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UCL Rewind: Manchester clubs crash out, Lyon completes comeback and more

ROONEY (GETTY)


By JOHN BOSCHINI

Manchester United and Manchester City might be competing atop the Premier League standings, but neither of them will be taking part in the UEFA Champions League group stage. Instead, it's off to the Europa League.

Manchester United became the first finalist to be knocked out in the group stage the following year after being shocked by FC Basel in Switzerland, 2-1, and relegated to the second tier competition with a third-place group finish. A draw would have been enough for Sir Alex Ferguson's side, but goals from Marco Stellar and Alexander Frei gave the Swiss side the victory.

David De Gea was to blame for Stellar's opener as the young goalkeeper pushed a low cross directly into the path of Stellar, who volleyed it home. United poured forward, desperate for an equalizer for the next hour but found themselves picking the ball out of their own net six minutes from time when Frei headed home an insurance goal.

It's a goal Basel would need as Phil Jones clawed a goal back for United just as full time was about to expire, but United, which lost Nemanja Vidic to a knee injury in the first half, couldn't find a second in injury time. It is only the second time in 16 appearances in the Champions League in which United failed to make the knockout rounds.

Here is a look back at all the incredible action from today's Champions League.

MANCHESTER CITY 2, BAYERN MUNICH 0

Manchester City did their part but a 2-0 victory over Bayern Munich wasn't enough to see United's noisy neighbors through to the knockout rounds. City thoroughly outclassed the reserve-laden German side throughout the game and took the lead just before halftime with a well-taken goal from David Silva.

Adam Johnson found the creative midfielder with a through in and Silva buried it into the corner with a hard shot. Yaya Toure put the result beyond doubt when he coolly slotted the ball home following some nifty passing from Manchester City. Bayern Munich's offense came mostly from shots from outside the box and looked like a team already secure in their qualification.

City needed Villarreal to at least force a draw with Napoli, but the Spanish side was unable to come through.

NAPOLI 2, VILLAREAL 0

Napoli are through to the knockout round with two second-half goals against a Villareal side desperate to end their European campaign. Gokhan Inler and Marek Hamsik scored 10 minutes apart midway through the second half to give Napoli the victory. Villareal ends its Champions League with zero points in six games.

LYON 7, DINAMO ZAGREB 1

Lyon completed one of the most unlikely comebacks in Champions League history as a 7-1 victory over 10-man Dinamo Zagreb (combined with a 3-0 Real Madrid victory over Ajax) saw them overturn a seven-goal deficit against Ajax and book a place in the knockout rounds.

Jerko Leko was sent off in the 28th minute, but Dinamo took the unlikely lead through Mateo Kovacic. From that point on, it was all Lyon.

Bafatembi Gomis knotted the scored just before halftime before the floodgates opened for Lyon in the second half.

Gomis scored a second-half hat trick, while Maxime Gonalons, Lisandro Lopez and Jimmy Briand added goals of their own. The result comes just a day after fellow Ligue 1 side Marseille scored three goals to come from behind and qualify for the knockout round.

REAL MADRID 3, AJAX 0

Ajax entered the day almost certain of a place in the knockout stages, but Lyon's victory combined with the Dutch side's lackluster performance relegates them into the Europa League. Jose Maria Callejon bagged a brace for Real Madrid and Gonzalo Higuain added a goal of his own. Ajax, which had two goals disallowed because of offsides calls, had seven shots on goal against a Real Madrid side missing several starters in anticipation of El Clasico this weekend.

BENFICA 1, OTELUL GALATI 0

Benfica ended the group stages with an exclamation point after a 1-0 victory over Otelul Galati assured the Portugese side of top spot in Group C. Oscar Cardozo was on the scoresheet after just six minutes, and the visitors were never much of a threat to equalize.

CSKA MOSCOW 2, INTER MILAN 1

CSKA Moscow took advantage of an Inter Milan side that had already wrapped up Group B to sneak into second place. Vassili Berezoutski scored in the 86th minute to give the visitors the unlikely upset. Esteban Cambiasso had canceled out Seydou Doumbia's opener early in the second half.

LILLE 0, TRABZONSPOR 0

Both teams crashed out of the competition despite either needing a victory to supplant CSKA Moscow for second place in the group. Turkish upstart Trabzonspor could never find the offensive spark they so desperately needed, and Lille couldn't find the back of the net despite having 66 percent of the possession.

