Manchester United vs. Bayern play-by-play
Not that Sir Alex Ferguson is convinced; he clearly fancies Rooney to net the away goal that would take some nerves out of the return encounter at Old Trafford. "He's had an unbelievable season," he said -- and the United boss is also smiling about having Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand back in the center of his back line: "Strong in the back and strong as a team, and we look very strong now."
Seems confident enough to me -- follow the game here live from 2:30 p.m. ET.
So, here we are then. Manchester United are in Munich to take on Bayern for a place in the Champions League semi-finals. Well, tonight they're just after an away goal and as much of a lead as they can manage to take back to Old Trafford. But after that comes the semifinals, against either Lyon or Bordeaux, who also meet today.
The team sheets are in, so I can tell you that the home side has gone for a solid looking 4-4-2 missing the injured Arjen Robben. Sir Alex, meanwhile, has opted to pack the midfield behind a solitary Wayne Rooney:
Bayern Munich: Hans Jorg Butt, Philipp Lahm, Daniel van Buyton, Martin Demichelis, Holger Badstuber, Hamit Altintop, Mark van Bommel, Danijel Pranjic, Franck Ribery, Thomas Mueller, Ivica Olic. Subs: Michael Rensing, Andreas Gorlitz, Miroslav Klose, Diego Contento, David Alaba, Mario Gomez, Anatoliy Tymoschuk.
Manchester United: Edwin van der Sar, Gary Neville, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Ji-Sung Park, Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, Nani, Wayne Rooney. Subs: Tomasz Kuszczak, Dimitar Berbatov, Ryan Giggs, Rafael Da Silva, Jonathan Evans, Antonio Valencia, Darren Gibson.
It's all eyes on the Allianz Arena later today, where Manchester United take on Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal. Ahead of the match, Bayern coach Louis van Gaal has, understandably, focused on the threat that Wayne Rooney poses, but insists his side is fearless, and has the quality to keep him quiet.
Kickoff: Manchester United, in white and blue, kick us off. Bayern is in its all red strip. The Allianz Arena, which is about as spectacular as they come, roars.
2': GOAL! Man United 1-0 Bayern. Within seconds of the kickoff, Demichelis swings a leg out at Nani and concedes a free kick by the corner flag. Nani takes it and it flicks up off the wall, dropping down right into Rooney's path for a simple side foot into the net. No one was anywhere near him!
4': What a start. Bayern will have to chase the equalizer, but that will only make the Germans more vulnerable to United attacks -- I fear my prediction of 2-0 might end up looking conservative.
6': There's nothing massively exciting happening as everyone recovers from that early goal -- United push onto the edge of Butt's penalty area, but Scholes skies a shot up towards Row Z.
9': Fed in by Lahm, Altintop drives towards goal on the right for Bayern, but he's quickly closed down. He looks keen to make his mark, but United are mopping things up in an ominously calm manner.
12': Nani plays Neville into the box, but the full back's attempt to play it into the center is poor. United nearly play themselves into trouble on the edge of their own area having initially hussled Olic off the ball ... and then concede a corner off the head of Vidic. Demichelis meets the inswinger with his head, but sends the ball looping up and over the bar.
16': Bayern has eased itself into things here, and Lahm looks a fruitful outlet on the right. He's jinked his way past Evra a couple of times, but so far his crosses have failed to get past the first man in white and blue. It's kept the crowd in good voice, though -- hang on a second, Rooney's just forced his way into the box with the ball ... United buzz around the area ... and Nani ends up putting a weak shot just wide.
18': Terrible, terrible tackle by Scholes on Altintop, studs into the top of the thigh -- but I think he avoided a yellow card, amazingly. Maybe it looked worse on the replay -- no, it's just a dreadful tackle.
20': Bayern hold onto the ball for a couple of minutes, but it fails to do much more with it than pass it around the middle of the pitch. Scholes crashes into Altintop again, but the referee gives Ribery the advantage and his shot catches a United foot on its way towards van der Sar ... but it's a comfortable save in the end.
22': Nani's cross bounces off the top of the crossbar, drawing a sharp intake of breath from several thousand Germans, but it bounces safely away from the inrushing Rooney.
25': Ribery teases a beautiful ball up and over the United defense, but Altintop's first touch, as it drops over his left shoulder, allows van der Sar to come and collect. Bayern certainly look capable of creating chances, and has probably matched United for clear-cut opportunities, if not for menace.
28': The battle between Rooney and Demichelis -- neither of whom is exactly lightweight -- is becoming increasingly physical, and Ribery and Neville are going at it, too. Ribery crafts another opening for Bayern, but Olic fails to stretch even his little toe to Altintop's ball. Mark van Bommel bombs through the middle of United unhindered, but the final ball is missing. The home side must surely take advantage of these chances soon.
32': Rooney tries a shot from just outside the area, but it barely stung the palms of Butt, and Bayern heads straight back up to the other end. Van der Sar ends up making an easy catch, but he'll be bemused by the number of balls being slung into his area in the last few minutes. Evra and Neville are both making difficult work of keeping red shirts at bay.
