Robben’s wonder strike breaks United’s hearts



Old Trafford rocked to the sound of a storming Wayne Rooney-inspired start as Darron Gibson’s early strike, followed by Nani’s flicked goal handed Manchester United the perfect platform. But a third inside the first half only precipitated Bayern Munich’s stunning comeback as Louis van Gaal’s Germans knocked United out of the Champions League.

Ferguson, having hoodwinked the world’s media just 24 hours earlier, started Rooney eight days after the striker’s ankle injury in the Allianz Arena.

It inspired the home side and United was ahead inside three minutes, with Rooney’s layoff finding Gibson for the Irishman to lash home in typical style. Gibson has not always impressed this season but packs a mighty punch when shooting from range.

The early strike a week ago sent Ferguson’s side into its shell. Not this time with a United side packed with energy and endeavor instructed to close Bayern down at every turn.

Within moments Ferguson’s side was two goals to the good, with the live-wire Antonio Valencia picking out Nani at the near post to raise Old Trafford’s roof. Nani’s flick through his legs expertly delivered.

But if Rooney’s return brought additional belief to the United cause then the Scouser had hearts in mouths when limping heavily just 20 minutes into the tie. While the forward indicated his willingness to continue, Rooney’s movement was permanently limited.

United paid little attention with the focus on putting the visitors to the sword early. First Gibson’s strike dipped just over and then Rafael led a lightning quick break in which the Brazilian full-back flashed a shot inches wide.

It mattered not with the home side adding a third from Nani following another incisive Valenica break down the right. The winger’s shot, lashed in off the bar, met with delight in the stands.

Subdued to this point, Bayern responded at last with Ivica Olic forcing a save from Edwin van der Sar at the Croatian’s feet. Better followed from the striker, a late goalscorer in Munich, who silenced the crowd by firing low past the Dutchman. Carrick’s lightweight defensive effort punished heavily.

Then the turning point as Rafael, booked early for a foul on Martin Demichelis, received a second yellow for a naïve tug on Ribéry moments into the second half. It was just the Brazilian’s second foul of the match but this time under the official’s nose with Bayern players urging the inevitable card.

Rooney’s was the sacrifice to the cause, with the England striker still hobbling despite the half-time break and pulled off for the returning John O’Shea. United a man light and without a recognizable striker invited the Germans to come forward with waves of attack.

But Nani and then Gibson should have added a fourth in quick succession. Nani’s angled shot and then Gibson’s side-footer blocked by Hans Jorg Butt in the Bayern net.

The dénouement. Arjen Robben, the man United tried unsuccessfully to sign in 2004, broke United’s hearts with a stunning goal on the volley just as the home side seemed to have the upper-hand.

“He’s [Rafael] a young boy, inexperienced, but they got him sent off. They all rushed towards the referee. Typical Germans,” added Ferguson in the heat of the aftermath.

“You can’t dispute that. The key issues were the goal before half-time and then the boy getting sent off, but it’s still taken an exceptional goal to win the tie.

“I think we’ve done well, performed well. It was a great performance. We were very unlucky.”

Perhaps so but it is remiss to hide behind Robben’s wonder-strike – a red herring with United’s deficiencies this season exposed by 12 defeats in all competitions.

In truth Ferguson’s side has gone backwards, with injuries and refereeing decisions less important than finding a midfield that can supply a base for the outstanding talents Rooney possesses.

“I don’t think it’s serious. It’s just the tissue. I’m sure he’ll be OK for the following week,” added the Scot of Rooney’s injury.

Should it not Ferguson’s gamble will have backfired hugely, with just five games to go in the Premier League.

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  • http://twitter.com/nyxpru nicorn7

    The referee won the match for the Germans. There was no way in hell they could have beaten us 11 on 11. Ribery was hassled out of the game even after Rafael (who will become a great Red given time) was harshly sent off.

    Robben’ strike was wonderous but he wouldn’t have gotten a sniff if we weren’t a man down.

    The refereeing over the past few weeks has been dismal. FIFA needs to face facts and get a video replay ref / official for the big calls.

    Here’s hoping the refereeing is better this weekend.

  • David Finnegan

    We can moan about referees all we like. The fact is they were two bookable offences and we would have done the same if the rolls were reversed.
    hiding behind refereeing decisions and the like is to ignore the real problem.
    Midfield.
    Michael Carrick is just not good enough. muscled out of the way far yoo easily for the first goal. The 2nd goal the ball came to Carrick in the centre circle, as usual he needed 27 touches to get it under control, by which time Bayern had won it back. from there Bayern won a corner and Robben scored. Now, who was the closest player to Robben??? Carrick, He started to charge out & then proceeded to get himself out of the way of the ball with such a cowardly dive he ought to be ashamed.

  • Mac

    I don’t think Carrick is as bad as some make out although I cannot argue with the fact that he was poor last night, at fault for the first goal and closest to the unmarked Robben for the second. I personally thought we should have made the double substitution when O’Shea came on, I’d have got Berbatov on for Carrick then. I recall Nani breaking into there box but had no options to square the ball to, not another red shirt in the Bayern half never mind the box. Had we had a striker on the pitch that would surely have been our 4th and decisive goal. But hey, we’re all great in hindsight aren’t we? Gutted!!

  • Bill

    One saving grace is that we now have no distractions in our pursuit for no 19, whereas Chelsea are still in the FA Cup. If we win out then we will win the league as Chelsea will probably draw at least one game. We do like to make things hard for ourselves!

  • Real Red

    I bet it makes Pratini happy.
    Having a frog leading a bunch of Krauts into a semi against a frog side.
    And not one English team in sight.

    Maybe now the little worm will get off our backs for a while.

    Poor consolation for a night when a dream of a first half hour turned into a nightmare.

    One thing for sure.
    Kiko or even Ole Gunnar, at his age, wud have both made better subs last nite than Berba.
    So much natural ability, yes.
    But what’s the point if most of the time you can’t be bothered to make the effort to use it.
    I mean if you employed the most skilled engineer, on the planet, in your manufacturing company and yet he just sat around in the cafe most of day you’d sack him right ?

    I am sorry but after 50 years of loyalty and almost always giving benefit of doubt to any Red, my patience is really running out on this one

    • pez

      agreed

  • Robbo

    Carrick is a player who can play when your on top, if not he brings nothing. That challenge for the first goal pathetic he should be given to Burnley on a free for that alone.