Wolfsburg 3-2 Manchester United
A pulsating game was finally settled by Naldo's second goal, taking Wolfsburg into the last 16 for the first time and eliminating their opponents.
Article top media content
- Wolfsburg advance to UEFA Champions League round of 16 with thrilling victory
- Naldo registers twice, including late winner, on night of high drama
- Anthony Martial and Josuha Guilavogui own goal seemingly give Manchester United draw
- United finish third in Group B and move into UEFA Europa League
- Round of 16 draw takes place at 12.00CET on Monday
Wolfsburg are in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 for the first time after a dramatic Group B victory against Manchester United eliminated the three-time winners.
Amid the backdrop of a breathtaking atmosphere, the game burst into life early on, André Schürrle racing onto Max Kruse's glancing header before firing over from close range. The hosts were quickly left to rue that miss as United produced a probing passing move, Daley Blind and Juan Mata combining to find Anthony Martial whose confident finish clipped goalkeeper Diego Benaglio on its way in.
The Wolves produced an immediate answer, defender Naldo brilliantly hooking in Ricardo Rodriguez's arcing free-kick. Louis van Gaal's men continued to commit players forward and were only denied an equaliser by a brilliant Benaglio save from Marouane Fellaini's point-blank header.
Home coach Dieter Hecking had warned the visitors to beware Wolfsburg's creative players, and his team's spectacular second backed up those words. A slick counterattacking move ended with a swift exchange of passes between Julian Draxler and Max Kruse, the former teeing up full-back Vieirinha for a tap-in. Soon afterwards, Draxler sent a shot goalwards which David de Gea beat away to safety.
Both goalkeepers were kept busy after the restart. Benaglio parried Memphis Depay's acrobatic effort before his opposite number made three stops in quick succession from Schürrle, twice, and then Maximilian Arnold. Wolfsburg's Kruse subsequently blasted wide while Depay's free-kick whistled past a post at the other end.
With the match in its closing stages, Josuha Guilavogui nodded past his own keeper in trying to clear Fellaini's header. Now United looked like they were going through; instead, two minutes later, Naldo headed in Marcel Schäfer's corner and it was Wolfsburg who were celebrating.
Spellbinding first half
With Wolfsburg needing only a draw to progress and United struggling to score of late, many pre-match predictions pointed to a tight opening to the contest. However, it soon became apparent that the opposite was the case with both teams delivering the sort of open, attacking football that will have delighted fans of both sides and many neutrals too.
Based on their high-tempo game, Wolfsburg will pose a significant threat to whoever they meet in the round of 16. From attackers Draxler, Schürrle and Kruse back to glovesman Benaglio, the Wolves possess considerable talent which, when it clicks like tonight, could bring rewards in the knockout rounds.
Van Gaal may take great heart from this display, despite the loss and its consequences. Having scored just seven goals in their previous ten outings, the Red Devils were a far stronger unit going forward than in other fixtures of late. It bodes well for a challenge in the UEFA Europa League.