Could Manchester United clinch a place in the last 16? We had live updates from all of tonight’s Champions League action.
MANCHESTER UNITED WERE Robin van Persie-less tonight but a win against Bayer Leverkusen would clinch their place in the Champions League last 16.
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Good evening and welcome to TheScore.ie’s live coverage of Wednesday’s Champions League action.
We’ll be focusing mainly on the BayArena where a win for Manchester United against Bayer Leverkusen will guarantee their place in the last 16. If results elsewhere go their way, both sides could be in the knockout rounds come 9.30pm tonight.
If you don’t fancy United, we’ll be keeping close tabs on the rest of tonight’s games including Manchester City v Viktoria Plzen and Real Madrid v Galatasaray.
Here are tonight’s teams. No van Persie or Vidic for United — they’re both injured — and Ryan Giggs and Phil Jones start in midfield.
Bayer Leverkusen: Leno, Donati, Spahic, Toprak, Can, Reinartz, Bender, Rolfes, Castro, Kiessling, Son.
Manchester United: De Gea; Smalling, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Jones, Giggs, Nani; Kagawa; Rooney
The evening’s first game is already done and dusted and Bayern Munich have won a record 10th consecutive Champions League match. Their 3-1 win against CSKA in Moscow moves them to 15 points in Group D, six clear of Manchester City — who have already qualified as well.
Speaking of City, here’s how they will line up at home to Plzen tonight.
Manchester City: Hart, Richards, Lescott, Demichelis, Kolarov, Milner, Nasri, Javi Garcia, Fernandinho, Dzeko, Aguero.
Before we begin, here’s a quick run-down of who’s in and who’s out before tonight’s games.
*= Could still qualify for Europa League
Qualified – None
In contention – Manchester United (8), Bayer Leverkusen (7), Shakhtar Donetsk (5), Real Sociedad (1)
Out – None
Qualified – None
In contention – Real Madrid (10), Galatasaray (4), Copenhagen (4), Juventus (3)
Out – None
Qualified – None
In contention — Paris Saint-Germain (10), Olympiakos (7), Benfica (4), Anderlecht (1)
Out – None
Qualified – Bayern Munich (15), Manchester City (9)
Out – CSKA Moscow (3*), Viktoria Plzen (0*)
It’s just about showtime in Leverkusen. Tonight is by no means do or die for Manchester United — they’ll still be in contention regardless of the result — but with a few big names missing, and an unusual midfield pairing of Jones and Giggs, they will be up against it.
KICK OFF: Leverkusen, dressed in all black, get us underway.
Is it too early to wish Ryan Giggs a happy birthday? He turns 40 on Friday… 40!!
8 mins – It has been a quiet start so far in Leverkusen (just in case you thought I was after nipping out for a cup of coffee). The hosts are happy enough to let United knock the ball about in their own half for now.
10 mins — Leverkusen break at pace through the middle but United have men behind the ball to frustrate Kiessling and Rolfes.
Paris Saint Germain 1-0 Olympiakos (Ibrahimovic, 7′) First plays second in Group C tonight and it’s first blood to PSG. Zlatan, who else?
16 mins — CHANCE! United’s first real chance of the game falls to Nani but he can’t keep his shot down. Giggs plays it to him just inside the Leverkusen box and although he tries to pick his spot, it’s a foot or two over Leno’s bar.
21 mins — Jonny Evans to the rescue for United. Kiessling glides past Ferdinand and into the box but Evans steps in just in time to block his shot. That was a real chance.
GOAL! Bayer Leverkusen 0-1 Manchester United (Valencia, 22′) Super counter-attack by United to slice through Leverkusen. Kagawa pounces on a loose ball in midfield and presses on before Giggs spreads the ball out wide to Rooney. He takes a touch before picking out a beautiful cross for Valencia who is completely unmarked at the back post. A relatively simple finish but a lovely goal.
GOAL! Bayer Leverkusen 0-2 Manchester United (Spahic og, 30′) Everything’s coming up United — and Wayne Rooney has a key role once again. He whips in a free kick from the left wing, the kind that only needs the slightest touch to leave the keeper with no chance. Smalling challenges in the crowded box but the ball nicks off the head of Spahic and leaves Leno with no chance.
So far, so straightforward.
A quick update from some other games. Juventus lead Copenhagen 1-0 in Turin, Arturo Vidal with the penalty just before the half-hour mark.
