English giants Manchester United ended a challenging week with another loss, this time losing 2-1 to newly promoted Bournemouth on Saturday. The defeat adds more pressure on manager Louis van Gaal although injuries meant they were missing their entire first-choice back four.
The Red Devils were eliminated from the Champions League in midweek after losing 3-2 to Wolfsburg in Germany, which compounded underwhelming recent domestic form.
Van Gaal’s men failed to make amends at the Vitality Stadium, with former United player Joshua King scored the decisive goal for the Cherries after Marouane Fellaini had cancelled out Junior Stanislas’ early opener.
The loss means that United have not recorded a victory in their last five games in all competitions and will drop out of the Premier League’s top four if Tottenham Hotspur beat Newcastle on Sunday.
The Old Trafford supporters have become disillusioned with Van Gaal’s style of play, with a defensive outlook going against the years of attacking football they had become accustomed to under Sir Alex Ferguson.
The United fans would surely consider sacrificing substance if results take its place, but the recent dip in form, added to abject performances, has increased the pressure on the Dutch coach.
Elsewhere in the Premier League, Manchester City regained the top spot with a last-gasp 2-1 win over a dejected Swansea City at the Etihad Stadium.
The Welsh side thought they had salvaged a late point when Bafetimbi Gomis equalized in the 90th minute, but Nigerian youngster Kelechi Iheanacho broke their hearts with an injury time winner.
In Spain, European champions Barcelona relinquished a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Deportivo La Coruna at Camp Nou.
Lionel Messi scored a sublime free-kick and Ivan Rakitic added a second, only for the visitors to rally and score twice in the last 15 minutes.
Inter Milan stretched their lead at the top of Serie A to four points with a commanding 4-0 away win over Udinese, with captain Mauro Icardi netting a brace.
In Germany, Bayern Munich recorded a 2-0 win over Ingolstadt in the penultimate game before the Bundesliga’s winter break, with Robert Lewandowski and Philipp Lahm on target.
The result ensures the Bavarians go into the halfway point of the domestic campaign top of the table for a record fifth season in succession.
Despite the importance of club fixtures across the continent, all eyes were on the Euro 2016 draw in Paris.
The groups for next summer’s tournament in France were drawn, with Russia partnered with England, Wales and Slovakia in Group B.