35': Pranjic launches an effort from a good 30 yards out, and despite generating a bit of swerve, sees it nestle into van der Sar's chest. If United weren't already one up, they'd be pretty worried by the last 10 minutes. Bayern's midfield, supported by the excellent Lahm, in particular, are overrunning United in midfield.
39': Rooney takes a tumble in the area, a triple pike that gets 7/10 for effort -- even he didn't look like he bought it. At the other end, the referee rescues Neville by awarding a free kick against Olic, who looked to have done nothing more sinister than get his head to the ball first. Just as I go to post that, Rooney's kept out by the feet of Butt, who storms out of his goal to make the save. Cliché check #1: "It's end to end stuff."
42': Badstuber swings in a free kick from the right, but Neville gets enough of his fringe on it to see it away from danger. Rooney tees up Park, who lays it off for Carrick on the edge of the D, but it's blocked by one of the three Bayern defenders making haste towards him.
45': Badstuber goes in on Nani, studs into the top of his lilac-booted foot, and Carrick gets on the end of the floated free kick but forces nothing more than a routine save from Butt. We've got one added minute.
Halftime: Has it really been 45 minutes already? I've barely remembered to breathe, it's been so absorbing. Are United a bit lucky to go in a goal up? Maybe, but Bayern need to capitalize on the chances its creating. A quick break and cup of tea, and I'll be back for the second half.
47': Bayern kick off the second half, Ribery plays Olic in on the left with a superb reverse pass, but van der Sar gets his gloves to it. Altintop and van Buyton have shots stopped before things fizzle out with a free kick awarded to Neville. Great start from the home side; they have to assert themselves in the opening moments.
51': Oof, Mueller takes a shot from 30 yards out that pings off the inside of Vidic's calf -- van der Sar has to shift his weight to cover it, but the ball skims wide in any case.
54': It's incredible that Bayern haven't scored, and that United have. The home side must have been on top for a good half hour now.
57': Altintop blasts the ball at van der Sar, who can only parry, but Ferdinand swipes the ball away from Olic's outstretched toe... then van Bommel strolls up the pitch with the ball looking menacing, only to send in a relatively tame shot from distance.
60': Ribery executes the build-up of the match, driving towards the goaline and skipping past Neville into the box, only to be halted by Nani. There really is nothing to tell as far as United are concerned, at the moment. They are chasing possession about 90% of the time.
63': Very little to report at the moment, unless -- no, Nani falling over stopped being newsworthy about three years ago, didn't it?
66': At last, a half chance for United: Park pings it up to Rooney, who opts not to take three defenders on alone, and finds Fletcher on the left. He attempts to float a cross back into Rooney, now lingering on the edge of the box, but it's too close to Butt. Berbatov is warming up, ladies and gents.
69': Pranjic tries a shot from an unlikely distance which is deflected just over the crossbar, then Park tries to feed Rooney from almost the exact spot that Fletcher did a few moments ago. This time it's headed clear by a defender. This is a Champions League quarterfinal, right? Aren't these supposed to be cagey affairs?
72': Olic comes this close -- this close -- to beating van der Sar at his near post! Mueller will dine out on the backheel that set him up for a good few weeks.
Substitutions: Valencia on for Carrick, Berbatov on for Park.
75': GOAL! Bayern 1-1 Man United. Neville concedes a freekick just outside the area for a blatant deliberate handball, and Ribery's low effort deflects up off the bottom of the wall (Rooney's shin, to be precise) and past van der Sar, who barely moves. Bayern absolutely deserve to be level.
Substitution: Mueller off, the expensive Gomez on.
80': The game hasn't really settled down since Ribery's goal. Scholes sends a peach of a ball onto Rooney's toes, but his usual deft touch deserts him. We're told Bayern have had 60% possession in this game, which is just incredible.
ps. Precision fans should know it was actually Rooney's studs, I've checked. (see last update.)
84': Crikey! Vidic smashes a header against the crossbar from Giggs' -- who'd just replaced Nani -- corner.
86': Bayern is enjoying possession in the areas of the pitch that count, but is struggling for that killer final ball again. Altintop gives way to Miroslav Klose, who has about four minutes plus stoppage time to make his mark.
88': A predictable yellow card for Rooney, whose frustration at Bayern's domination of possession doesn't excuse a nasty swipe at Pranjic, who hobbles off to be replaced by Tymoschuk. Every time you think this game might start to fizzle out, somebody gets up a head of steam ... but neither Gomez nor Klose can reach Lahm's superb cross.
92': GOAL! Bayern 2-1 Man United. Olic darts his way free of United's close attention in the penalty area and slots the ball past van der Sar, who had not long ago made a desperate save from Gomez. I'd just been typing how unlucky Bayern would feel to head to Old Trafford without a lead, and that happened.
Final whistle: Bayern 2-1 Man United. Bayern's players are sharing 2 am disco hugs, and they thoroughly deserve that win. With players like Robben and Schweinsteiger missing, it was hard to envisage a difficult time for United here, but they've been well and truly outplayed. Ferguson picked a defensive five-man midfield, but Bayern made light work of bypassing them for long periods. The second leg, which is coming on April 7, looks very tasty.