Champions League – Rooney injury scare as United slip to defeat
An injury time winner from Ivica Olic handed the advantage to Bayern Munich in their Champions League quarter-final against Manchester United after a 2-1 victory at the Allianz Arena.
Wayne Rooney, who later hobbled off the pitch, had put United ahead after just 64 seconds but the visitors could not hold onto their lead as Franck Ribery deservedly levelled with a heavily deflected free-kick on 77 minutes.
Intense Bayern pressure then told as Olic swooped in time added-on to put a real dent in United’s hopes of reaching a fourth consecutive semi-final in the competition.
To make matters worse for Alex Ferguson’s side, Rooney had to be helped to the touchline with an apparent ankle injury as the full-time whistle sounded, sparking fears over his fitness for next weekend’s top-of-the-table clash with Chelsea.
Before the game, a repeat of the 1999 final, Alex Ferguson said he would take a goal over a clean sheet; for the majority of the game he had both. But the evening ended in the worst possible fashion as two goals in 13 minutes went some way to exorcising any demons that remained in the Bayern camp following that famous night in Barcelona.
Bayern were deprived of their best player, Arjen Robben, who did not even make the bench due to his groin injury; though even if the Dutchman had been on the field, he would not have had a chance to touch the ball before United opened the scoring with just a minute and four seconds on the clock.
Straight from the kick-off Nani won a free-kick near the corner flag, which he took himself. His cross took a deflection on its way into the box, the ball looping towards Rooney, who coolly volleyed home after a disastrous slip by Martin Demichelis had left him in acres of space.
The goal was the England striker’s 34th of the season, and he should have added to that tally at the end of an open and entertaining first half which saw excellent chances go begging at both ends.
Demichelis, sporting a mask to protect a facial injury, was at fault again on 39 minutes when he allowed Darren Fletcher‘s cross to evade him and fall to Rooney, whose first touch set him up perfectly for a shot on goal. But number 35 of the season was not forthcoming and his effort was well blocked.
At the other end, Olic wasted a golden opportunity on 28 minutes to cancel out Rooney’s opener, but the Croatian striker somehow conspired to miss the ball completely when Hamit Altintop‘s mis-hit shot from Edwin van der Sar‘s punched clearance found him all alone in the six yard box.
It was a real let-off for United, who struggled to build on their early advantage as Bayern responded well to that early hammer blow.
Ribery, reportedly a target for United last summer and the focus of Bayern’s creativity in the absence of Robben, tested van der Sar on 20 minutes before Danijel Pranjic did likewise on 34 minutes.
Van der Sar also proved to be a central figure in proceedings after the break as Bayern emerged from the dressing room in far more concentrated mood.
The United keeper had to be at his best seconds after the restart to repel an Olic strike from a tight angle before Thomas Mueller’s deflected effort and a Daniel van Buyten shot from distance tested him again.
Bayern went on to enjoy the majority of possession during the second half, fashioning further scoring opportunities which were spurned by Altintop, Mark van Bommel and Olic again before their superiority was rewarded with the equaliser.
There was an element of fortune to it – Ribery’s free-kick took a hefty deflection off Rooney in the United wall – but it was no more than Bayern deserved.
That said, United still could have grabbed a winner but Nemanja Vidic saw his thumping header rattle off the crossbar on 83 minutes.
Vidic was then at fault as substitute Mario Gomez found his way through, only to see his shot palmed around the corner.
But United failed to get away with another lapse as Patrice Evra was caught napping by Olic in the third minute of injury time. He shot home confidently as United conceded a second goal, and in doing so fell to their first away defeat in the Champions League for 16 games.
Mike Hytner / Eurosport