Sir Alex Ferguson managed the final match of his career away from Old Trafford, and it looked set to complete on a high note, until the opposition had other ideas.
Having already secured his 13th Premier League title, Ferguson’s squad squandered a 3-goal lead for just the third time under his command (and twice in the match) as they played West Brom to a crazy 5-5 draw. It was exactly Ferguson’s 1,500th match in charge of Manchester United.
It was the first 5-5 draw in the Barclays Premier League, and the first in the English top flight since 1984 when Queens Park Rangers drew Newcastle. It was also the second-highest scoring match in Premier League history with the 10 combined goals.
Here’s a few snippets to give an idea of how odd this match was: loanee Romelu Lukaku, on possibly his last appearance with West Brom before he could return to Chelsea, grabbed a hat trick…as a halftime substitute. The two teams combined for 37 shots, just 12 on target, meaning only 2 shots on target failed to hit the back of the net. Finally, with United defenders Patrice Evra, Nemanja Vidic, and Rio Ferdinand all on the bench, the Red Devils conceded 3 goals in the final 10 minutes as West Brom stunned the visitors and shared the points.
It wasn’t just the end for Sir Alex either. Paul Scholes came on in the 69th minute to replace Shinji Kagawa in the final showing of the Englishman’s illustrious career. At 38 years of age, it was the 498th appearance in the Premier League for the man who Zinedine Zidane once called “the best midfielder of his generation.”
Sir Alex didn’t go out without another attempt at continuing the Manchester United youth assembly line. He handed Belgian teen and United youth product Adnan Junzaj his first appearance on the team sheet, albeit as an unused sub.
The point, combined with Swansea’s 3-0 home defeat to Fulham, gave West Brom an 8th place finish in the table.
Sunderland, Bournemouth, and Burnley all advanced to the League Cup third round, while Middlesbrough dropped out after finding themselves bested in extra-time.
A strong Boro lineup still saw its goal pummeled all evening by Fulham’s young squad, and Lasse Vigen Christensen won it in extra time with an assist from American youngster Luca de la Torre to complete the 2-1 scoreline. Middlesbrough went ahead early on an 8th minute header by David Nugent, but they were on the back foot the rest of the match. Scott Malone forced a Boro own-goal for the equalizer shortly after halftime, and Christensen won it seven minutes before penalties. The win for Fulham means they are unbeaten through five matches this season across Championship and League Cup play.
Burnley also went to extra-time after a scoreless full 90 minutes, and they were stunned by a goal from Accrington Stanley’s Matt Pearson in the 122nd minute, just ticks before penalties to down the Clarets 1-0. It was a dull match up to that point, and the League Two side earned its first-ever victory over a Premier League side in cup play with the late winner.
Bournemouth nudged past League Two side Morecambe 2-1 thanks to goals from Max Gradel and Marc Wilson, although Morecambe had leveled things for a bit between the two Cherries’ goals.
Sunderland also saw themselves through thanks to Adnan Januzaj‘s first goal for the Black Cats, an 83rd minute strike to down League One side Shrewsbury Town 1-0 at the Stadium of Light. The match was a relatively even affair until Januzaj’s late goal, but Sunderland likely deserved to win on number of chances, with Patrick van Anholt having the best prior opportunity just before halftime with a rocket saved by Jason Leutwiler.
The result was never in doubt for Manchester City after a 6-0 demolition of Steaua Bucharest in the first leg, but the Premier League side made it official as they eased into the group stage with a 0-0 second leg result at the Etihad.
Joe Hart started and played what could be his final match in a City shirt, with Pep Guardiola handing him potentially one last showing in front of the home fans. The fan favorite received a thunderous welcome from the home fans who understood the situation.
Guardiola rested Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, and David Silva but still put forth a strong side, and Fabian Delph‘s 58th minute goal sent Man City home with an easy victory and clean sheet. There was a scary moment when Kelechi Iheanacho appeared to pull up lame with a hamstring injury, and then suddenly passed out on the field, but he came to just before a Bucharest player was about to attempt to resuscitate him. The young striker was brought off in favor of Fernandinho in the 75th minute.
Also through easily is Borussia Monchengladbach, with a 6-1 home win over Young Boys to complete a 9-2 aggregate victory. Thorgan Hazard opened the scoring just nine minutes in with a solid bit of skill, and Raffael continued his solid run of form with a hat-trick to easy the Germans through. Hazard would eventually cap off a hat-trick in the 84th minute as well.
In the surprise of the round, Dutch giants Ajax saw themselves bow out of the Champions League following a 4-1 aggregate defeat to last year’s Russian Premier League runners up FC Rostov. The spot in the group stage was there for the taking after a 1-1 first leg in the Netherlands, but Ajax was hammered on Wednesday 4-1 in Russia. Rostov managed four goals with four different goalscorers, including Ecudorian international Christian Noboa. The visitors, meanwhile, didn’t even manage a shot on target until the 73rd minute.
FC Koln needed a late equalizer to send them through over APOEL Nicosia, as Paraguayan international Federico Santander scored in the 86th minute to level the match at 1-1 and give the visitors a 2-1 aggregate win. Finally, Dinamo Zagreb completed a stunning comeback, scoring twice after the 87th minute to beat Red Bull Salzburg 2-1 on the day in Austria and 3-2 on aggregate. Junior Fernandes scored in the 87th to level things at 1-1 and requiring extra time. Then Algerian international El Arabi Hilal Soudani bagged the winner in the 97th minute, sending the Croatians through to the group stage.
CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Chris Coleman says he chose to remain as Wales manager despite interest from Premier League side Hull because he’s in a job that is “close to his heart.”
The Football Association of Wales rejected an approach for Coleman from Hull this month, with the Welshman deciding to stay on rather than resigning.
Coleman, who guided Wales to the European Championship semifinals against the odds, said on Wednesday that “if someone comes and it’s the Premier League, anybody, you kind of look at it sideways. Of course.”
But, Coleman added, managing your country “comes around once, if you’re lucky.”
Coleman has made no secret of his desire to manage in club football in the future, but says “what I’ve got here is something very special and close to my heart.”
Who’s going to join Porto, Monaco, Legia Warsaw, Ludogorets Razgrad and Celtic as playoff teams to join the UEFA Champions League group stage?
The biggest names of Wednesday’s slate are cruising after their first legs, with Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach putting five and three goals on the board, respectively.
[ MORE: Champions League Tues. roundup ]
Could the match be Joe Hart‘s last for City? The longtime backstop gets the call with the transfer window a week away.
In the other three cases, things are wide open. Rostov plays Ajax, Red Bull Salzburg faces Dinamo Zagreb, and APOEL lines up Copenhagen.
Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League slate — FOLLOW LIVE
Borussia Monchengladbach (3) vs. (1) BSC Young Boys
Rostov (1) vs. (1) Ajax
Red Bull Salzburg (1) vs. (1) Dinamo Zagreb
APOEL (0) vs. (1) Copenhagen
Manchester City (5) vs. Steaua Bucuresti (0)