There were twists and turns aplenty as Bayern Munich made their way through to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League at the expense of Manchester United, the Bundesliga giants going down 3-2 at Old Trafford but advancing on away goals after last week’s 2-1 home success.
Louis van Gaal’s side will now face Lyon in the last four as the Rhone outfit also progressed despite a second-leg reverse, losing 1-0 at Bordeaux in the wake of a 3-1 triumph over the French champions last time out.
The second semi-final will be contested between Inter Milan and Barcelona, with no English club present in the final quartet for the first time since 2003.
Manchester United 3-2 Bayern Munich (4-4 on aggregate, Bayern win on away goals)
Goals: Darron Gibson 3, Nani 7, 41; Ivica Olic 43, Arjen Robben 74
Bordeaux 1-0 Lyon (Lyon win 3-2 on aggregate)
Goal: Marouane Chamakh 45
Goal of the night
Manchester United-Bayern Munich (Nani, 41)
Brazilian full-back Rafael picked out Antonio Valencia with a quick throw-in and, after dinking the ball past Martin Demichelis with a sublime piece of skill, the Ecuadorian winger fired a low ball into the area that Wayne Rooney opted not to attack. With the Bayern defence utterly bamboozled, Nani arrived at the far post and found the net with a ferocious right-footed effort.
The key moments
The evening kicked off with an early surprise at Old Trafford, where Rooney was announced among the United starters just six days after suffering a seemingly serious ankle injury in the first leg. Disappointed by the performance of his charges in Saturday’s 2-1 home loss to Chelsea, Red Devils manager Sir Alex Ferguson also made waves by leaving Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Dimitar Berbatov on the bench and both Ji-Sung Park and Gary Neville in the stands. It was therefore with a rejigged first XI that United took to the field and the changes bore fruit with barely three minutes gone. Rafael broke down the right before finding Rooney, who freed Gibson with a pinpoint pass and watched as his young Irish team-mate blasted beyond Hans-Jorg Butt from outside the area. Four minutes later, Valencia fired in a low cross for Nani to convert via an outrageous flick with his trailing leg. Butt was left helpless and Van Gaal stood stunned on the touchline as Old Trafford roared with delight. Bayern had yet to have their say however.
With both teams knowing each other inside out, Bordeaux and Lyon contested a tight encounter at the Stade Chaban-Delmas, where set-pieces frequently stalled the flow of the action. Galvanised by the experience of their coach, Laurent Blanc, Bordeaux refused to rush into the match and instead built pressure slowly, coming close when an Alou Diarra shot from 35 metres out crashed against the crossbar a minute shy of the interval. The hosts still had time to take the lead before the break, though, and it was Marouane Chamakh who put them ahead from a Benoit Tremoulinas centre, which had already been given a touch on its way by Jaroslav Plasil. Blanc’s men carved out more promising openings after the restart but were unable to trouble Hugo Lloris, meaning the Lyon No1 and his colleagues met the final whistle able to celebrate their first ever semi-final berth.
Euphoric at 3-0 up, United were soon found guilty of losing focus, with Ivica Olic quick to punish them at the back. The instinctive predator held off Michael Carrick to collect Thomas Muller’s headed ball into the area and followed up with a shot across Edwin van der Sar that finished up inside the far post from the acutest of angles. That ratcheted up the suspense at Old Trafford and the home side were hit again when Rafael, 19, picked up his second yellow card of the night. With 55 minutes gone, Rooney also withdrew from the game, having contributed all he could. United immediately struggled without their talisman, and both Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery began finding even more space on the flanks as Sir Alex’s troops retreated deeper and deeper. A quarter of an hour from the end, the tie finally swung in the visitors’ favour following a Ribery corner directed towards the edge of the area, where Robben unleashed a superb left-footed volley that sped beyond Van der Sar’s reach and low into the corner. Sent reeling by that blow, the hosts had nothing left to give.
FIFA World Cup™ contenders
Rooney is England’s closest equivalent to Barcelona star Lionel Messi, with his very presence on the pitch boosting team-mates and tying up at least one or two worried defenders. England are not the same side without Rooney in their ranks and nor are United, as the Premier League champions found to their cost this evening. That said, the Red Devils nonetheless boast another undeniable talent in Nani, and the Portuguese international displayed both technique and finishing prowess to suggest he could well combine to devastating effect with Cristiano Ronaldo this summer. The duel between Robben and Patrice Evra also prompted thoughts about South Africa, and it was the Dutch international who won that contest, impressing just as Wesley Sneijder had for Inter 24 hours earlier. For his part, Lyon’s Lloris showed once again that he is France’s most talented goalkeeper as he played a central role in keeping Bordeaux at bay.
Inter Milan-Barcelona (20 and 28 April)
Bayern Munich-Lyon (21 and 27 April)
Have your say
Following on from their difficult start to the campaign, can Bayern Munich now go all the way?