Christian Pulisic’s effort for Chelsea went to waste in Russia, while Brenden Aaronon’s Red Bulls and Tim Weah’s Lille went through in Group G, and Sergiño Dest saw Barcelona drop to the Europa League.
RB Leipzig 2 – 1 Manchester City
Zack Steffen started in Manchester City’s goal and Tyler Adams was a late substitute for hosts RB Leipzig, as the Germans came out victors on Tuesday night with a convincing win over the Premier League Powerhouse.
Having already been eliminated from any chance of making the final 16, Leipzig were trying to ensure their place in the Europa League, while Steffen and City had nothing to lose regardless of the outcome.
Despite giving up a pair of goals, the USMNT starter still made three saves against the Leipzigers, and more importantly ensured that he will qualify for a champions medallion should his team end up winning the competition.
The hosts were always on the front foot, netting their first in the 24th minute when snuck in behind the defense to pull down a long ball from Konrad Laimer, rounded Steffen and easily slotting his shot for the early lead.
Adams replaced Laimer just past the hour, and the Germans made it 2-0 with 19 minutes left in regulation with Emil Forsberg setting up Andre Silva for an uncontested shot from 15 yards straight-out.
City did pull one back six minutes later with Riyad Mahrez lunging forward at the far post to head in a long cross from Oleksandr Zinchenko, but the Germans were able to hold on, helped by the utter stupidity of Kyle Walker’s late direct-red, earning only their second win of the group stage.
Manchester City were already confirmed as group champions prior to the game, and will await the result of next Monday’s draw to find out their opponents for the Round of 16. Leipzig fall into the Europa League knockout play-off round, and will also find out their opponents on Monday.
In the meantime, Steffen will return to City’s bench when they host Wolves on Saturday, while Adams and the Leipzigers try to get their Bundesliga season back on track this weekend against visiting ‘Gladbach.
Zenit St. Petersburg 3 – 3 Chelsea
Christian Pulisic set up what looked to be Chelsea’s winning goal in St. Petersburg on Wednesday, but a late equalizer by their Russian hosts left them forced to settle for second place in Group H.
Timo Werner was the hero of the day for Chelsea, being involved in all three of the team’s goals, beginning with a second-minute strike, connecting with a corner that was headed on by Andreas Christensen.
The Russians pulled even in the 38th minute thanks to a header from Claudinho following poor defending by Chelsea, then book the lead four minutes before the break following an unnecessary turnover, with Sardar Azmoun beating Chelsea keeper Kepa in the final one-on-one.
Werner was the catalyst for the Chelsea equalizer two minutes past the hour, combining with several teammates to advance the ball deep into Zenit’s area before setting up Romelu Lukaku for an easy short-range finish.
Pulisic entered the fold three minutes afterwards in place of Callum Hudson-Odoi, and set up Werner’s second in the 85th minute, combining with Hakim Ziyech before hitting the German with the final pass, which he adeptly put away for the 3-2 lead.
With the win, and top spot in Group H seemingly secured for the Blues, Zenit had one last trick up their sleeve, as Magomed Ozodoev picked up a loose ball at the top of the area in the 94th minute, and blasted his shot to the upper left corner to secure the last-second draw for the hosts.
The late Zenit goal cost Chelsea the first position in the group, however they still easily advance to the competition’s final 16. They await their knockout opponent in Monday’s draw, but continue on a brutal run of games in multiple competitions, with Leeds visiting in league Premiership action on Saturday.
FC Bayern 3 – 0 Barcelona
Sergiño Dest lasted only a half for Barcelona on Wednesday, as the team were destroyed by Bayern and found themselves facing an unfamiliar future in the Europa League.
The Blaugrana had scant hope of advancing coming into the game, needing Benfica to falter against Ukrainian creampuffs Kiev, and failing that (Benfica won 2-0), the necessity to gain an unlikely result against the Bavarians.
Dest started on the right side of head coach Xavi’s attack, as a winger in a five-man midfield, but could do little to lift the utterly overwhelmed Spanish visitors to anything other than their predestined fate.
