Manchester United’s miserable Champions League campaign ended in a fitting way as Bayern Munich triumphed 1-0 at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening.
United’s chances of reaching the round of 16 were minimal heading into the final matchday of the group stage fixtures.
They had to beat already-qualified Bayern and hope Copenhagen’s home clash against Galatasaray in the other Group A encounter ends level.
While Lukas Lerager’s second-half winner at Parken Stadium eventually fired the reigning Danish champions to an unlikely runner-up finish, the Red Devils failed to hold up their end of the bargain.
Erik ten Hag’s side came into proceedings desperate to make amends for a humiliating 3-0 home defeat to Premier League minnows Bournemouth at the weekend and potentially salvage their faltering European season.
However, Man United delivered another sub-par performance in front of the devastated home crowd, succumbing to a fourth loss in their last six outings at Old Trafford.
Perhaps still under the impression of a shocking 5-1 routing at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt, perennial Bundesliga champions Bayern performed well below their standards.
But even the visitors’ underwhelming display wasn’t helpful enough for United to exorcise their devils as Ten Hag’s side looked up the creek without a paddle from the first whistle.
In a hectic first half of very few opportunities, the hosts produced just one shot on target as a lack of team chemistry and shortage of confidence hindered United’s bid to open the scoring.
Seemingly content with avoiding defeat at Old Trafford, Bayern matched the Red Devils’ chaotic rhythm, with Thomas Tuchel’s side only sporadically threatening Andre Onana’s goal.
Ten Hag’s problems piled up on the stroke of half-time as Harry Maguire had to be substituted with an apparent thigh injury, forcing the introduction of Jonny Evans.
Only recently back from injury, the veteran defender looked rusty, while his clueless positioning led to the Bavarians’ winning goal midway through the second half.
Kingsley Coman slipped United’s defensive net to break one-on-one with Onana and comfortably put the ball in the back of the net.
Man Utd tried to change the narrative after falling behind, but it was too little too late, with Ten Hag subbing on Hanibal Mejbri and Facundo Pelistri in a last-ditch attempt to turn the tables.
However, there was never a way back into this contest for the fallen giants.
Barring Antony’s often unsuccessful attempts to orchestrate something on his own on the right flank, United had no idea how to break down Bayern’s backline.
Left on the island to fight his own personal battle with Dayot Upamecano, Rasmus Hojlund spent most of the game cut off from the rest of the pack, barely having a clear sight of goal.
Alejandro Garnacho struggled against Noussair Mazraoui, while Bruno Fernandes looked more interested in arguing with referees than making a difference on the pitch.
As Chuck Prince famously said during the ‘2008 meltdown’ – you have to dance until the music stops.
From Man Utd fans’ point of view, the music stopped months ago.
Ratcliffe unable to spend big at Man United this summer due to PSR squeeze
Fulham ready to offload Palhinha amid Chelsea, Man City & Liverpool interest
Liverpool eye summer swoop for Crystal Palace defender Marc Guehi
Premier League calls emergency meeting amid ‘New Deal’ settlement deadline
Liverpool and Man United table proposals for Kylian Mbappe
Chelsea poach Brighton recruitment chief Sam Jewell
Southgate eyes uncapped replacements for struggling Phillips – but are they good enough?
Should Chelsea try to rescue Kane from Bayern nightmare?
West Ham shortlist three managers to replace David Moyes
Ratcliffe to cut around 250 jobs at Man United amid restructuring