On a royally good evening for standout Spanish teams, Manchester United fell in another wild loss in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Real Madrid and Real Sociedad advanced to the round of 16 with two games to spare after impressive home wins over Portuguese opponents, respectively 3-0 against Braga and 3-1 over Benfica.
Bayern Munich and Inter Milan also won and will be in the knockout phase after getting key late goals from their talismanic strikers, Harry Kane and Lautaro Martínez.
Kane scored in the 80th and 86th minutes in a 2-1 win over Galatasaray and Inter’s 1-0 win at Salzburg was sealed by Martínez’s penalty in the 85th.
Rashford’s red card sparks chaos
Man United almost never has straightforward games in the English giant’s drama-filled season on and off the field.
A 4-3 loss at Copenhagen — the same result as United’s opening game at Bayern — after twice letting leads slip left coach Erik ten Hag’s team last in Group A.
The three-time European champion seemed in total control with a two-goal lead after 28 minutes earned by $80 million forward Rasmus Højlund, returning to face his former club.
A red card for United forward Marcus Rashford in the 42th sparked the chaos to follow, which saw Copenhagen level the score in 13 minutes of first-half stoppage time because of two pauses in play, including a protester on the field.
United led again when Bruno Fernandes scored from the penalty spot in the 69th but could not hang on. Lukas Lerager leveled in the 83rd before 17-year-old substitute Roony Bardghji won it in the 87th.
The Kuwait-born, Sweden under-21 winger scored with a bouncing shot to lift the Danish champion into second place in the group standings, though with just four points. Galatasaray also has four points before hosting United, which has three, next on November 29.
Arsenal beats Sevilla
Arsenal took a four-point lead in Group B by comfortably beating Sevilla 2-0 while PSV Eindhoven rose from last place to second with its first win, 1-0 at home to Lens.
In Madrid’s group, Napoli has a grip on second place despite failing to extend Union Berlin’s losing run in all competitions to 13 games.
Napoli wasted a lead in a 1-1 draw that Union earned when David Datro Fofana, a forward on loan from Chelsea, scored in the 52nd for his first goal in almost a year.
Real Madrid impressive
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti plans included resting breakout star Jude Bellingham in what was a vibrant game with Braga for the record 14-time European champion.
Not in the plan was selecting Ukraine goalkeeper Andriy Lunin, who got a late call when first choice Kepa Arrizabalaga was unable to warm up because of a leg muscle injury.
Just six minutes into his third game of the season for Madrid, and first since August, Lunin saved a penalty from Braga’s Alvaro Djaló.
Brahim Díaz had a goal disallowed before he gave Madrid a first-half lead and Brazil teammates Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo added goals in a three-minute spell around the hour mark.
Real Sociedad threatened to sweep aside Benfica in the first half of a 3-1 win that saw its three goals all scored by the 21st and a penalty missed minutes later.
In its first Champions League campaign for 10 years, Real Sociedad and long-serving coach Imanol Aguacil are impressing with a largely homegrown group of players from the Basque region.
A Champions League quarterfinalist in each of the past two seasons, Benfica is a total bust this season. The champion of Portugal sustained its fourth straight loss, leaving no chance of reaching the knockout stage.
One year ago, Benfica went unbeaten through its group and finished top ahead of Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.
Coach Roger Schmidt’s team then included Argentina midfielder Enzo Fernandez and Portugal forward Gonçalo Ramos who would both later shine at the World Cup in Qatar. They are now at Chelsea and PSG, respectively.
Schmidt acknowledged Wednesday his players “aren’t ready for the demands of a game at this level in the Champions League.”
Benfica has two games left to save face and secure entry into the Europa League knockout playoffs in February by finishing third in Group D. A last game at Salzburg on December 12 should be decisive.