Manchester United’s season suffered a huge blow as a defeat at German side RB Leipzig knocked them out of the Champions League.
Needing just a draw to progress to the last 16, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side conceded twice inside 13 minutes to leave their hopes in tatters before RB Leipzig added what ultimately turned out to be the killer third with 20 minutes left.
United staged their now customary second-half fightback thanks to a Bruno Fernandes penalty and Harry Maguire header, but ultimately fell short.
To rub salt in the wound, the goalscorer of the first and supplier of the second, Angelino, is currently on loan in Germany from Manchester City.
His superb low shot into the far corner after just two minutes was followed soon after by a chipped cross to the back post, where Amadou Haidara ghosted in to volley past David de Gea.
It could have been even worse, with the home side seeing a third goal ruled out for offside against Willi Orban on the half-hour.
United were better in the second half and struck the crossbar through a Fernandes free-kick but shortly after substitute Justin Kluivert chipped in following some shoddy defensive play from Maguire and De Gea.
Fernandes’ penalty – awarded for a foul on Mason Greenwood by Ibrahima Konate – gave them a slim chance, which Maguire made real by diverting Paul Pogba’s back-post header into the net, but the Germans held on.
Pogba had started on the bench and came on with 30 minutes to go, a day after his agent Mino Raiola declared that the midfielder was “unhappy” at the club and “has to leave” in the next transfer window.
It is small solace for United that they now drop into the Europa League – a competition they won in 2017.
RB Leipzig advance to the Champions League last 16 having reached the last four in 2019-20.
Whether they do so as group winners or runners-up depends on the result between Paris St-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir in a game that was suspended on Tuesday after a match official was accused of using a racist term towards one of the Turkish side’s backroom staff.
No comeback this time as United head for Europa League
Tuesday’s defeat is the latest and lowest dip of what has already been a rollercoaster season for Solskjaer’s side, both domestically and in Europe.
They were firm favourites to progress from Group H after beating PSG and Leipzig in their first two games of the campaign, but last week’s home loss to the French side left them vulnerable and the German side completed the job.
In truth, though, much of the blame for their failure to progress is their defeat at Istanbul Basaksehir, who finished bottom of the group.
Critics were quick to pounce on Solskjaer’s side after that defeat, particularly in light of the negligent way their defence allowed Demba Ba to run unchallenged from inside his own half to score the opening goal of the Turkish side’s 2-1 win.
Such defensive frailties have also been evident throughout their league season, including in wins at Everton, Southampton and West Ham, in which they fell behind but rallied to take the points.
Again in Germany they were unpicked with ease as Angelino surged into space on the left to fire in Leipzig’s first and was then afforded too much room to pick out Haidara for the second.
It could have been different had Greenwood taken advantage of time and space on the counter-attack, but he placed his low shot too close to Peter Gulacsi, who saved to preserve the score at 1-0.
It was perhaps telling that not only did Pogba not start the game but that he was not Solskjaer’s first port of call in his bid to alter the game, with Donny van de Beek his first substitution.
When Pogba did arrive, he made a difference, playing a crucial role in the second goal that gave them hope of yet another late recovery and almost an even bigger one with a cross that Nordi Mukiele would have poked into his own net but for the boot of Gulacsi.
The final whistle followed soon after to give Leipzig their revenge for the 5-0 loss they suffered at Old Trafford on matchday two.
Solskjaer sets unwanted record
- Ole Gunnar Solskjær has lost six of his 10 Champions League matches as a manager (W4); he is the first manager to lose six or more times in their first 10 games in the competition while in charge of an English side.
- Manchester United have conceded three or more goals in consecutive Champions League games for the first time since April 2003.
- United exited at the group stage in a Champions League campaign for the first time since 2015-16 under Louis van Gaal.
- RB Leipzig are unbeaten in their past six home Champions League games (W5 D1), winning the last four in a row.
- Since his United debut in February, no player in Europe’s top five leagues has scored more penalties in all competitions than Bruno Fernandes (13 – level with Cristiano Ronaldo).
- RB Leipzig full-back Angelino has had a hand in six goals in six Champions League appearances this season (three goals, three assists).
- Angelino’s goal scored after 1:49 is the earliest United have conceded in the CL since Alan for Sporting Braga in October 2012 (1:27).
- 22MukieleBooked at 32mins
- 7SabitzerBooked at 35mins
- 44KamplSubstituted forAdamsat 75′minutesBooked at 81mins
- 3AngelinoSubstituted forHalstenbergat 87′minutes
- 10ForsbergSubstituted forPoulsenat 56′minutes
- 25OlmoSubstituted forKluivertat 56′minutesBooked at 62mins
- 1de Gea
- 2LindelöfBooked at 77minsSubstituted forTuanzebeat 78′minutes
- 5MaguireBooked at 62mins
- 23ShawBooked at 43minsSubstituted forWilliamsat 61′minutesBooked at 68mins
- 29Wan-BissakaSubstituted forFosu-Mensahat 77′minutes
- 31MaticSubstituted forPogbaat 61′minutes
- 27TellesSubstituted forvan de Beekat 45′minutes
- 18Bruno FernandesBooked at 5mins
- 34van de Beek
- Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz
Match ends, RB Leipzig 3, Manchester United 2.
Second Half ends, RB Leipzig 3, Manchester United 2.
Offside, RB Leipzig. Willi Orban tries a through ball, but Yussuf Poulsen is caught offside.
Attempt saved. Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Paul Pogba.
Attempt missed. Scott McTominay (Manchester United) left footed shot from the left side of the box is too high. Assisted by Marcus Rashford.
Substitution, RB Leipzig. Marcel Halstenberg replaces Angeliño.
Offside, RB Leipzig. Christopher Nkunku tries a through ball, but Justin Kluivert is caught offside.
Offside, RB Leipzig. Angeliño tries a through ball, but Justin Kluivert is caught offside.
Corner, RB Leipzig. Conceded by Paul Pogba.
Goal! RB Leipzig 3, Manchester United 2. Paul Pogba (Manchester United) header from the right side of the six yard box to the top right corner. Assisted by Bruno Fernandes with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Nordi Mukiele.
Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig).
Goal! RB Leipzig 3, Manchester United 1. Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom left corner.
Penalty Manchester United. Mason Greenwood draws a foul in the penalty area.
Penalty conceded by Ibrahima Konaté (RB Leipzig) after a foul in the penalty area.
Substitution, Manchester United. Axel Tuanzebe replaces Victor Lindelöf.
Substitution, Manchester United. Timothy Fosu-Mensah replaces Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Victor Lindelöf (Manchester United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.