[Champions League] Manchester United 1-1 Bayern Munich
ManUtd: Nemanja Vidic (58)
Bayern: Bastian Schweinsteiger (66)
Manchester United will travel to Germany with plenty of hope of reaching the Champions League semi-finals after a spirited 1-1 draw with holders Bayern Munich at Old Trafford.
Nemanja Vidic broke the deadlock to set the stadium alight before Bastian Schweinsteiger, who was sent off for a second bookable offence late on, hit a superbly-taken leveller to reward the Germans for an authoritative display.
Danny Welbeck lashed the ball into the net from the Reds’ first attack, though his effort was ruled out, apparently for a high boot from the striker. Although Bayern dominated possession, David De Gea’s first save did not come until past the half-hour mark when he dived to claw away an Arjen Robben effort.
David Moyes’ men responded with Welbeck firing an ambitious shot at Manuel Neuer and Wayne Rooney having an effort blocked. After Alex Büttner escaped a handball shout, Welbeck spurned the first half’s clearest opening in a one-on-one with Neuer. A goal did arrive 13 minutes after the break. Rooney swung over a corner from the left and Vidic steered a cute header inside Neuer's left-hand post after being afforded too much room in the crowded box.
The equaliser was largely unstoppable as Mario Mandzukic headed down to Schweinsteiger, who smacked a rising drive into the roof of the net. After Valencia had a nervous wait to see if a sliding challenge would produce a second yellow, Robben twice went close and Schweinsteiger saw red for a tackle on Rooney. In the end, it wasn't pretty, but United matched the favourites for the competition with a whole-hearted performance.
The Match: Reds show pride
The match Most people felt Manchester United would be embarrassed by the reigning Champions League holders and a side acknowledged to be the best in Europe. Yet the Reds should never be written off and a display of pride and passion lifted the Old Trafford crowd. Granted, Bayern had plenty of the ball, posting 70 per cent possession, but United had the best chance of the first half when Danny Welbeck was denied by Manuel Neuer when clean through. Nemanja Vidic's header may have been cancelled out by Bastian Schweinsteiger, who was sent off in the closing stages, but David Moyes' men are still very much in the tie ahead of the journey to Bavaria next week.
The goals Wayne Rooney's corner found Vidic in space and the skipper guided a perfect headed finish wide of Neuer to spark jubilant scenes around the ground. Schweinsteiger then latched onto Mario Mandzukic's knock-down to bury a rising shot beyond David De Gea to respond with a crucial equaliser and away goal. Both efforts were beautifully simple in their execution.
Star man Three of United's back four were nominated for the Man of the Match award by MUTV pundits Danny Higginbotham and Ron Atkinson. Alex Büttner, Nemanja Vidic and Phil Jones put their bodies on the line and performed with real aggression and commitment throughout.
Sub-plot Matches with Bayern will always evoke special memories of the dramatic 1999 final in Barcelona but the Germans have held the upper hand since that incredible night. United were bigger odds to win at home with the bookmakers than anybody could remember, with many people writing off the chances of progression as soon as the draw was made.
The opposition Pep Guardiola's classy side have already wrapped up another Bundesliga title and are tipped to become the first club to retain the Champions League. The Spaniard has implemented a possession game to match the one he employed at Barcelona and their financial muscle has proved crucial in the transfer market, with an awe-inspiring collection of midfield players at the coach's disposal. With noisy backing throughout, Bayern are a super-club in every sense of the word.
Move of the match United found it hard to slice through the defence with flowing moves, but Rooney did well to get his head to a Giggs centre with Welbeck collecting the ball and, despite slipping, feeding it wide to Valencia. The winger tried his luck from a difficult angle but the ball deflected out for a corner.
In the stands Old Trafford saluted a brave performance from a team that has taken criticism this term from all quarters in the media. A mosaic before the game was well received and, although Bayern's visiting fans were vociferous, they were more than matched by the home support.
MATCH ACTION PHOTOS