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What did you think of today's games? Shocked to see Manchester United and Manchester City exit so early? Amazed at Lyon's comeback?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. Actually, Real & Barca wouldn’t dominate the EPL because they wouldn’t have nearly the financial advantages they enjoy in Spain. They make considerably more in TV revenue than any other the others (Manchester United, Bayern, Inter), which means they are the two richest teams in the world. This provides a distinct advantage in not only attracting the worlds best but keeping the worlds best by having massive wage bills.

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  2. The reason why the EPL has a “Big 6” is down to the lack of quality at the top. Real and Barca would dominate the EPL the way they do in Spain, because no English club comes close to them as far as the quality is concerned.

    Furthermore the midtable and bottom of the table teams in Serie A, Bundesliga and La Liga are at least on the same level if not better than their counterparts in the EPL.

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  3. They had to wait til halftime to see the RM-Ajax scoreline. Once it was 2-0 RM at half, the agreement was made. That’s my guess!

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  4. Yea, Real and Barca are the best two teams in the world, but their dominance would not be the same in the EPL. it has gotten to the point where there is a “Big 6” in England, something no other league can claim. if you watch the league week in and week out, the quality throughout the league, even in the middle and bottom table, is dramatically better than the less than elite teams in other leagues. every game is a battle, even for the top sides, so focusing on 38 tough games as well as Europe is much harder for English clubs than any other.

    other teams can usually relax and send out a reserve side when theres a CL match coming up, you just can’t do that in England or you’ll get punished. a loss in the PL is potentially devastating, as the table is much closer than Spain and other countries. last season it was something crazy like an 8 point difference between relegation and a top 8 finish. nowhere else can claim that either.

    if Real or Barca lose in league play, they will not be surpassed by anybody other than each other, and they always just duke it out every year anyway. yaaawwwn

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  5. Re DeGea, I don’t know if Sir Alex defended him (again), but he ran Timmy Howard out of Old trafford for a mistake in the Champions League. i believe it also was a soft rebound, vs. porto in UCL quarters iirc.

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  6. I was more so trying to explain why its a two team league and that it has nothing to do with the rest of the league lacking quality.My point is that if FCB and Real were in the EPL the same type of dominance would occur. Villareal has been decimated by injuries, not the same team that qualified for Champions. Valencia was a little suprising, despite losing the likes of Mata and Silva i still thought they had a decent chance of advancing but they ran into a better team….Just annoys me that most fans think the rest of La Liga is crap b/c it happens to have the 2 best teams in the world for the last couple of yrs and the gap between the top 2 and rest is so far off.

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  7. How does your statement not show that La Liga is a two team league? Last time I checked the fact that Real & Barca easily advanced while Valencia finished 3rd and Villareal embarrsed themselves (although to be fair it was in the hardest group) shows how wide the gap is between the top two and the rest. EPL might not deserve all of the praise that is thrown at it, but two teams don’t make one league automatically better as a whole.

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  8. Great to see MAN U out!! Prem league this Prem league that, La Liga is only a two team league, its a joke. Last time i checked our top two teams advanced easily by crushing every opponent put in front of them. Like i thought last year La Liga is a two team league b/c Madrid and Barca are the two best teams on the planet. So its not that La Liga isnt good its just that Barca/Madrid are out of this world…LA Liga>EPL

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  9. Yes, because the 6-game group stage of one competition trumps 38 league games. Do you really think Arsenal would have coasted in Group A?

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  10. Yeah, I haven’t watched the game yet either so I’m not sure about the 2 Ajax goals that were called back. I recorded it, but I don’t think I’ll be able to watch it now! Good luck to OL in the round of 16.

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  11. Ajax had two chances to settle matters on their own with Lyon, and we drew 0-0 with them both times. When I saw that Mourinho was playing a ‘B’ team, I started getting nervous. With all of the turmoil going on in Amsterdam now (Cruyff vs. van Gaal), it’s just a great day to be an Ajax fan!

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  12. As an Ajax fan, I have to point out that Dinamo Zagreb were pretty poor against Ajax too – which contributed to Ajax’s +7 advantage over Lyon to start the day. Heartbreak for Ajax (again), but congratulations to Lyon for getting the job done. On to the Europa League…

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  13. Let’s see, the inferior, 10-man side with nothing to play for loses by 6 to a desperate team that needs a blowout. Why is that so hard to believe?

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  14. Great to see Man U crash out. They are a bunch of overpaid sissies who are so used to winning that they have forgotten how to show up and actually play a spirited side like Basel. And you think Man U would have learned after the game at Old Trafford. Face it, FC Basel are ballers, but Man U should have done better than choke like this.

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  15. The best teams in the “best league in the world” will fight it out in the Europa League.

    I hope the Europa League now gets the attention it deserves.

    Reply

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