Video: CL semi-final: Ivica Olic fires Bayern past Man Utd

A magical finish. The indefatigable Ivica Olic steals the ball away from Patrice Evra in stoppage time and then outruns Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, looks up, and slots the ball coolly past Van Der Saar. He then takes his shirt of in celebration and is booked by referee De Bleekere. On the other end, a worrying sight for Man Utd as Rooney is hobbles off the pitch with an ankle injury.
A summation of the match. Man Utd went ahead after a series of Martin Demichelis blunders in the first minute of play. The Argentinian made a boneheaded tackle on Nani. On the ensuing free kick Demichelis was unable to challenge a surging Wayne Rooney as he lost his footing, leaving the Man Utd striker in perfect position for a stunning volley past Hans Joerg Butt.
Man Utd had gone ahead before the fans had time to settle down. The Allianz Arena quietens down in a flash.
Bayern responded in heartening fashion as Ribery, Pranjic, and Altintop exerted control over the midfield. Gary Neville looked every bit of his 35 years trying to stop a Ribery who slithered his way around the left testing and probing the Utd defense. Nani and Rooney provided Man Utd with their chances as the first half ended quite evenly contested.
The second half began with the Bayern trio energized in the same fashion. Altintop in particular looked very good with his crosses and mazy runs. He was a surprise choice as Louis Van Gaal so far has started him very occasionally. With their choke hold Butt was rarely tested till Vidic’s bullet header fortuitously clanged off the crossbar.
However, for all of their possession and initiative it took a shocking handball from Gary Neville who needs to retire for Bayern to set up their equalizer. Ribery’s low slung free kick took a deflection of a jumping Rooney and the ball nestled in the net without Van De Saar moving a muscle. Quite stunning.
But not as stunning as Olic’s winner about eight minutes later.
A note about Martin Demichelis. He turned things around quite nicely in the second half and was instrumental in nullifying Rooney and Park Ji Sung.
The teams meet again April 7th on OId Trafford with Man Utd with the all important away goal advantage. However, Bayern will visit at full strength getting back Arjen Robben as well as Bastian Schweinsteiger. From what one saw at the Allianz Arena, Bayern was able to successfully stretch the Utd defense going wide. The fullbacks especially Neville looked quite vulnerable. Sir Alex might want to think about a change.

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One comment on “Video: CL semi-final: Ivica Olic fires Bayern past Man Utd
  1. Mostly spot on, but I have to disagree about Neville.
    While it was certainly true of Neville last year that he looked like he needed to retire, his form in the last few weeks has been nothing short of stunning for a man of his age. Due to O’Shea and Brown being out for so much of the season, there’s no doubt that he’s been our best right full-back, and earned his place in every game recently. Rafael is a talented youngster, and will replace him in the coming years, but doesn’t yet have the understanding with Valencia that Neville seems to. What Neville lacks in pace he makes up for with brilliant positioning, and allows Valencia to track back and put off the speedy wingers. Today, Nani, despite his efforts, could not do that.
    A good example of this was how in the last round, Rafael was beaten regularly by Ronaldinho at the San Siro, whereas Neville, a total mismatch for him on paper, didn’t allow Ronaldinho to make any significant contributions in the return leg.
    As for the handball, I don’t believe it was intentional, but more a case of a player losing his balance at an unfortunate time and being even more unfortunate to have his flailing arm catch the ball. Certainly a free kick, and then some luck finally swung Bayern’s way. And I say all this about Neville despite being one of the more vocal United fans encouraging him to retire last summer.
    United’s problems today came from the same problems against Barcelona: not controlling midfield. It was different this year, though, as no one would claim that Bayern are a better team than United (Barca clearly were), even in United’s less than stellar midfield. They just managed to drag us down to their level like a typical German team, and pounce on our errors. That’s not an insult of them either, more an observation of how well the players executed their coach’s tactical plan. They outplayed us today, and based on the game, probably deserved a more comfortable lead heading into the second leg.
    I still think United are good enough to go through, but nothing about that performance suggests to me that we can win the competition. I mean, Arsenal, Inter and Barca are all far better teams than Bayern, and Lyon seem to be just as good, so it’s asking a bit too much for us to win in Europe this year. I just have to hope that we can hold on for a historic 4th consecutive title, although depending on the extent of Rooney’s injury and the massive game against a confident Chelsea team, that also may be asking too much.

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