Thursday, June 13, 2024

Manchester misery as United, City crash out


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Paris: Manchester United and Manchester City crashed out of the Champions League as French side Lyon achieved a seven-goal miracle to reach the last 16.

United, the European champions in 1968, 1999 and 2008, slumped to a shock 2-1 defeat at Basel yesterday, a defeat which allowed the Swiss champions to go through from Group C with Benfica.

City defeated Group A winners Bayern Munich 2-0 but lost out on a last 16 spot when Napoli saw off pointless Villarreal 2-0 in Spain. It was only the third time in 16 years that Sir Alex Fergusuon’s United had crashed at the group phase with Wednesday’s shocker coming six years to the day since they last bade farewell at the first round, following a 2-1 loss at Benfica. Despite needing just a point to go through, last year’s beaten finalists were undone by goals in each half from Marco Streller and Alexander Frei which condemned Ferguson’s side to their first away defeat in the opening round in five years.

Phil Jones’ late goal gave them a glimmer of hope but Basel soaked up waves of United pressure — and rode their luck — to book their place in the last 16 for the first time since 2002-03. For United, who have played in three of the last four finals, there is now the unwelcome consolation of the Europa League. Defeat only added to striker Wayne Rooney’s problems, with the loss coming a day before he appeals against a three-match ban which could rule him out of Euro 2012.

“Of course we’re disappointed, there’s no other way you can feel,” said Ferguson. “It’s part of football. You have to deal with the disappointment.”

In a double dose of Mancunian misery, City also exited the tournament despite David Silva and Yaya Toure giving them a 2-0 win over a Bayern Munich side weakened by a dose of flu which had spread through the German squad. English Premier League leaders City went into the match knowing the only way they could progress was to beat Bayern, who had already finished top of Group A, and for Napoli to fail to beat Villarreal. Silva opened the scoring shortly before half-time at Eastlands and Toure scored a second just after the start of the second period. But Napoli’s 2-0 victory in Spain means Roberto Mancini’s team will now have to combine their push for the Premier League title with a place in the Europa League.

Elsewhere, Group D came to an dramatic end as Lyon progressed to the next stage by winning 7-1 at Dinamo Zagreb. However, after the final whistle, it was still not enough for them to go through as Ajax who had a three-point advantage needed to lose at home.

Fortunately, for the French giants group leaders Real Madrid breezed past the Dutch side, Ajax with a 3-0 victory, finishing a perfect six-win record in group stage and also giving Lyon a lift.

In Group B, CSKA Moskva also pulled off an unlikely win as they beat 2-1 group winner Inter Milan to finish the group second.

Teams which have qualified for the knockout stages: Group winners: Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Benfica, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Arsenal, APOEL FC, Barcelona

Runners-ups: Napoli, CSKA Moskva, Basel, Lyon, Leverkusen, Marseille, Zenit St Petersburg and AC Milan. (Agencies)


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