Geneva, November 30: Arsenal scored six to advance in the Champions League as a group winner and Manchester United stayed last in its group despite again scoring three times away from home.
Arsenal’s 6-0 rout of Lens on Wednesday ensured second-place PSV Eindhoven also advanced from Group B to the round of 16. PSV’s second-half rally to win 3-2 at Sevilla was clinched by United States forward Ricardo Pepi in stoppage time.
There are now 12 confirmed teams in the round of 16 draw on Dec. 18 and Man United is in serious danger of missing out.
The three-time European champion led by two goals after 18 minutes at Galatasaray and 3-2 early in the second half but was pegged back again in a wild 3-3 draw.
United only does topsy-turvy road games in Europe this season after 4-3 losses at group winner Bayern Munich and second-place Copenhagen.
“As a team, we have to learn from it because we are conceding too many goals and it is unnecessary and avoidable,” United manager Erik ten Hag said.
A hat trick of three-goal games on their travels has brought just a single point back for ten Hag’s players, who need to beat Bayern at Old Trafford in two weeks’ time.
Only four other Champions League teams this season have scored more than United’s 12-goal total and they all top their groups and have advanced to the knockout phase.
Real Madrid is one of them after a 4-2 win over second-place Napoli ensured the record 14-time champion will finish atop Group C.
Teams that top their standings are seeded in the round of 16 draw on Dec. 18 and avoid other group winners like defending champion Manchester City. Teams also cannot be drawn against an opponent from their own country.
Bayern drew 0-0 with Copenhagen, one of two games with no goals on a night when the other six games delivered 31.
Real Sociedad was held 0-0 by Salzburg to set up a last-game showdown with second-place Inter Milan at San Siro for the top spot in Group D. Both Sociedad and Inter already advanced three weeks ago.
Inter produced the night’s other second-half fightback in a 3-3 draw at Benfica, which wasted a three-goal lead at halftime earned by João Mario’s hat trick against his former club.
Braga drew 1-1 with Union Berlin and can still advance by winning at Napoli on Dec. 12.
Jude Bellingham was a standout again for Real Madrid in what is becoming the 20-year-old England star’s routine excellence this season.
Bellingham scored Madrid’s second goal against Napoli to make it four goals in four Champions League games for his new club and provided an assist for Joselu in stoppage time.
“Bellingham is a gift to football, not just this club,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said.
“The world’s delighted to see a guy with this talent, potential, promise and hopefully, he’ll just continue as he is.”
Bellingham now has scored 15 goals in his first 16 matches with Madrid wearing the No. 5 shirt of the great Zinedine Zidane.
“Bellingham has surprised everyone. No one could have expected this,” Ancelotti said.
“He’s got to improve his Spanish but as I always say — nobody’s perfect.”
Andre Onana’s goalkeeping errors have cost Manchester United in losses at Bayern and at home to Galatasaray, and almost led to another defeat Wednesday in Istanbul.
For each of Hakim Ziyech’s two goals from free kicks, Onana’s positional play or handling could be faulted.
“We win and lose together,” Ten Hag said when asked about Onana who he also coached at Ajax.
“He is OK. As I said, it is not about individuals. Of course, individual errors in football can make a difference and you take responsibility for it but it is always about the team.”
PLAYING FOR THIRD
Third place in a Champions League ensures European games into the new year, albeit in the second-tier Europa League.
The eight third-place teams when group play ends in two weeks’ time enter the knockout playoff round against runners-up in Europa League groups. Those pairings are drawn on Dec. 18.
Man United could end up third even if it beats Bayern on Dec. 12, the same night Copenhagen hosts Galatasaray.
Salzburg needs only a draw at home to Benfica in two weeks to clinch third place in Group D
Europa League title holder Sevilla can rise off the bottom of Group B by winning at Lens on Dec. 12 and getting back into the competition it won seven times in the past 18 seasons.
Winning the Europa title also is a ticket back to the Champions League next season. (AP)