Thursday, April 8, 2010

Robben stunner ends United interest!!!

A wonder-goal by Arjen Robben ended 10-man Manchester United's involvement in the Champions League as Bayern Munich lost 3-2 at Old Trafford but went through on the away goals rule.

Wayne Rooney made a dramatic yet curtailed return to action but he could not prevent United exiting the competition after Robben's stunning volley on 74 minutes pulled the Bundesliga side level at 4-4 on aggregate - and sent them into the semi-finals thanks to their extra away goal.
Darron Gibson had given United the perfect start after just three minutes and when Nani struck twice more to put United into a 3-0 lead with 41 minutes on the clock, the Premier League champions appeared well set to overturn a 2-1 deficit from the first leg.
But Ivica Olic got Bayern back into the tie just before the break and the German side were able to take full advantage of Rafael Da Silva's dismissal for a second booking on 50 minutes, with former Chelsea player Robben delivering the telling blow with 16 minutes remaining.
It is the first time an English club has not made the final four of the competition for seven years and the result leaves United with just the Premier League title left to play for this season.
United were handed a massive boost prior to kick-off with the news that Rooney had made a miraculous recovery from the ankle injury that only seven days previously had ruled him out for "two to three weeks".
Even Alex Ferguson had gone on record to say the striker had "no chance" of playing earlier in the week, but such are the England international's apparently remarkable powers of recovery he took to the field at an electric Old Trafford.
He was only to last 55 minutes, a knock to his troublesome ankle on 20 minutes eventually putting paid to his evening, but his dramatic appearance on the pitch had at least lifted United from the malaise which had descended for the weekend's defeat to Chelsea in the Premier League.
Rooney's inclusion was one of four changes made to the team which lost the first leg with Rafael and Michael Carrick returning to the side having sat out the game in Germany.
Ferguson handed a rare start to Gibson and his bold selection policy was rewarded immediately as the young Irishman opened the scoring after just three minutes with one of his now trademark long-range efforts. Almost inevitably, it was Rooney who set him on his way towards goal with a neat lay-off.
United had taken a similarly early lead at the Allianz Arena last week, but then they failed to capitalise on their advantage and allowed Bayern back into the game.
With that disappointment fresh in the hosts' minds, they refused to take their foot off the accelerator and instead went for Bayern's jugular. They found it just four minutes later as Nani scored with a sublime flick - not dissimilar to Joe Cole's goal for Chelsea at the other end of the ground on Saturday - after Antonio Valencia had teased Holger Badstuber on the right wing.
Rooney sent a header over the bar as United - unrecognisable to the team which succumbed to Chelsea at the weekend - continued to apply the pressure on Bayern.
Rafael should have made that pressure count further on 34 minutes when he ran through on goal virtually unchallenged. But the Brazilian appeared to suffer a bout of nerves and he sent the ball wide of the post with Rooney screaming for it in the middle.
Fortunately for home side, Nani was not so profligate on 41 minutes as United extended their lead on the night to three goals, the Portuguese blasting into the roof of the net after yet more good work by Valencia to beat this time beat Martin Demichelis.
Nani's second made it 4-2 on aggregate and United appeared to be cruising towards the semi-finals - until a defensive lapse lead to Olic pulling one back on 41 minutes - and got Bayern right back into the game.
The Croat, who had earlier been denied by a diving van der Sar at his feet, did get on the scoresheet when he finished from tight angle after having shrugging off Carrick's weak challenge as he ran onto Thomas Mueller's head on.
The goal breathed new life into Bayern and Robben signalled their intent with a shot that had van der Sar at full stretch just before half-time.
If the pattern of the game had not already turned, it certainly did five minutes after the restart when Rafael received his marching orders for a tug on the breaking Franck Ribery - his second bookable offence.
From being in a comfortable position, United suddenly found themselves with their backs to the wall, down to 10 men and without their departed talisman Rooney.
Yet United still managed to fashion a number of goalscoring opportunities and Nani would have struck a hat-trick had his 55th-minute volley not gone over the bar or had Hans-Joerg Butt not got a big hand to his effort when he was played through on goal eight minutes later.
Darron Gibson also brought a save out of Butt with a side-footer from the edge of the box but with Bayern enjoying more possession, they posed a real threat when going forward.
Ribery fired a volley on target before Robben delivered a hammer blow with 16 minutes remaining, his stunning volley from a corner nestling in the corner of van der Sar's goal.
Ferguson sent on Berbatov in a bid to grab a late goal that would have seen his side through, but with a man less and Bayern keeping possession expertly, United failed to seriously threaten the visitors' goal again.
Ribery could even have rubbed salt into United's wounds as time ran out, but his shot wide of the post mattered not as Bayern became the first German club to reach the semi-finals since 2002 and in doing so ensure that English teams dominance of the latter stages of the competition came to an end.

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