Manchester United bowed out from the grandest stage of European football after a 3-1 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg, going down 4-2 on aggregate. Moyes’ masterplan seemed to be taking shape when United led through a Patrice Evra thunderbolt, but the lead lasted less than a minute and Bayern added a further two in the next 15 minutes to kill off the tie. In the end United couldn’t deal with Bayern’s attack once the game became stretched and it’s Guardiola’s Bavarians that march on to the semi finals.
David Moyes made three changes from the XI that started the first leg 8 days ago. Chris Smalling and Patrice Evra came into the defence replacing Rio Ferdinand and Alex Buttner. Shinji Kagawa earned a start over Ryan Giggs after a string of impressive performances and the big news up front was that Wayne Rooney was fit to start following a pain killing injection. Pep fielded a very attacking lineup with Kroos, Muller, Gotze, Robben and Ribery in midfield behind lone striker Mario Mandzukic.
The game started as expected with Bayern dominating the possession and sweeping the ball from one side to another with effervescent ease. Robben was a constant threat down the right hand side and flashed an effort wide of DeGea’s goal early on. United were content to sit back and attempt to hit Bayern on the break and passed up a golden opportunity when a long ball over the top found Wayne Rooney. Rooney controlled the ball well and surged into the box but with Kagawa to his left dwelled on the ball and saw his effort blocked by Lahm. Antonio Valencia then had the ball in the back of Neur’s net only to see the linesman with his flag raised for offside. It was the correct call but an encouraging sign for the English champions. Much like in the first leg, for all Bayern’s dominance they created few clear cut chances and rarely tested DeGea in the opening 45 minutes.
United grew into the game in the opening stages of the first half with Kagawa testing Neur from long range. In the 57th minute Valencia broke down the right and crossed into the Bayern penalty area. The ball failed to find a teammate and broke to Patrice Evra on the edge of the area who unleashed an unstoppable drive into the top corner. A thunderous hit fit for the occasion and a precious away goal. The ecstasy was short lived however as just 22 seconds after the restart Bayern had equalised. Franck Ribery found Mandzukic who escaped the goal scorer Evra to head Bayern back to all square in the tie. Often sides are most vulnerable after conceding and United were caught cold. On the hour they had a great chance to reclaim the lead when Welbeck squared for Rooney in the box only for him to fluff his lines. Guardiola replaced Gotze with Rafinha, Phillip Lahm moving into his now familiar holding midfield role. For the first time in the tie the game was quite open and United were being stretched by Bayern’s attacks. Ribery was proving to be a real handful for Jones down the right and when his cross fell to Robben on the left, he picked out Thomas Muller who turned the ball into the net. Knowing his side needed another goal to progress, Moyes replaced Darren Fletcher with Javier Hernandez. However with 15 mins remaining, Robben broke down the right in a familiar but ominous attack. He cut onto his left foot and evaded Evra and Vidic, his shot deflecting off the United skipper and beyond the reach of DeGea. Three goals in a 15 minute frenzy killed United and put the tie to bed.
While United can take a lot of positives from their two performances against the reigning champions, they simply could not deal with Bayern once the game opened up. After Evra’s goal Bayern were afforded too much time and space and United’s compact and disciplined approach to defence slipped away. The speed of the equaliser was a killer blow and swung the momentum in Bayern’s favour while deflating the United players psychologically. They never settled after the goal and weren’t given an opportunity to recover by a ruthless Bayern side.
Bayern can now look forward to the semi final draw on Friday morning while David Moyes must pick his players up for the remaining Premier League fixtures. United are now facing a spell in the Champions League wilderness and will look to rebuild in the summer and next season regain their place at the top table of European football.