Manchester United bowed out of the Champions League despite a gutsy performance at the Allianz Arena. United travelled to Germany after a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in the first leg, but holders Bayern Munich started the game as overwhelming favorites. Despite the fact that they lost in the league for the first time in over 50 games, the Bundesliga giants were looking to become the first side to retain their Champions League crown, and United manager David Moyes knew victory was going to be a tough ask.
But, somewhat surprisingly, neither side managed to settle into an effective rhythm in the first half, and United had a goal ruled out for offside early on. The tone was set and Bayern were looking content to earn a 0-0 draw – a result that would have sent them through on away goals, whilst United were looking to find an away goal on the counter.
However, the second half was nothing like the drab affair in the first half, and within 12 minutes United had taken a surprise lead. The Red Devils started the half in adventurous fashion and were rewarded when left back Patrice Evra scored his first Champions League goal in seven years.
Antonio Valencia’s cross from the right avoided all of the obvious candidates, but the ball broke to Evra on the edge of the area and the Frenchman struck first time with a sweetly hit shot into the top corner that Manuel Neuer had no chance with.
Scenes of absolute elation met the goal as United players, fans and management celebrated taking the lead. The players ran to the bench and were congratulated by Moyes before the Scot handed out some instructions.
The orders seemed to go over the heads of his players though as Bayern leveled less than a minute later. Franck Ribery’s cross was met by Mario Mandzukic – who had been kept quiet up to that point – and the header sent the ball beyond David de Gea into the back of the net.
It was a disappointing moment for United and summed up their season. They are out of luck and less able to hold on to their leads this season than they have been for years. But it was a clear case of switching off from the United players as they were still calming down after taking the lead. It was a bitter blow for United and one that should really have been avoided.
And it wasn’t long before they were behind on the night and – for the first time – in the tie. Arjen Robben’s ball in from the right was turned in by Thomas Muller – with the help of a ricochet. And nobody could argue with the scoreline – even if United could have had another before then.
And Arjen Robben wrapped it up and knocked United out just as he did in 2010. The Dutchman sprinted away from Evra before Nemanja Vidic deflected his effort beyond De Gea for 3-1.
The aggregate scoreline of 4-2 was justified and too difficult to overturn for United. And it could mean a long road back into the competition for the Manchester giants. Winning the Champions League this season was their only hope of playing in the competition next season, and even qualification for the Europa League may not be enough to attract the top quality players United are used to having.
They have swapped places with Liverpool domestically, and could be set to face an exile from Europe’s elite tournament just as their Merseyside rivals did.