Posted on Wednesday, 31st March 2010 by Jamie Allen
It was a late double blow for United as Ivica Olic scored an injury time winner for Bayern Munich which brought back famous memories of the 1999 final – in reverse. To make things worse for United, star striker Wayne Rooney limped off towards the end with suspected ankle ligament damage which would be a huge blow to both club and country.
Rooney had given United an early lead with his first touch of the game only for a deflected Frank Ribery free kick and then a last gasp Olic winner to drastically change a good night in Munich to a bad one – Rooney’s injury rubbing salt into the wounds of all United and England fans.
United will hope the injury isn’t too serious with two huge matches on the horizon – Chelsea on Saturday and then the return leg with Bayern on Wednesday week.
On his return to the United team, Rooney took no time at all in making his mark. After just 64 seconds, a Nani free kick from the right, after a needless Demichelis foul was deflected into the path of Rooney who expertly volleyed home giving United that priceless away goal.
They then had chances to double their lead in the shape of the ever improving Nani who shot just wide and then curled a cross which hit the top of the bar and bounced away.
However, since the rapid-fire start, it was Bayern who began to bomb forward in search of an equaliser. It seemed like United had scored too early, (which in turn showed they had done). The visitors became increasingly sloppy in their play. Park, Carrick and Scholes all guilty of giving the ball away cheaply, allowing Bayern to apply pressure.
Olic missed a glorious opportunity to equalise as he missed what looked like a simple tap in from 3 yards. Ribery began running at veteran defender Gary Neville, causing problems in the process. His pace and trickery was at times too much for the United defence. He clipped a delicate chip over Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra only for Hamit Altintop to miss control and spurn another great opportunity.
At the other end Fletcher had broken away from Lahm and aimed a pin point cross to Rooney’s feet who only managed to find Butt standing in his way of a second.
Bayern began to pile forward and Ribery, Olic, Muller and Van Bommel all brought saves out of the excellent Edwin Van Der Sar. The frustrated Ferguson realised United needed to take control of the game. He replaced Carrick with Valencia and the unusually ineffective Park with Berbatov. However, un-Fergie like he got it wrong – still the Bayern chances came. An Olic shot and a mazy run from Hamit Altintop produced more good saves from United’s number one.
Bayern could sense an equaliser and it came via a piece of luck on 77 minutes. A needless Gary Neville handball gave Ribery the chance from 25 yards. His free kick deflected in off the unfortunate Rooney to tie the game up.
United were instantly close to a reply. Substitute Ryan Giggs’ corner was thumped onto the crossbar by no nonsense Nemanja Vidic – a lucky escape for Bayern.
They were then to make that slice of luck count. It was written in the stars. There were recollections of that famous night in Barcelona back in 1999 when Fergie’s men snatched the trophy from the palms of Munich in the last seconds. However this time, it was role reversal.
In the final minute of time added on, Patrice Evra was caught dallying on the ball in the area which allowed Ivica Olic to snatch the ball off him and place it calmly past Van Der Sar to snatch the crucial winner and the headlines.
As Bayern celebrated, Rooney was hobbling off the pitch with only one boot on, bringing back terrible memories of his Euro 2004 metatarsal injury.
In such a vital World Cup year, United and England can ill afford to lose such a player. It doesn’t look good for Rooney who left the ground on crutches, but post match Sir Alex Ferguson said:
“He’s obviously hurt his ankle. It’s too early to say [but] I don’t think it’s terribly serious.”
It was a poor performance from United, who had lost for the first time away from home in Europe since that crushing 3 0 defeat to Ac Milan back 2007. However, with United heading home with the vital away goal and Bayern leading on the night, the tie is now delicately balanced going into the crucial second leg at Old Trafford – be it with or without Wayne Rooney.