Lyon advances, Real Madrid humiliated in Champions League
Two of European soccer’s grandest clubs paid the price for fielding weakened teams on the final night of Champions League group play, with Real Madrid slumping to a record home loss and Manchester United squandering a surprise opportunity to top its group.
On an evening when Lyon celebrated becoming the 16th and last team to qualify for the knockout stage, Madrid’s players were jeered off the field at the Santiago Bernabeu after a 3-0 defeat to CSKA Moscow — its heaviest loss in more than 250 home games in European competition.
“It’s a painful result,” Madrid left back Marcelo said.
At least that embarrassing loss didn’t stop the defending champions from topping their group. United didn’t have that luxury.
Like Madrid, United selected a largely second-string lineup with qualification secure, even though Jose Mourinho’s team still had a chance of climbing above Juventus to first place with a win.
With Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus surprisingly losing 2-1 at Swiss club Young Boys, United could have finished top — only to lose by the same score line at the Mestalla. Adding to United’s misery, Phil Jones scored an own-goal from outside his own area and Paul Pogba missed a great chance from around four yards out.
“Tonight, it is job done in a difficult group,” said Mourinho, whose team is now assured of facing one of the following group winners: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Porto or Paris Saint-Germain.
United was one of four English teams to reach the knockout stage for the second straight season. This was the first year when 16 group-stage places were guaranteed for the Big 4 leagues in Europe — Spain, England, Germany and Italy. The four countries put 12 teams in total into the round of 16, the draw for which is on Monday.