Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini struck a controversial winner in stoppage time to bring blessed relief to Old Trafford after a laboured 1-0 win over Young Boys edged them into the last 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday.
United’s struggles at home and their fans’ disenchantment had looked set to continue as it seemed that, for the first time in their history, they were going to be goalless at their own ground in a European tie for three matches in a row.
Yet, after largely dominating the match while being betrayed by a blunt edge up front, Fellaini turned to shoot home in the 91st minute, despite the ball appearing to come off his hand as he swivelled to strike it.
The late win after another sub-par performance at least ensured United qualified from Group H as they moved on to 10 points, two behind leaders Juventus who beat Valencia 1-0 to eliminate the Spaniards who have five. Young Boys are on one.
Elsewhere, Manchester City also progressed to the knockout stages after twice coming from behind to draw 2-2 with Olympique Lyonnais.
Goals from Maxwel Cornet were cancelled out by Aymeric Laporte and Sergio Aguero to leave City top of the group on 10 points. Lyon are second on seven points, two ahead of Shakhtar Donetsk who snatched a late 3-2 win at Hoffenheim to keep alive their hopes of reaching the last 16.
City often found themselves on the back foot in France and struggled to contain Ivorian forward Cornet who hit the bar before halftime. He gave the hosts the lead 10 minutes after the break with a fine left-foot finish from the edge of the area.
Pep Guardiola’s side equalised when Laporte headed in just after the hour. However, Cornet struck again 10 minutes from time with a low angled finish after latching on to a through ball from Memphis Depay.
Once again City levelled with a header, this time from Sergio Aguero straight from a Riyad Mahrez corner.
The draw would have been enough for both sides to reach the last 16 were it not for Shakhtar’s late winner. Lyon travel to Ukraine in a final group showdown next month.
Hoffenheim prop up the group on three points but can still clinch third place and a spot in the Europa League.
The night’s other scores
Shakhtar Donetsk 3
AEK Athens 0
Bayern Munich 5
CSKA Moscow 1
Viktoria Plzen 2
Real Madrid 2