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Friday 22 August 2014

Manchester United scare Bayern briefly but champions prevail

Paul Hirst

Published 09/04/2014 | 21:51

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Bayern Munich's Thomas Mueller (C) celebrates with team mates after scoring a goal against Manchester United during their Champions League quarter-final second leg soccer match in Munich, April 9, 2014.              REUTERS/Michaela Rehle (GERMANY  - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)
Bayern Munich's Thomas Mueller (C) celebrates with team mates after scoring a goal against Manchester United during their Champions League quarter-final second leg soccer match in Munich, April 9, 2014. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle
Bayern Munich's coach Pep Guardiola celebrates with Thomas Mueller after he scored during their Champions League quarter-final second leg soccer match against Manchester United in Munich, April 9, 2014.         REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach (GERMANY  - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)
Bayern Munich's coach Pep Guardiola celebrates with Thomas Mueller after he scored during their Champions League quarter-final second leg soccer match against Manchester United in Munich, April 9, 2014. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
Bayern Munich's Thomas Mueller challenges Manchester United's Nemanja Vidic (R) during their Champions League quarter-final second leg soccer match in Munich, April 9, 2014.               REUTERS/Michaela Rehle (GERMANY  - Tags: SPORT SOCCER TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Bayern Munich's Thomas Mueller challenges Manchester United's Nemanja Vidic (R) during their Champions League quarter-final second leg soccer match in Munich, April 9, 2014. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

Manchester United failed to reproduce their comeback heroics of 1999 as they crashed out of the Champions League despite a spirited effort at the Allianz Arena.

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United fans started dreaming of another Champions League triumph against the Germans when Patrice Evra put the visitors 1-0 up on the night, but the lead lasted just 22 seconds as Bayern claimed a reasonably comfortable win.

The Germans dominated possession for most of the evening and ran out 3-1 winners on the night thanks to goals from Mario Mandzukic, Thomas Muller and the superb Arjen Robben.

David Moyes' men spent nearly all the first period in their own half as Bayern launched wave after wave of attack.

It would have been so different had Wayne Rooney - playing with a pain-killing injection in his toe - not fluffed two easy chances.

Evra's sweet half-volley led to raucous celebrations from the United bench, but slack defending allowed Mandzukic to score and it was the same story moments later when Muller beat David de Gea after gaining a yard on Nemanja Vidic.

Then Robben, a constant thorn in Bayern's side, got the goal he deserved, beating Evra and Vidic for pace before planting the ball into the corner.

Moyes' game plan, as predicted by opposite number Pep Guardiola, of trying to contain Bayern and hit them on the attack, worked for the best part of an hour thanks to some solid defending.

But in the end Bayern's class was too much. The fact that the German side could field such a stellar line-up when two of their most prominent players - Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez - were suspended shows how big a gulf remains between these two sides.

It also reinforces just how much Moyes needs to spend to turn his team into world-beaters who belong in the European elite, rather than plucky battlers.

They will not be able to take on the likes of Bayern again next year. This was the last realistic chance they had to qualify for the Champions League and the valiant performance in Bavaria will not put a gloss on what has been a dour season under Moyes.

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