A disappointed Ji-Sung Park told UEFA.com that Manchester United FC were still confident of reaching the UEFA Champions League semi-finals despite slipping to a dramatic first-leg defeat at FC Bayern München.
The English Premier League leaders appeared on course to maintain their flawless away record in this season's competition when Wayne Rooney registered his 18th goal in 13 matches for United with barely a minute on the clock at the Fußball Arena München.
There were shades of the memorable 1998/99 UEFA Champions League final this time, though, with the boot on the other foot, as first Franck Ribéry equalised on 77 minutes before Ivica Olić pounced deep into added time to leave Bayern in the box seat prior to next Wednesday's second leg at Old Trafford.
"We're disappointed because we were leading but ended up losing. The early goal was good for us but we weren't able to build on it and get the result here. But we have our chance to go through at Old Trafford," said Park.
Rooney's opener had initially drawn the sting of Bayern and the vociferous home support, but the hosts recovered from the early blow to trouble United with Ribéry particularly inventive. The Frenchman orchestrated a number of promising Bayern moves while United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar was forced into a clutch of excellent stops to keep the four-time European champions at bay.
"We did well defensively, but we conceded a goal from a free-kick, and then for the second there was a bit of miscommunication," said Park, who saw Ribéry's set-piece ricochet off Rooney to send the ball spinning past a wrong-footed Van der Sar before hesitancy in the United rearguard gave Olić the opportunity to strike with seconds left. "That was a mistake, but we can overcome that and get through at Old Trafford."
Bayern will be almost as confident after they belied their poor recent domestic form to earn a narrow advantage. Louis van Gaal's men had won just two of their previous six competitive fixtures, and the man who had inspired those triumphs, Arjen Robben, missed out against United with a calf injury.
Add to that the suspension of Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Bayern's win appears all the more eye-opening. Park, though, was not surprised by their dogged display. "We expected them to play like that. They have an experienced team, and the club has a proud history," said the South Korean international midfielder. "They did well tonight, but the situation will be different at Old Trafford. We're waiting for them to come there."
©UEFA.com 1998-2013. All rights reserved.