Manchester United produced a solid defensive display as they held European champions Bayern Munich to a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on Tuesday night.
A goal from Nemanja Vidic put the home side ahead in the second half, before Bastian Schweinsteiger grabbed a vital away goal for the German side. United were under sustained pressure for much of the game but were brilliant in restricting Bayern to very few clear cut opportunities and will take huge belief going into the second leg.
Rio Ferdinand was drafted in at centre back with Phil Jones moving to the right side of defence for the night, with Ryan Giggs, Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck all too brought in to start. Bayern rested key players at the weekend and made eight changes for the tie, with Thiago Alcantara the main absentee.
United would have felt hard done by within the first five minutes when a Welbeck goal was disallowed for a high foot. Welbeck flicked the ball to himself and thrashed a drive into Neuer’s near side only for a free kick to be given against him. While Welbeck was to rue the referee’s decision, Bayern were on their way to taking control of the fixture despite the early scare.
They couldn’t grab a first half goal, though. Bayern utterly dominated possession throughout the first half but a staunch United defence kept them at bay, despite one or two hairy moments. Phil Jones was excellent defensively even if wearing questionable footwear, making some key interceptions only to slip and endanger his side a little.
Bayern’s metronomic possession was in front of a tight defence for most of the half, though Arjen Robben tested David De Gea with a long range effort on the half hour mark.
United for extended periods were particularly under the kosh and unable to string any more than three passes together, but just before the break they had the best chance of the match through Welbeck. The English forward got to a through ball ahead of Jerome Boateng and found himself clean through, but with the huge presence of Manuel Neuer in front of him Welbeck opted a flick over the German no.1’s head, only for the attempt to go wrong and Neuer to easily palm the ball down to safety. On a night where chances were to be scarce for United, Welbeck blew the best one of the half.
The reigning European champions dominated the half but United stayed firm, and despite the missed chance David Moyes could be happy with what he’d seen from his side.
Shinji Kagawa replaced the injured Ryan Giggs at half time, and after the break the game evened out slightly. Bayern were still monopolising possession but United were gaining more of a command in the game.
While Bayern were still failing to create clear cut chances, valiant defending from players such as Rio Ferdinand kept the Germans at bay as they were restricted to shots from long range. But on the hour mark United were to raise the roof at Old Trafford with an opening goal.
A corner from Wayne Rooney found the unmarked captain Nemanja Vidic, who, while back pedalling managed to direct the ball towards the empty far post and into the net. United grabbed a priceless lead and had Bayern rattled for several minutes following.
The lead was not to last long though, as Bastian Schweinsteiger powered home an equaliser. Rafinha’s deep cross was headed down in the area by substitute Mario Mandzukic into the midfielder’s path, with the shot giving David De Gea no chance at all.
Arjen Robben had an attempt that whizzed just wide with twenty minutes left, but United were for the most part still doing a good job keeping Bayern at bay. The final ten minutes were filled with tension and Bastian Schweinsteiger was sent off late on for a second booking, but the home support did not stop all night.
Bayern weren’t to find a winner though, with the tie very much in the balance going into next week’s second leg.
Manchester United: De Gea; Jones, Ferdinand, Vidic, Buttner (Young 74); Carrick, Fellaini, Giggs (Kagawa 46); Valencia, Rooney, Welbeck (Hernandez 85).
Bayern Munich: Neuer; Rafinha, Boateng, Martinez, Alaba; Lahm; Robben, Schweinsteiger, Kroos (Gotze 74), Ribery; Muller (Mandzukic 63).