Arsenal and PSV became the latest to ensure they would play Champions League soccer in the new year with thrilling, but different matches. Arsenal thrashed Lens 6-0 and ended the French side's hopes of the next round, while PSV came back from 2-0 down against Sevilla courtesy of a goal from U.S. men's national team forward Ricardo Pepi.
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Once again, the biggest takeaway from a Champions League matchday is Manchester United after they failed to win at Galatasaray. The English side are bottom of Group A with four points and need to beat Bayern Munich and hope Copenhagen and Galatasaray draw when they face each other on Matchday 6 to advance, but their recent form remains unconvincing.
Here are the scores and three takeaways from Wednesday's Champions League action.
- Galatasaray 3, Manchester United 3
- Sevilla 2, PSV 3
- Bayern Munich 0, Copenhagen 0
- Real Madrid 4, Napoli, 2
- Real Sociedad 0, RB Salzburg 0
- Braga 1, Union Berlin1
- Arsenal 6, Lens 0
- Benfica 3, Inter 3
Manchester United's defense leaks again
Manchester United relinquished a two goal lead not once, but twice at Galatasaray on the back of sloppy defending in their 3-3 draw in Istanbul. Goalkeeper Andre Onana was responsible for two of those errors -- Hakim Ziyech notched a brace from freekicks that sailed directly towards goal, and Onana mismanaged the situation on both occasions.
The visitors' attacking exploits were canceled out by their inability to keep Galatasaray at bay. United barely outshot Galatasaray 17 to 16, but the hosts had eight shots on target to the visitors' four. The Turkish side also lost the expected goals battle with 1.49 to their counterparts' 1.79, but were able to overperform that count because of Onana's errors. Even without the goalkeeping mistakes, Galatasaray were in charge with 57% possession and looked dangerous all night.
It leaves United with just one win in five Champions League games this season, and it appears unlikely that they will beat Bayern on Matchday 6 despite the fact that the German side already locked up first place in the group.
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Late dramatics seal fates
Five of the eight games on Wednesday featured five or more goals, and a handful of them came later in the second half. Benfica's Joao Mario scored a first half hattrick but Inter were able to come back with three goals of their own in the second half, ensuring that Inter and Real Sociedad would play each other for top spot in Group D on Matchday 6.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, gave up a one goal lead twice to Napoli but took the lead for a final time in the 84th minute courtesy of 19-year-old Nico Paz. The academy product scored his first goal for the club -- which was another example of poor goalkeeping on Matchday 5 -- and then saw Joselu add to his side's account in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
Arguably no team was more dramatic than PSV, who went down 2-0 to a Sevilla team who needed to win to stay alive in the Champions League. Luis Ocampos' 66th minute red card provided an opening for PSV that the Dutch side, who scored three times after that. The final goal came in the 92nd minute from Pepi, who sent his side through to the round of 16 with his first-ever Champions League goal.
Arsenal soar and look like contenders
It has been a nice few weeks for Arsenal, and things only got better with a spot in the round of 16 on the line. The Gunners scored five goals in the first half against Lens, the first of which came from Kai Havertz just a few days after he scored the team's game winner against Brentford in league play.
Mikel Arteta's team were in impressive finishing form throughout -- they scored six of their eight shots on target and very much outperformed their expected goals score of 2.59. The result means they will finish the group stage atop Group B and a few days after rising to the top of the Premier League table, might be hitting their stride at the right time.