And in Madrid, it’s still Real 0-0 Galatasaray — but the hosts are down to 10 thanks to a red card for Sergio Ramos.
CITY LEAD! It has taken just over a half-hour but City lead against Plzen. Sergio Aguero’s cross hits an arm in the box and he’s more than happy to oblige from the penalty spot.
Coolcounterculture: Quality start. Rooney’s delivery has been fantastic and Kagawa playing in that role is making a huge difference. Defence still looks a bit shaky though.
BALE WATCH: After missing this sitter earlier…
Manchester City 1-1 Viktoria Plzen (Horava, 43′) Plzen level it up at the Etihad just before the break.
HALF TIME: Bayer Leverkusen 0-2 Manchester United
No problems so far for United. Goals from Valencia and a Spahic og have them 2-0 up at the break. Leverkusen have only had one shot on target so far to the visitors’ seven.
Here are the rest of the half-time scores:
Here’s the Bale free-kick. That ball moves.
Paul White/AP/Press Association Images
SECOND HALF: We’re back underway in Germany. Bayer really need to up their game if they are to have any chance.
49 mins – A worrying moment for United as Kagawa challenges Leno and gets a bit of a clatter on the side of the head. He’s fine though.
A few more goals to update you on. In Spain, Alvaro Arbeloa (‘Bob’ to all you Liverpool fans) has scored to put 10-man Real Madrid 2-1 up against Galatasaray.
Alex Teixeira has got Shakhtar’s second against Real Sociedad, and Benfica lead Anderlecht 2-1 courtesy of an og by Chancel Mbemba.
And in Turin, your friend and mine Olof Mellberg has made it Juventus 1-1 Copenhagen.
63 mins — NUTS! Rooney nutmegs Rolfes and comes back inside on his right foot before fizzing a shot just past the post. Leno probably had it covered though.
GOAL! Bayer Leverkusen 0-3 Manchester United (Evans, 65′) It’s scrappy as hell but United won’t mind. Rooney deserves a goal and very nearly gets it from Giggs’ corner. Leno can only parry his shot though and Jonny Evans walks it over the line.
GOALS GOALS GOALS! They’re scoring everywhere now. Arturo Vidal has a hat-trick and it’s Juventus 3-1 Copenhagen; Angel di Maria has made it Real Madrid 3-1 Galatasaray; and Douglas Costa makes it Shakhtar 3-0 Real Sociedad.
PLZEN EQUALISE! City are already through so this is not of any real consequence but Plzen are back on level terms again. Stanislav Tecl equalises to cancel out Samir Nasri‘s goal.
GOAL! Bayer Leverkusen 0-4 Manchester United (Smalling, 77′) United are running amok now and they look like they’re really enjoying themselves. Kagawa — who has been super in the 10 role tonight — times his pass to Rooney perfectly, Rooney lifts the ball over Leno, and Smalling taps in to an empty net.
Fun fact: Leverkusen had won their last eight games in the CL. Bye bye, winning streak.
CITY LEAD AGAIN and this time it’s substitute Alvaro Negredo. Can they hold on to their 3-2 lead?
83 mins — United really should have five. Anderson runs at the Leverkusen centre halves and then plays a one-two with Nani out on the left wing. When it comes back, Anderson stumbles over his shot though and Leno is able to save with his leg.
They look like they’re enjoying themselves, don’t they?
Frank Augstein/AP/Press Association Images
Real Madrid are home and hosed. Isco scores their fourth of the evening and they will qualify for the last 16 as Group B winners.
GOAL! Bayer Leverkusen 0-5 Manchester United (Nani, 88′) Lovely ball by Giggs, brilliant finish by Nani. Every time United come forward now, they look like scoring.
Three minutes of stoppage time in Germany but this one was done and dusted a long time ago…
I don’t know what a winkle is but…
FULL TIME: Bayer Leverkusen 0-5 Manchester United
United qualify for the last 16 in style — Valencia, Spahic (og), Evans, Smalling and Nani with the goals.
Leverkusen were pretty awful tonight, but is it fair to say that this was best United performance of the Moyes era so far? It’s not far off.
Here are tonight’s results in full:
Along with United and Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain have also clinched their place in the last 16. Edinson Cavani’s 90th-minute goal gave them a 2-1 win at home to Olympiakos.
That’s all from us for tonight. Thanks for reading and for your comments.
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