Manchester United will travel to Germany with their Champions League hopes still alive after holding the much-vaunted Bayern Munich 1-1 at Old Trafford in the first leg of the quarter-final.
United held off the reigning European champions with a battling defensive display before taking the lead through Nemanja Vidic’s excellent 58th minute header.
Bayern had failed to make their possession count, but Bastian Schweinsteiger’s lethal finish for the equaliser will see the German side be strong favourites to go through.
United will at least not have to face Schweinsteiger in the second leg – the Bayern skipper was sent off near the final whistle for a second booking after bringing down Wayne Rooney.
United fans could at least be grateful that this was not a home humiliation of the sort Liverpool and Manchester City have recently inflicted on David Moyes’ team, and which given their record this season looked a distinct threat by Bayern.
Danny Welbeck promised some early joy when he rammed home a fierce strike from the edge of the box, but the whistle had already gone for dangerous play for a high foot – much to United’s fury,
That was but a brief interlude, however, in the wave after wave of Bayern attacks, orchestrated by their wing wonders Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery.
Robben curved an effort a yard past the post, then saw another 20-yard strike tipped around the post by David de Gea. For all Bayern’s superiority, there was always the suspicion that Jerome Boateng was a vulnerable point of weakness to Welbeck’s pace.
Rooney played a through-ball, Boateng stumbled and Welbeck raced in on goal. Neuer advanced and read Welbeck’s mind as he attempted the chip, leaving Rooney livid and giving his team-mate a blast of his own hair dryer.
Moyes had put his faith in the wise old head of Ryan Giggs in his starting line-up, the last survivor of the famous 1999 final triumph over Bayern and playing in his 141st Champions League match, one short of Raul’s record.
But this old head was on old legs and after a mainly-forgettable first half for the 40-year-old, Moyes made a predictable change, bringing on Shinji Kagawa in his place.
Almost immediately, United looked more threatening, with Welbeck and Rooney having greater support in attack. A couple of good moves saw United force a corner, which Rooney delivered with perfect pace and accuracy for Vidic to guide a wonderful header into the corner in the 58th minute.
Pep Guardiola responded by sending on Mario Mandzukic for Thomas Muller, and the change paid dividends in the 66th minute as the Croatian striker headed back Rafinha’s cross for Schweinsteiger to finish emphatically into the top corner.