November 9 – A frenzied Manchester United saw them suffer a crippling Champions League defeat to FC Copenhagen that’s thrown their hopes of progression into doubt. Despite an early brace from returning Rasmus Hojlund, the Red Devils began to crumble following Marcus Rashford’s debatable sending off in the 42nd minute.
By half time, including a lengthy 13-minute period of added time due to a pitch invader earlier in the half, Copenhagen capitalised on their advantage and had levelled the game 2-2.
VAR was yet again placed in centre stage, as both sides were awarded penalties for handling the ball in the box, as well as a lengthy check on the foul that led to Marcus Rashford leaving the field.
Despite Bruno Fernandes’ second-half penalty putting the Red Devils back in front, Copenhagen scored two late goals to bring home all three points from a thrilling game.
As things stand, Manchester United fall to bottom of the group with two matches to play.
As United stumbled against the Danish side, FC Bayern extended their lead at the top of the group after a 2-1 home victory over Galatasaray. They became yet another team to automatically qualify for the next round, with a commanding 12 points from the opening four matches.
Two second half goals from Harry Kane were enough to keep the Turkish side at bay despite a late consolation from Cedric Bakambu. The English captain has scored 26 across 15 games in all competitions since joining the Bavarians.
Real Madrid recorded an identical record to FC Bayern, notching a maximum 12 points in the group stage and advancing automatically to the next phase of the competition. Despite benching in-form Jude Bellingham, who has scored twice as many goals as any other Madrid player this season, Los Blancos were able to defeat Braga in a comfortable 3-0 affair, featuring goals from young trio Brahim Diaz, Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo.
From Group C, Napoli are in the prime seat to follow the 14-time UCL champions into the round of 16, despite a disappointing draw against bottom-placed Union Berlin last night.
Last night’s events also saw 2023 finalists Inter Milan automatically qualify for the round of 16 alongside Real Sociedad in Group D, as both sides collect 10 points in the opening four games.
It was a late penalty converted by Argentina striker Lautaro Martinez that broke the deadlock between the side and Red Bull Salzburg, which was enough to guarantee the Nerazzurri a spot in the next round. The top spot in the group is all to play for, though, as Sociedad triumphed 3-1 over a Benfica side that is unrecognisable from European campaigns in recent years.
Overall, Real Sociedad, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and FC Bayern join Manchester City and Red Bull Leipzig as early Round of 16 graduates with two matches left to play.
The next round begins on November 28.
Contact the writer of this story, Harry Ewing, at firstname.lastname@example.org