Bayern Munich gave Manchester United a taste of their own medicine as they showed the English team how it feels to come from behind in a match and win it in injury time. At the Allianz Arena Ivica Olic’s late winner gave Bayern a 2-1 advantage after the first leg of the quarter-final tie.
The night will, once again this season, be associated with Wayne Rooney- but mainly for worrying reasons. The positive was that it took United just 66 seconds to open the scoring after a Nani free-kick from near the right-hand side corner flag was deflected, thus looping up highly in the air, only for it to fall to an unmarked Rooney who neatly side footed a volley in to the roof of the net. However, in the lead up to Bayern’s injury time winner, Rooney fell awkwardly to the ground and looked to have twisted his right ankle as he limped off the ground while the home team were celebrating the victory.
3,300 United fans made the trip across to Germany and it was they who were making the noise in an otherwise shocked stadium after just one minute. With the perfect start it was made for United to go on and get a grip on the game, but it did not work out like that for the away team. Sometimes in football it is said that “you can score too early” and it looked exactly like that. Sir Alex Ferguson’s team dropped deeper and deeper and allowed Bayern to take control of the game, especially their midfield players Mark van Bommel and Hamit Altintop.
Aside from Rooney, talk before the game centred on Bayern’s influential winger Franck Ribery and it was he who created the German team’s first real chance. He played a delightful defence splitting ball over the top, and Altintop, who came running in from the right on the blind side of Patrice Evra, had only Edwin van der Sar to beat but he miscontrolled the pass. United kept getting sucked in and again the trio of Ribery, van der Sar and Altintop were in the thick of the action. Ribery’s cross was poorly cleared by van der Sar and Altintop reacted with a first time shot across goal which really should have been finished off by Olic, but he let the ball slip under his foot.
Much of the first half was played in United’s territory, although the Red Devils did carve out their only notable chance against the run of play. A fine move saw Darren Fletcher find himself on the left-hand side and he whipped in a delightful cross that landed at the feet of Rooney, but his instant control and shot went directly at goalkeeper Hans-Jorg Butt.
Much to the frustration of Ferguson, the second half began just how Bayern played in the first half- with a great pace about their game. Mark van Bommel and Thomas Muller both tested van der Sar with decent efforts, before Altintop dribbled his way through the United defence and from just inside the area he drilled a right foot shot straight at van der Sar who beat it away in front of him.
United’s game plan seemed to suggest that they were relying on the outlet of Rooney and Nani, and with that failing to work it was the midfield trio of Darren Fletcher, Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick who were struggling to string two or three passes together and allowed Bayern to take the initiative. After pressure on the United goal, Louis van Gaal’s men came up with their equaliser. Gary Neville gave a free-kick away with a blatant handball approximately 20-yards out. Ribery stepped up and struck a low shot that took a wicked deflection of Rooney and made its way to the back of the net.
The only time United threatened after the goal was when substitute Ryan Giggs hit an outswinging corner which was met by a thumping Nemanja Vidic header which crashed against the crossbar. The last word was to rest with Bayern and a sloppy Evra who was mainly at fault for the winner. The Frenchman failed to clear the ball from inside the area and let Olic steal in, cut inside and send a low shot past van der Sar to win the game with the last kick.
United have some work to do in order to turn the result around at Old Trafford in a week’s time, whilst their fans, and not to mention England fans, will be praying that Wayne Rooney’s injury is not damaging.
After the match, and referring to the injury, Ferguson said “I don’t think it’s terribly serious.” And on reflection he admitted United were average at best. He said: “We gave the ball away too easily from minute one. Our possession wasn’t our standard and that’s something we pride ourselves on. However, the game at Old Trafford will be a different one and we will be much better. No doubt about that.”
Meanwhile, van Gaal was naturally very pleased with the victory. He said: “After a shock first goal, we needed 10 minutes to recover and afterwards we were the best side.”
You can see action from the Allianz Arena below.
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