For the first time since 2003, the Premier League will not have a team in the CL semi-finals.
It was a blistering start at Old Trafford by Man Utd who battered a shell shocked Bayern defense into pitiful submission. That is what Wayne Rooney brings just by his presence on the field. Passion, energy, and innovation.
In the 3rd minute, Rafael turns Ribery around and swings a pass across the pitch to Rooney who lays if off for Darren Gibson. The Man Utd striker expecting an entry pass runs ahead but Gibson sends in a scorching shot which leaves Hans Joerg Butt and the Bayern defense rooted to the spot.
Hardly had the shock of such an early goal worn off when Antonio Valencia toying with Holger Badstuber let off a cross which was turned into goal exquisitely by Nani’s back heel. We have been privileged to see some beautiful goals by that part of the body. Over the weekend, Joe Cole punishing Utd with the same. Within 6 minutes Man Utd were two up and Van Gaal’s boys looked dazed and confused.
In the 40th minute, Valencia took advantage of some shockingly shoddy defending by Martin Demichelis and laid a long pass that ran the length of the Bayern goal straight to an unmarked Nani who belted the ball past Butt. It was looking like Roma all over again.
However, Ivica Olic who should now be given the official sobriquet of the Hardest Working Forward Known To Mankind managed to pull Bayern back from the brink with a goal before half time. Mueller nodded a ball into the box as Carrick and Olic went after it in pursuit, colliding in the process. As the Man Utd holding midfielder went sprawling to the turf, the Croatian stayed on his feet, turned his body around and shot the ball past Van Der Saar from a very acute angle.
The Bayern celebration was relatively muted and Van Gaal did not even react as they still had the business of scoring another goal to bring the aggregate to par.
Minutes into the second half, Rooney aggravated his ankle injury and was forced off. The match turned against Man Utd in the 49th minute as Rafael fouled Ribery. Nicola Rizzoli was immediately swamped by a group of protesting Bayern players led by Ribery. It took some seconds but he fished out a yellow card, Rafael’ second having fouled Mark Van Bommel earlier. It was curtains for the Brazilian.
The expulsion proved critical because Arjen Robben teed up for an absolute unbelievable volley from a Ribery corner and the ball flew past Van Der Saar into the far corner. A Rafael on the line might have saved the goal.
The right back position proved to be the Achilles heel for Man Utd as in the first leg, Ribery kept getting the better of Gary Neville. This time it was Rafael’s inexperience making them pay.
The match ended with Utd winning 3-2 but with the aggregate tied 4-4, it was Bayern’s better away goal record that saw them through. A great comeback just when it looked like Man Utd was going to make it a long night for them.
The match was an engrossing affair. All the goals had a stunning quality to them. Seemingly manufactured out of thin air. However, it took Sir Alex to bring us back to the classier side of the game.
“He’s (Rafael) a young boy and showed inexperience, but they got him sent off. They all rushed towards the referee. Typical Germans. You can’t dispute that,” said Ferguson.
Nice touch. What next? The Spanish Inquisition?