United buckle under Bayern strain
Wednesday, 7 April 2010
Manchester United FC 3-2 FC Bayern München
(agg: 4-4, Bayern win on away goals)
A magnificent volley from Arjen Robben capped a stunning Bayern recovery with the home side having taken a 3-0 lead before Rafael's dismissal.
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FC Bayern München fought back from three goals down on the night to oust Manchester United FC from the UEFA Champions League on away goals.
On a pulsating evening, United stormed into a three-goal lead through Darron Gibson and a Nani double. Yet Ivica Olić's goal just before the break raised Bayern hopes and after Rafael's 50th-minute dismissal, the Bundesliga leaders capitalised on the extra man thanks to a stunning Arjen Robben volley 16 minutes from time.
It was a repeat of the Dutchman's decisive goal in the identical away-goals win against ACF Fiorentina in the last 16 and means Bayern can look forward to their first semi-final since 2001, the year of their last European crown when they also beat United at this stage.
The home fans had a lift before kick-off with the news that Wayne Rooney would be starting, just days after Sir Alex Ferguson had said he faced "two to three weeks" out with the ankle injury sustained in the first leg.
United then made a dream start with a third-minute goal involving two other surprise names on the team sheet. Rafael, in for Gary Neville, dispossessed Franck Ribéry and played the ball to Rooney, who laid it on to Gibson. The Northern Irishman, making only his second start of 2010, side-footed a low shot inside the near post from the edge of the box for his first UEFA Champions League goal.
By the seventh minute United were two up. Antonio Valencia teased Holger Badstuber out on the right before driving in a low cross that Nani, ghosting beyond the Bayern back line, turned in with a cute flick of his heel. Michael Carrick, with a shot, and Rooney, a header, then went close with Bayern struggling to live with the pace of United's play, even with Rooney now hobbling. They duly made it 3-0 as Valencia broke down the right and crossed for Nani to drive the ball high into the net.
Two minutes later, however, Bayern pulled a goal back through Olić, their first-leg matchwinner. Latching onto Thomas Müller's flicked header, the Croatian shrugged aside Michael Carrick and beat Edwin van der Sar from a tight angle. Louis van Gaal sent on Mario Gómez for Müller at the interval and within minutes Bayern found themselves with a man advantage when Rafael collected a second yellow for pulling back Ribéry.
With Rooney making way for John O'Shea, Bayern pressed for a second and Van der Sar punched clear a Ribéry drive just before the hour before Gómez skimmed the crossbar with a header. It was not all one-way traffic, not with United's counterattacking threat – twice Butt saved well from Nani, while Carrick and Gibson spurned half-chances.
With 16 minutes remaining, though, Robben broke United's resistance by levelling the aggregate scores at 4-4. Ribéry's corner found him on the edge of the box and the Dutchman drove the ball on the volley across a helpless Van der Sar and into the far corner. For United, the dream of a third successive final was over.