Wolfsburg’s Naldo the nail in Manchester United’s Champions League Coffin

Manchester United crisis levels reached a crescendo in a crushing defeat to VfL Wolfsburg in Germany. The Red Devils got no help from group mate PSV Eindhoven, and by the time the fifth goal of the match had been scored, Wolfsburg sent United packing.

Anthony Martial started the scoring early in the 10th minute, but just three minutes later Naldo responded with a volley to the back of the net for his first of two goals in the game. Naldo’s outstanding performance made him a clear choice for Alt/Sports Man of the Match.

Man of the Match: Naldo
The 33-year-old central defender was on double duty. The Brazilian scored two goals (13’ and 84’) for the German side, and was the best defender on the field. Naldo was flawless in his 31 defensive actions with a 100 percent success rate. Furthermore, he made a total of 12 clearances, his highest in the competition so far this season.

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Data provided by Opta

Manchester United’s Attack
Despite creating five big chances, Man United converted only one for a goal – Martial’s in the tenth minute. Half of the Manchester United shots came from outside the area, but as made clear in the graphic above, a cluster of seven shots were taken from within the danger area. The team struggled to finish without captain Wayne Rooney out with an injury, but it was the Wolfsburg defense and goalkeeping that made the difference.

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Data provided by Opta
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Data provided by Opta

Wolfsburg’s Defense and Goalkeeping
Despite failing to clear a ball that led to an own goal by Frenchman Josuha Guilavogui in the 82nd minute, Wolfsburg’s defense presented a challenge for Man United. With Naldo as the stalwart, the Wolves were active in the area, as evidenced by the grey squares. Goalkeeper Diego Benaglio made four saves, one a close range shot from Felliani just moments before Vieirinha scored his first Champion’s League goal in the 29th minute to give Wolfsburg the lead before the half.

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Data provided by Opta

Wolfsburg’s Attack
Compared to the visitors, Wolfsburg created fewer opportunities for itself, but was productive when in front of goal. The concentration of dots in front of goal in the above graphic demonstrates the focus of the Wolfsburg attack. Of their four best chances, Wolfsburg finished three. With a 3-2 win, Wolfsburg advance top of their group for their first time in UEFA Champions League play, while Louis van Gaal’s men are downgraded to the Europa League.