Revenge. No other word can suffice for the prevailing emotion in Bavaria tonight after Bayern Munich over turned a 1-0 Manchester United lead to win 2-1 with the last kick of the game in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal.
Bayern dominated the match despite conceding an early goal and they levelled deservedly in the 75th minute via a deflected Frank Ribery free kick before Ivica Olic won the game with practically the last kick.
The Croatian striker stole the ball from Patrice Evra deep into injury time and struck a low shot past Edwin Van der Saar, tearing the roof off the Allianz Arena in the process.
United had taken the lead with barely a minute gone, Wayne Rooney left unmarked from a Nani free kick after Martin Demichelis was wrong footed and left sprawling by the in-form striker.
Sir Alex Ferguson sent out his preferred Champions League line-up in the Allianz Arena tonight, with a first choice back five and big game go-to men Darren Fletcher and Park Ji-Sung expected to deliver the goods.
Local journalists were reliably informed that Bayern coach Louis van Gaal would be content with a 0-0 draw, but United’s early goal did the German team a favour, forcing them to come out and play. And play they did.
With Mark Van Bommel and Daniel Pranjic dominating possession and Frank Ribery, Philip Lahm and Hamit Altintop finding joy down the flanks, United only retained their lead at half time due to the ineffectiveness of strikers Thomas Muller and Ivica Olic against Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. What Van Gaal would give for a striker of Rooney’s class.
United were restricted to long range shots and a half chance for Rooney in the 38th minute, when the striker collected a cross inside the box and had a shot blocked by on-rushing Bayern keeper, Hans Jorg-Butt.
Ferguson withdrew Paul Scholes to a deeper role shortly before halftime, with Michael Carrick moving further forward, but to little effect. Bayern continued to dictate terms before and after the break, with Ribery increasingly dangerous and Edwin Van der Saar frequently tested.
Great players for United they may have been, but Gary Neville and Scholes must surely now be past their use-by date. Scholes saw little of the ball and failed to influence play, a shadow of his former self. Neville was turned inside and out by Ribery and no longer has the pace required of a full back at this level.
Unable to regain the ball through the middle, Ferguson sought to make a change, bringing on Berbatov for Park and Valencia for Carrick. 4-4-2 and an attempt to fight fire with fire, but to no avail.
Despite having the lions share of the ball, Bayern thus far failed to convert possession into an equaliser and Van Gaal removed the ineffectual Muller for Mario Gomez who was joined later by Miroslav Klose.
The onslaught continued, but Bayern couldn’t find a way past Van der Saar and United looked to be escaping with a draw.
Both sides had chances to win the game late on. In the 82nd minute a Nemanja Vidic header crashed off the cross bar and Mario Gomez could have secured victory for Bayern in the 90th minute, Van der Saar clawing the his shot wide.
With the referee glancing at his watch, Olic became the hero on the night, just reward for his hard work.
Ferguson was beaten at his old game, with Bayern’s pace and width undoing United’s attempt to strangle the ball. In a worrying sign for United and England fans, Rooney limped off at the end. If the striker is missing next week and Arjen Robben returns, don’t bet against Bayern finishing the job and exorcising the demon of that night in Camp Nou.
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