English giants, Manchester United crashed out of the Champions League after losing 3-2 to Bundesliga side Wolfsburg in a dramatic night at the Volkswagen arena.In a match they simply needed to win in order to qualify for the knockout rounds, United started the brighter of the two teams and managed to find the back out the net as early as in the tenth minute- Juan Mata's sublime through-ball was slotted in calmly by Anthony Martial.But United's lead lasted just three minutes as Wolfsburg managed to fire in an equalizer after winning a set-piece in United's half. Ricardo Rodriguez's stunning ball into the box latched onto by Naldo to make it all square in a sensational first fifteen minutes. It needed a moment of magic from German wonder kid Julian Draxler for Wolfsburg's second as he effortlessly bamboozled the United defense to provide a tap in for Vieirinha at the half hour mark.United were disallowed an equalizer when Jesse Lingard’s shot found the back of the net as Juan Mata was adjudged to be offside by a late decision from the linesman, in which he correctly deemed the Spaniard to be interfering with play.Late into the game United did manage to sneak in an equalizer after Fellaini's header was looped into his own net by Wolfsburg's French midfielder Josuha Guilavogui. But, United failed in their effort to share the spoils after Wolfsburg scored almost immediately from a corner and managed to earn the three points for securing top spot in the group.With PSV Eindhoven scoring late in a 2-1 win away to CSKA Moscow, United needed to score two goals in the dying moments of the game to keep themselves alive in the competition. A task that proved to be a bit too much for the Red Devils, who ultimately finished third in the group and are now demoted to the Europa league.Let us discuss few important pointers from this breathtaking game.
#1 Van Gaal made some bold decisions
In what was a must-win encounter for the Red Devils, Louis van Gaal gambled by making some eye-catching decisions before and during the game. He diverted from his usual policy of playing two defensive midfielders by dropping Michael Carrick to the bench, showcasing a clear attacking intent.
More eyebrows were raised when he fielded young Uruguayan Guillermo Varela in the right-back positionahead of Ashley Young, who was widely expected to fill in the role.
Matteo Darmian added to the growing injury list that United have to deal with when he pulled over in the later part of the first half. Again, van Gaal made a striking call when he substituted the Italianfor Uniteds 18-year old academy product, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson. For a player who has featured in just one appearance this season, it was a great show of confidence from the manager in a such a high-pressure game.
Van Gaal then dished out a double change in the middle of the second half- one of which was replacing the influential Juan Mata with Nick Powell who was returning to the lineup after a long injury layoff. With the likes of playmakers like Ashley Young and Andreas Pereira available on the bench, it seemed a strange call to bring on21-year old Powell.