Defender Martín Demichelis put FC Bayern München's UEFA Champions League quarter-final triumph over Manchester United FC down to the "spectacular" duo of Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben.
Robben added to his collection of eye-catching goals for treble-chasing Bayern with their decisive second at Old Trafford, meeting Ribéry's corner with a superb volley that swept the ball past fellow Dutch international Edwin van der Sar. For Bayern, who had trailed 3-0 late in the first half, that goal spelt salvation – making it 3-2 on the night and giving them the away-goals advantage after a 2-1 first-leg win in Munich.
Demichelis told UEFA.com: "It was tremendous vision from Franck Ribéry, who played the perfect ball across, and Arjen's execution was fantastic. Both Franck and Arjen are spectacular players who can win a game at any moment.
"We started badly against a team who got into a 3-0 lead very quickly so we gave ourselves a lot of work to do. The important thing was the team never gave up. Incredibly, against a team playing at their home stadium, we managed to come back from three down."
When Bayern's net bulged a third time in the 41st minute, through Nani's second of the game, there was a feeling Old Trafford might witness a reprise of the night United beat AS Roma 7-1 in the 2006/07 quarter-finals. Sir Alex Ferguson's side had struck twice inside seven minutes through Darron Gibson and Nani, and Bayern were struggling to cope with the hosts' high tempo.
Yet, in the 43rd minute, Ivica Olić threw the Bundesliga club a lifeline. Just as with his injury-time first-leg winner, the forward showed impeccable timing as he steered a shot across Van der Sar and inside the far post. "The goal before half-time was very important, it seemed to put them on edge," Argentinian international Demichelis said.
Another twist, Rafael's dismissal five minutes after the restart, offered Bayern further encouragement. However, their captain, Mark van Bommel, maintained that the tie was far from a foregone conclusion: "We didn't play well in the first half but we got that goal just before half-time.
"The goal was very important and after the red card we played very well as it's not always easy to play against ten men. We kept playing, had Franck Ribéry on the left side and Robben wide on the right and that was really good."
Louis van Gaal's charges can now look forward to their first UEFA Champions League semi-final since 2001, when they also overcame United in the last eight en route to lifting the trophy.
But Van Bommel, who will miss the first leg against Olympique Lyonnais on 21 April through suspension, warned: "We have to be focused. We have a big league game against Leverkusen [on Saturday] and are trying to be [Bundesliga] champions. We're in the final of the German Cup and the semi-final of the Champions League. We play the first leg at home, which isn't an advantage, but you never know."
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