A 0-0 draw ensured that Manchester United FC and FC Bayern München both progressed on Wednesday.
Manchester United FC 0-0 FC Bayern München
A 0-0 draw at Old Trafford on Wednesday ensured that both Manchester United FC and FC Bayern München will progress to the next stage of the UEFA Champions League.
With FC Nantes Atlantique and Boavista FC drawing 1-1 at the Beaujoire stadium, both United and Bayern are now guaranteed a place in the quarter-finals, although which of the two sides will take top spot in Group A will only be decided after the last round of matches.
While there was joy for both sides at the final whistle, there was little for supporters to get excited about as the two famous rivals met in Manchester. While Bayern did superbly to keep the home side at bay, they could not find the touch going forward to unsettle their opponents.
The pattern of the game had been dictated almost from the opening whistle with Bayern defending an imaginary line just inside their own half and denying United the opportunity to make space and feed strikers Ruud van Nistelrooij and Ole Gunnar Solskjær.
Indeed, defender Robert Kovac was one of the unsung heroes of the Bayern performance as he kept the dangerous Van Nistelrooij under close supervision - it was a sign of the Dutchman's frustration at being denied space that he was given a yellow card for a late challenge on Thomas Linke after 43 minutes.
Giggs finds inspiration
David Beckham was on equally subdued form for United and it was left for Welsh international Ryan Giggs to lead the line for Sir Alex Ferguson's side. The winger created United's best chance of the first half as he jinked past three defenders and struck the ball towards goal but his low drive flashed across Bayern goalkeeper Oliver Kahn and wide.
Pizarro on target
Bayern provided the game's first shot on target 32 minutes as Claudio Pizarro directed Kahn's long clearance towards goal, but Fabien Barthez had little trouble in smothering the ball.
The second half saw United in more dangerous form and Giggs produced the best shot of the game three minutes into the second period. He drove the ball from the edge of the penalty area but Kahn was equal to it, producing a superb save to glance the ball wide of his left-hand post.
The home side continued to pressure but there were a few chances at the other end. Barthez denied Pizarro after 61 minutes from an Effenberg corner and moments later the goalkeeper was called into action to smother Jens Jeremies's long-range shot.
Van Nistelrooij denied
Three minutes later, United missed what was to be the final genuine chance of the game as Beckham released Van Nistelrooij. Despite having two chances to beat Kahn after his initial shot ricocheted back to him off the goalkeeper, United's leading marksman could not break the deadlock.
As time ticked down both sides seemed to gradually accept that there was nothing to separate them. A number of substitutions threatened to bring the game to life, but in the end neither side could find the moment of inspiration to settle the game.
The final Group A games, which will be played next Tuesday, will now decide which team ends up at the top of the table. United travel to Boavista on Matchday Twelve while Bayern host Nantes.