he who found Lingard on the left and Lingard who found the net with an impressive shot from an angle outside the area. Plaisir du football ne dure qu’un moment. The Germans persuaded Mr Mažić, who had already awarded the goal, that Mata, who had not touched the ball, had been offside under the new interference rule. Mr Mažić was for turning and the score was cruelly if, one reluctantly admits, probably correctly disallowed.

At least we were not going gentle into our good night. We worked hard in the second half to turn things around. Memphis beat his man but Fellaini fouled Dante. Varela did brilliantly to win the ball and the attack ended with a superb acrobatic shot by Memphis, but Benaglio saved it. Mata dummied a rehearsed free kick and rolled it along the eighteen yard line; Blind’s drive was blocked and Lingard’s suffered a deflection that Mata was only inches away from turning in. Adventure was leaving us open; in a moment of lunacy de Gea raced out of his goal to the corner of the area and Schürrle chipped towards the empty net; de Gea reached up during his retreat and made amends. After a smooth exchange of passes on their left, Draxler made an opening for Schürrle. Whether it was him or Lingard who got the final touch it was still a good de Gea save. From the corner de Gea had to tip Arnold’s wildly swerving effort around the post. From that corner, Kruse shot a good chance wide.

It was at this point that Louis van Gaal made a double substitution. Replacing Schweinsteiger, who had been far from imperious, with Carrick prompted the hindsight judgement that he might have better been in the team in the first place. The surprise was the replacement of Mata, the maker of the goal and by a mile our most creative passer, by Nick Powell, loaned out and restricted by injury in the fifteen months since he was substituted in ignominy during the debacle at Milton Keynes. The match passed him by; too much was asked of him. Still we pressed. When Martial was taken down by Naldo, Memphis’ kick went so very close and the news came in from Eindhoven that we could lose and still go through. Chris Smalling went off injured and returned at centre forward. Memphis won a corner which Blind took. Fellaini beat Dante and headed it down and it bounced up and touched Naldo’s head before skimming off Guilavogui’s hair gel and dropping over his own goalkeeper; 82 minutes 2-2.

But o, those cruel gods! They know it’s the hope that kills you. In Holland PSV turned their match around and just as we realised a draw would not be enough our makeshift defence failed. Blind managed to put Schürrle’s cross behind the post but the corner kick sailed over the stranded Powell and fell to Naldo. De Gea and Blind each got a hand to it but the header nestled in the net and we were done for; 84 minutes 2-3.

We tried. Borthwick-Jackson was up there, Memphis chipped over the top to Martial and when Dante blocked the shot Smalling all but scored; substitute Marcel Schäfer knew nothing about the block; right time, right place. From Blind’s next corner Carrick and Lingard, too, had their efforts blocked and for only the third time in twenty years we had failed to qualify for the knock-out stage.

The recriminations! Open season for journalists and former players to give us a kicking but we had in truth surrendered our European season not in Germany but by being so limp against PSV. Those spoilt by a quarter of a century of success may not understand, but I would rather go down in a thrilling match like this than somnambulate into a dismal exit in the next round.

Paul Andrew James


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