Emboldened, perhaps, by his club's recent ascension to the top of the English Premier League, Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal said that the Red Devils had a "realistic" chance of winning the Champions League by 2017. The Dutchman wouldn't go as far as to predict a UCL victory for this team this year though. The Red Devils did get one step closer to that goal as Manchester United grab Champions League win against Wolfsburg last Wednesday at Old Trafford.
A Long-Awaited Champions League Win
Manchester United's last win of the 2013 2014 Champions League took place on March 19th, 2014, with a 3-0 triumph against Olympiacos. 560 days later, they beat Wolfsburg to end their lengthy drought of wins at Europe's most prestigious club football competition.
Chasing the Title
Not that a single good game puts Manchester United in range of a Champions League title. After all, the Red Devils still have some catching up to do from their first game of the soccer tournament, which they lost 1-2 to PSV Eindhoven.
Still, with Eindhoven losing 2-3 in their September 30th match against CSKA Moscow, and with Wolfsburg's loss to United (following a win over Moscow earlier in the month), things are incredibly even in Group D. All four teams have one win and one loss, three points in the standings, and goal difference ratings of zero. PSV have the slightest edge, having scored more goals (four) than the rest of the teams in the group. But for all intents and purposes Group D is a four-way tie.
Manchester Untied vs. Wolfsburg
The tie is good news for the Red Devils, especially since Manchester United could have easily found themselves in a different situation after their fixture with Wolfsburg. The Wolves took the lead just four minutes into the match, with midfielder Daniel Caligiuri scoring to put a damper on United's supposed home field advantage.
Wolfsburg held the lead for the majority of the first half, and Manchester United's slow defense on that first key play had fans worried that the Red Devils might concede yet another Champions League game. But United seemed to find their feet at the 26th minute, with a wunderkind Anthony Martial slipping effortlessly by Wolfsburg defenders and sending the ball to Wayne Rooney. Rooney had a wide open shot at an unguarded goal but kicked the ball high and missed.
Luckily, a 34-minute penalty goal from Juan Mata put the home team back in the game before the end of the first half. And in the second half, the Red Devils quickly took the lead, thanks to a Mata-assisted goal from defender Chris Smalling. United still had a few minutes of clumsy play here and there during the second half-one of which almost allowed Wolfsburg's Andre Schurrle to equalize the score. Ultimately, though, Manchester held on long enough to earn their first Champions League tournament win in a year and a half.
Which football club are you rooting for in Group D? Are you hoping that the Wolves pull out a surprise upset? Or do you want to see Manchester United back in the round of 16 after missing out on the Champions League last year? Support your favorite squad with a Wolfsburg jersey 2015 2016 or a Manchester United shirt from Soccer Box.