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UEFA Champions League

On a miserable night, Man United crash out of Europe

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Champions League - Group A - Manchester United v Bayern Munich - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - December 12, 2023 Manchester United's Jonny Evans with teammates look dejected after the match REUTERS/Carl Recine Acquire Licensing Rights  

Manchester United’s slim chance of a Champions League last-16 spot ended with a 1-0 defeat by group winners Bayern Munich at Old Trafford on Tuesday, piling more misery on Erik ten Hag’s beleaguered team in an already rocky season.

The three-time European champions needed to beat Bayern in their group stage finale on Tuesday and hope Copenhagen’s game against visiting Galatasaray ended in a draw.

Neither happened as Kingsley Coman slotted home from close range in the 70th minute for Bayern, who were unbeaten in Group A to finish with 16 points and had the jubilant away fans singing “Football’s Coming Home” in the dying seconds.

“We didn’t make it, we have to accept and learn from it,” Dutchman Ten Hag told TNT Sports.

“We made mistakes. Today the performance was very good. We didn’t deserve to lose but we lost the game.”

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“In the end, it’s not good enough.”

United have just four points, with their fourth-place finish meaning not even a Europa League playoff berth as consolation, and boos rang out as the final whistle sounded.

Copenhagen won 1-0 in Denmark to finish with eight points and reach the Champions League knockout round, while Galatasaray took the Europa League playoff spot in third with five points.

United won one only of their six group games, with their hopes of advancing hanging by a thread after they twice gave up a two-goal lead in a 3-3 draw at Galatasaray on Nov. 29.

Bayern, who beat United 4-3 in their previous meeting in Munich, had already secured top spot in the group.

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COMAN STRIKES

Coman scored with ease when he drifted into space in United’s penalty area and no United defender picked him up, leaving Harry Kane to find the Frenchman with a flicked pass that the Bayern winger fired past goalkeeper Andre Onana.

“It was nice,” Kane told TNT. “I felt like we controlled the game and had the better chances. We were calm and we knew in the quick transitions we could hurt them.

“It is always tough when you are top and through already but we had a good motivation. It was nice to get the win today. We have enough ability to go far in this competition. That is the ambition, to go and win the Champions League.”

United’s 15 goals conceded were the most by any English team in this year’s group stage.

It was the club’s sixth time of going out at the group stage and first since 2020-21 plus only the second time they have finished bottom in their group after the 2005-06 campaign.

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Ten Hag’s struggling team have 12 defeats in 24 games in all competitions this season, losing 3-0 to lowly Bournemouth on Saturday to sit sixth in the Premier League.

Asked if he would look back on the team’s Champions League campaign with regret Ten Hag said: “Not with regret. We didn’t make it, but we have to accept it. We have to learn from it.

“We played some good football in the Champions League. We have to take some good performance into the Premier League.”

United had just one shot on target, but several scoring chances, including a couple from Bruno Fernandes early in the second half. The United captain launched one well over the bar from the edge of the box and the second just wide of the post, grimacing in frustration after both.

United also lost central defender Harry Maguire to a groin injury in the 40th minute on a miserable night.

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–Reuters

 

 

 

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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