Manchester United now face a difficult playoff against one of the teams that dropped out of the Europa League from the Champions League in February, with potential opponents from Barcelona and Juventus.
LONDON – Manchester United failed to usurp Real Sociedad at the top of Europa League Group E despite a 1-0 victory in San Sebastian as Arsenal secured their place in the round of 16 on Thursday.
United now face a tough playoff against one of the teams that dropped out of the Europa League from the Champions League in February, with potential opponents from Barcelona and Juventus.
Alejandro Garnacho scored the only goal of the night at Reale Arena in the 17th minute, surpassing George Best as United’s youngest non-English goalscorer in Europe at 18.
But the Red Devils were left to mourn the loss to the Spaniards at Old Trafford in the first round as they lost the group’s top spot on goal difference.
“You don’t always get what you deserve – this is football,” said United manager Erik Ten Hag.
“We won today, but of course we’re disappointed that we didn’t score two goals because that’s what we needed.”
Arsenal did not make the same mistake, as a 1-0 victory over FC Zurich was enough to hold off PSV Eindhoven and win Group A.
But Mikel Arteta’s men were forced to work for three points after an early goal from Kieran Tierney put them ahead.
Arteta was forced to sit on the bench for the second half with Bukayo Saka and Thomas Partey risking despite a trip to Chelsea on Sunday for the Premier League leaders.
And the Gunners narrowly escaped when Adrian Guerrero scored for the Swiss champions but was flagged offside.
Roma won their clash with Ludogorets Razgrad to advance to the playoff round thanks to a second-half comeback in the Italian capital.
The inaugural winners of the Europa Conference League were heading back into that competition as the Bulgarians led 1-0 at half-time.
But two penalties from Lorenzo Pellegrini and a late goal from Nicolo Zaniolo gave José Mourinho’s men through.
Feyenoord and Midtjylland advanced from an incredibly tight Group F that saw all four teams finish with eight points.
The Dutch giants beat Lazio 1-0 in Rotterdam thanks to a goal from Santiago Gimenez.
Midtjylland beat Sturm Graz 2-0 with two goals from Anders Dreyer.
Union Berlin, Nantes and Monaco also won to secure progress to the playoffs.
Arsenal and Sociedad will be joined by Fenerbahce, Real Betis, Union Saint-Gilloise, Feyenoord, Freiburg and Ferencvaros, advancing directly to the round of 16.
In the Europa Conference League Anderlecht, Lech Poznan, Nice, Partizan Belgrade, Gent and Cluj secured their places in the knockout stage.
West Ham ended a perfect group stage of six wins out of six despite putting a young side in a 3-0 win over FCSB in Bucharest.