Manchester United crashed out of the UEFA Champions League in dramatic fashion after a 3-2 loss away to German side VFL Wolfsburg on Tuesday night at the Volkswagen Arena.
The Red Devils knew they would qualify for the last 16 by beating Wolfsburg, or if they matched PSV Eindhoven’s result against CSKA Moscow.
Anthony Martial put the visitors in front in the 10th minute after comfortably slotting home a fine through pass from Juan Mata.
Wolfsburg replied within three minutes through Naldo’s sharp volley and led when Vieirinha finished a flowing move.
United leveled the game in the 82nd minute after a Josuha Guilavogui’s own goal, only to concede again two minutes later by Naldo’s late header.
The result means Louis Van Gaals men will have to play the Europa League football for the rest of the season.
In the other result of the group, PSV defeated CSKA Moscow 2-1, to qualify alongside Wolfsburg to the next round of the UEFA Champions League.
Elsewhere, Real Madrid forward, Cristiano Ronaldo scored four goals and became the first player to hit 11 in the Champions League group stage as the Spanish club thrashed Malmo 8-0 at the Bernabeu.
Ronaldo reached 11 goals in six games, surpassing the nine scored by Luiz Adriano with Shakhtar Donetsk last season. Ronaldo also scored nine times in the 2013-14 season group stage.
Madrid secured the biggest margin of victory in the Champions League since Liverpool defeated Besiktas also by 8-0 in 2007.
All in all, it was a triumphant night for Real Madrid’s manager, Benitez, regardless of the calibre of the opposition. Only twice has a team won 8-0 in the Champions League, and on both occasions they were managed by the Spaniard, whose Liverpool side put eight past Besiktas in the group stage in 2007.
Speaking in a post-match interview, the 55-year old said: “We are very satisfied and happy for all of the Madrid fans who didn’t lose faith in this team.
“This is football, things change week after week. It’s important for us to keep winning.”
In other results of the night, Atletico Madrid won Group C by beating Benfica 2-1 to leapfrog the Portuguese host, which took second.
In Group D, Manchester City scored three late goals in a five-minute span to beat Borussia Moenchengladbach 4-2 and finish top for the first time.
Juventus, on the other hand, wasted a chance to finish first with a 1-0 loss at Sevilla, although still advanced.
Meanwhile, for Manchester United it was a sobering night and a bleak reminder of how far they are away from competing on a level footing with the elite teams of Europe. They are out of the Champions League, paying the ultimate price for some chaotic and even absurd defending, and for a club of their size and ambitions it will be a dreary existence switching to the Thursday night and Sunday afternoon churn that the Europa League entails.