Louis van Gaal savoured an "incredible" comeback after FC Bayern München recovered the tie from 3-0 down at Manchester United FC while Sir Alex Ferguson showed pride in defeat.
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Louis van Gaal was left to reflect on an "incredible" comeback after FC Bayern München recovered from 3-0 down at Old Trafford to eliminate Manchester United FC on away goals in a 4-4 aggregate draw. Both the Bayern coach and his opposite number saw the 50th-minute dismissal of United right-back Rafael as a defining moment, although Sir Alex Ferguson was still proud of his side in defeat.
Louis van Gaal, Bayern coach
Before the game I saw Sir Alex Ferguson's lineup and knew that he had made a choice for aggression. So I said to my players that we also need aggression but to play with control at the same time. For the first 20 minutes we showed no aggression and Manchester United played us off the pitch. After that we got into it and ended the half with a beautiful, wonderful goal from Ivica Olić.
At half-time I was confident that we could get back into the game, score in the second half and get the result. The dismissal was the key to the game, and we played with patience and confidence after that. To come back from 3-0 down is incredible.
We shall never know [if United would have won with 11 men] because this game will not be played again. It's easy to say that after the match. I told my players before the Schalke match that they needed to play with aggression and control but Hamit Altıntop didn't show that and that's why he was sent off – and why their young player was sent off today.
I'd hoped to play Bordeaux next – after two defeats in the group stage I wanted revenge. I saw Lyon against Real Madrid and they were well-organised and a difficult team to beat but I've only been concerned with Manchester United these last two weeks. We have Leverkusen next and then we can think about Lyon.
Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United manager
It's hard to digest something like that. On one hand we can say that we threw it away, on another we were very unlucky. Instead of being four or five goals up at half-time, they scored a crucial goal and were back in it. The sending-off was disappointing. He's a young player and inexperienced and sometimes that shows itself, but he had a marvellous performance and it's a tragedy for him.
With ten men, given the magnitude of the match, it was very difficult. They only had one chance, a header from Gómez. Of course it was a fantastic strike from Robben but we had no one on the edge of the box because Nani had been pushed up front.
We didn't play particularly well at Bayern last week, but we created four good chances and they scored with a deflected free-kick and [again] in injury time. You have to say that was a bit lucky. Luck's part of the game and you have to accept it; there have been many occasions when we've had it but they had it in this tie. Tonight we were the better team, no question, and were fantastic before the sending-off.
English teams are expected to get to the semi-finals as we have been doing recently but I still think it's the best league in Europe. We've lost three games on the trot, are out of the European Cup, but we now have to win our next five [league] games – we have to go for it.