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Thursday, July 7, 2022

Bayern fight back to stun Man Utd

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Ivica Olic hit an injury-time winner to give Bayern Munich the advantage after the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final with Manchester United.

United took the lead after only 66 seconds when Wayne Rooney volleyed in six yards out from Nani’s free-kick.

But Franck Ribery’s deflected free-kick set up a dramatic finale, rounded off by Olic’s cool run and finish after a defensive error by Patrice Evra.

United’s misery was made complete when Rooney limped off with an ankle injury.

The England striker appeared in severe pain after turning over on his right leg in the build-up to Bayern’s winner.

United will hope the injury is not too serious, as they face a crucial Premier League match against Chelsea on Saturday as well as the return match with Bayern next week.

It had started so well for United – and Rooney – but the visitors allowed Bayern to take control of a tie which is delicately balanced ahead of the second leg at Old Trafford on 7 April.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side will comfort themselves in the knowledge that they have an away goal.

But the defeat marked their first in 16 unbeaten European away matches and leaves them with plenty to do, particularly should Rooney be missing in a week’s time and if Bayern are boosted by the return of winger Arjen Robben after a calf problem.

Much of the talk had centred on that pair before the game, but while Robben had to watch from the stands due to injury, Rooney took no time at all to make his mark on the tie.

With barely more than a minute on the clock, Nani’s free-kick from the right looped off the head of Mark van Bommel and, as Martin Demichelis slipped in the box, Rooney found space to volley home left-footed.

It was exactly the start United boss Ferguson wanted, especially after he had admitted beforehand that he would take a goal over a clean sheet from the tie in Germany.

It did not, however, prompt a United procession as some might have expected. Instead, with United dropping deeper as the match went on in an attempt to play on the counter, Bayern slowly got a foothold in the game and began to utilise the weapons at their disposal.

Most notably, Ribery began to torment right-back Gary Neville. It was he who forced the first save of the tie from Edwin van der Sar with a deflected 18-yard effort, and the Frenchman who then twice caused panic in the home defence in quick succession.

First, his delicious ball over the top was miscontrolled by Hamit Altintop when he had just the keeper to beat, and then his cross was only half-cleared by Van der Sar, Olic somehow allowing Altintop’s rebound shot to slip under his foot with the goal gaping.

At the other end, Rooney and Nani were causing plenty of problems of their own, the latter pulling a shot wide and then hitting the bar with a misplaced cross, before Rooney failed to make the most of a fine Darren Fletcher cross, his shot beaten away by Hans-Jorg Butt.

Still, Ferguson cut a clearly frustrated figure on the touchlines – and if United fans wondered why they had their answer when Bayern upped the pace again in the second half.

Olic, Thomas Muller and Mark van Bommel all brought Van der Sar into action with decent efforts, while a mazy dribble from Altintop was almost topped by a cracking finish only for the Dutchman to save.

In response, Ferguson replaced Michael Carrick and the ineffective Ji-Sung Park with Dimitar Berbatov and Antonio Valencia, but still the Bayern chances came – Olic’s toe-poke saved at his near post by Van der Sar and then, ultimately, came their equaliser.

Neville gave away the free-kick with a needless handball, and Ribery punished the veteran’s lapse in concentration to the full extent when his tame free-kick made its way through the wall and in via a deflection off Rooney.

United responded briefly and almost pulled themselves back in front completely against the run of play when Nemanja Vidic rattled the crossbar with a bullet header from Ryan Giggs corner.

But still they looked vulnerable at the back and, in a finale reminiscent of that in 1999 when United came from a goal down in injury time to beat Bayern to the Champions League trophy at the Nou Camp, the hosts had saved their most dramatic moment until the last.

Evra was the guilty party, dallying on the ball and allowing Olic to steal in, drive into the box, and clip past Van der Sar to send the home fans into raptures.

With Bayern players celebrating, meanwhile, Rooney was being helped from the field.

United can ill afford to lose Rooney at this vital stage of the season – and England coach Fabio Capello will also be concerned with the World Cup just over two months away.

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