The Bavarians took the lead in the 34th minute when Robert Lewandowski held the ball under pressure from Gerard Pique long enough to lift a short cross that was headed in by Thomas Müller, then made it 2-0 just before the half blasting a shot from distance to beat Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Dest was pulled at the half in favor of Nico, but it did little to help the Catalonians’ cause, with Alphonso Davies laying off a short pass from the endline to Jamal Musiala for an easy finish to seal the 3-0 victory.
Having officially exited from Europe’s grown-up table, the underperforming Blaugrana will turn their immediate focus to trying to avoid missing the competition all-together next season, and will try to slowly climb to Spain’s top four with their visit to Osasuna on Sunday.
Manchester United 1 – 1 Young Boys Bern
Jordan Pefok and Young Boys were unable to avoid falling to last in Group F, although they were able to claim the consolation prize of having the overall edge on Manchester United over both legs thanks to their 1-1 draw on Wednesday.
Pefok started atop the Young Boys attack, and played just over an hour before making way for Wilfried Kanga in the 62nd minute.
Manchester United youngster Mason Greenwood put his team in the lead after nine minutes, contorting his body to reach a Luke Shaw cross, which he hit past Guillaume Faivre for the 1-0.
Young Boys gave themselves hope of stealing an improbable away win when Fabian Rieder stole a poor pass from Donny van de Beek and fired into the upper right corner from 20 yards out.
However, neither David Wagner’s nor Ralf Rangnick’s men were unable to add any more to their totals, with the game ending a 1-1 draw.
The result means that Young Boys took a total of four points from their two games against the English giants, thanks to their shock win in the first gameday. Nevertheless, they are completely out of European competition, even with the second-place decider between Atalanta and Villarreal still to be played on Thursday evening due to a snow delay.
RB Salzburg 1 – 0 FC Sevilla
Brenden Aaronson served up a hockey assist for Salzburg on Wednesday, helping to set up their winning goal against Sevilla as the completed an impressive group-stage run with a victory that puts them in the final 16 of the competition.
The American started in the center of Salzburg’s midfield, playing the full 90 minutes while completing roughly 85% of his 27 passes, firing off a pair of shots, and contributing to the lone goal of the game.
The Austrians secure the victory in the 50th minute on a solid team effort; Aaronson received the ball in the midfield and advanced before firing it off to Karim Adeymi on the left edge. The German attacker then cut inwards and hit a loss cross to the middle, where Noah Okafor streaked in to put away with his first touch.
Salzburg will find out their opponents for next year’s round of 16 pairings on Monday. In the meantime, they have their last game before the long winter break on Saturday, hosting WSG Tirol, then will be back in action in early-February with a full slate of league and Austrian Cup games.
Owen Otasowie was in uniform, but did not take the field for Brugge on Tuesday night, as they ended their European campaign with a 4-1 loss at PSG. Having finished last in the group, the Belgians are out of Europe, and can concentrate on a tough Jupiler Pro League season that has them currently sitting in third place.
Giovanni Reyna is still in the last stages of his recovery from a leg injury, and did not suit up for Dortmund’s 5-0 win against visiting Turkish team Besiktas on Tuesday evening. BVB’s European campaign continues in February in the knockout round play-offs, where they are placed as third-place finishers in their group. In the meantime, they still have several more Bundesliga games before the winter break, with a visit to Bochum next up on Saturday afternoon.
Weston McKennie was given another game off to recoup from his knee injury, and watched from the stands as Juve beat Malmö by a 1-0 scoreline on Wednesday evening. The Bianconeri are through to the Round of 16 in March, but will try to give their lagging Serie A campaign a boost before Christmas, beginning with a visit to Venezia on Saturday.
Neither John Brooks nor Timothy Weah played on Wednesday night in Lille’s 3-1 win over Wolfsburg. Brooks was left on the bench for the hosts while Weah is injured and didn’t make the trip from France. The result sees Lille win the group and advance to the final 16 of the Champions League, while Wolfsburg are completely out of Europe with the loss.