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The current top two in England’s top flight have been dumped out of Europe’s elite competition after Sir Alex Ferguson’s men succumbed to a 2-1 defeat at Basel in a crunch match while Napoli’s win over Villarreal ensured that Man. City’s 2-0 victory over Bayern Munich did not stop them from bowing out of the Champions League.
And to add to the woes of the Manchester rivals, both Ferguson and Mancini’s men will now be playing on Thursday nights in the Europa League. That scenario seemed unthinkable for Manchester United who were handed quite a favourable draw for the group stages back in August.
Manchester City, who were dealt an uneasy group on paper along with Arsenal, exit with their heads held up after a strong challenge which saw them fail by only a tiny margin in the end.
Therefore, flying the English flag in the Champions League this season will be London clubs Arsenal and Chelsea who both topped their groups to advance in the competition.
Another conclusion to draw from today’s results is that Arsenal’s record of qualifications to the Champions League’s knock-out stage for 12 straight seasons is hardly a cheap one.