Pep: United 'one of the best teams in the world'

The FCB boss hailed David Moyes’ men after a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final

Pep Guardiola hailed Manchester United as “one of the best teams in the world” after watching his all-conquering Bayern Munich side struggle to break the Premier League titleholders down at Old Trafford on Tuesday night.

The reigning European champions went into the tie as overwhelming favourites yet found themselves in a spot of bother when Nemanja Vidic headed the hosts into a 58-minute lead.

United’s advantage lasted a mere nine minutes before Bastian Schweinsteiger levelled with a crisp half-volley although his night ended in disappointment after he picked up a second yellow card for a trip on Wayne Rooney.

Guardiola cut a spiky figure in his post-match interviews but insisted he was happy with the 1-1 draw.

He told Sky: “I am pretty satisfied. Man United is one of the best teams in the world.

“We have scored an away goal which is important, but we also got lucky that the efforts from (Danny) Welbeck and Rooney didn’t go in.

“The goal we conceded was difficult to defend. It’s never easy to play against a team which defends so deeply. We will see if we can find some solutions for the match in Munich.

“It’s always dangerous when you go into the second leg with a 1-1 draw, but even a 2-1 victory would have been dangerous for us. We will try to win the second leg and I am sure we can do it.

“I have full confidence in my players and hope the fans in Munich will push us like the United supporters did for their team today.”

Bayern enjoyed 70 per cent possession but struggled to find a way past a well-marshalled United rearguard.

Midfielder Toni Kroos said: “It was a difficult match. We dominated the whole time, as expected, but United fought very well. They defended with almost everybody and conceded very few chances.

“Nevertheless they were sometimes dangerous on the break. We knew that they would play like this.

“We deserved the equaliser. We tried everything but we could not create as many chances as we are used to. The result is okay, we still have all the options for the second leg.

“It was disrespectful to talk about a walkover beforehand, it is still a Champions League quarter-final.”

Vintage Vidic helps Man Utd answer Moyes rallying cry

The Serb delivered a fine performance to keep the Old Trafford outfit in the tie against Pep Guardiola’s side, with David Moyes’ men holding out for a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford

By Jonathan Birchall at Old Trafford

The improbable dream lives on at Old Trafford. Manchester United simply will not leave Europe without a fight. 

These underdogs were dogged against Bayern Munich. David Moyes’ side faced the best team on the continent and will live to fight another day in Bavaria next Wednesday. 

A 1-1 draw at home at this stage of the Champions League would, in normal circumstances, be disappointing. But Pep Guardiola’s side are anything but ordinary, and after spells of dominance that were at times nothing short of spectacular, the German champions will know they still hold the upper hand, but it won’t come easy.  

For Moyes, who has at times let his heart rule his head during his time at Old Trafford, there is much to be taken from this draw built on a foundation as formidable as the roar from the Stretford End that greeted the sides earlier this evening. He called for heroes and they arrived. The Scot had a plan and it worked, so nearly to perfection. 

That United took the lead through Nemanja Vidic was fitting. The Serb, who has kept the captain’s armband at Old Trafford despite already committing his future to Inter come the end of the season, was sensational. 

Having been peppered with balls from the Bayern midfielders, namely Franck Ribery on the left flank, the United skipper met it all. For over an hour they simply would not pass. Bastian Schweinsteiger’s equaliser, a stunning half volley from Mario Mandzukic’s knock down, was simply this German force of nature taking its course. 

United will, and arguably have, missed this Vidic. The legs are a little creakier these days but there remains a phenomenal defender. Playing alongside Rio Ferdinand, the man with whom he has spent so many of these nights before, he rolled back the years. Few come close when he is this good.

But there were other, more unlikely heroes. 

Alexander Buttner, signed from Vitesse last summer as a virtual unknown who has largely remained such since arriving at the Theatre of Dreams, spoke of looking forward to coming up against his compatriot Arjen Robben before the match. United fans may not have shared his optimism then but will look at him a little differently now. He held his own. They all held their own. 

The word brave has been too liberally pinned to Premier League sides who, when it comes to it, have failed in this competition this season. United must be at their best to ensure they do not become another.  

What remains for United is hope. Javi Martinez will miss the second leg after picking up a yellow card for a cynical late foul on Javier Hernandez. Schweinsteiger too, will watch from the Allianz Arena stands after being sent off after receiving two bookings. Every little helps against this Bayern side, after all. 

United will, like they did at Old Trafford this evening, take what they can get. 

As for Vidic, this may well prove to be his final Champions League bow at the Theatre of Dreams, but he looks hell bent on ensuring it isn’t. He won’t stop or give in.

United improbably fight on. 

Robben: Bayern not bothered by Man Utd draw

The Bavarians were held at Old Trafford but the winger insisted that the Red Devils were never going to be easy pickings, despite their poor form in the Premier League

Arjen Robben insists Bayern Munich are happy with a 1-1 draw from the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Manchester United.

Nemanja Vidic opened the scoring just before the hour mark at Old Trafford but Bastian Schweinsteiger volleyed home soon after to secure the visitors a precious away goal, though the midfielder was subsequently sent off, thus ruling him out of next week’s second leg in Bavaria.

Bayern had only failed to win two of their previous 2014 competitive clashes going into the game but Robben is not concerned that the team failed to sweep aside the Red Devils, who are currently seventh in the Premier League.

“In the end, we can be satisfied with the 1-1,” the Dutchman told NOS. “At least it’s better then 0-0. We scored an away goal, so that’s a positive thing.

“I didn’t like it that people from outside underestimated United. The media were talking about them as though they would be easy to beat. I mean, after all you’re playing against United at Old Trafford.

“Of course they’re struggling in the Premier League, but that doesn’t count on an evening like this. I expect a same kind of match next week.

“We have to move the ball quickly and find the space. We didn’t create many major chances, but we’re satisfied with 1-1. Next week we have to give it our best again.”

Pep Guardiola’s helped guide Bayern to a second consecutive Bundesliga title already this season and, with the DFB-Pokal and Champions League still in the club’s sights, Robben hailed the coach’s impact since arriving last summer.

“It’s great privilege to have him with us, he has great influence on our work,” the winger added to Mediaset Premium. “He’s giving us decisive assistance for the conquest of trophies.”

Man Utd will hope to replicate or better Tuesday’s result when they travel to the Allianz Arena for the return leg next Wednesday in a bid to reach the last four of the European competition.

Passing it on the goal-line: Guardiola must learn his lesson after risking Man Utd humiliation

The Bavarians played out a dour 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in a match characterised by the away side’s reluctance to mix up their play with crosses and direct passes

By Enis Koylu

When the Champions League quarter-finals were drawn, the standout tie was undoubtedly Bayern Munich’s clash with Manchester United. One side was staggering from crisis to crisis – from disheartening defeat to disheartening defeat – the other on the verge of wrapping up the domestic title in record time.

Yet, with the first leg at Old Trafford completed, the two teams stand at eye level – the Bavarians needing Bastian Schweinsteiger to cancel out Nemanja Vidic’s second half opener.

Sure, David Moyes’ men produced a spirited performance to frustrate the European champions, defending stoically and attacking with intent, but Pep Guardiola’s men have no one to blame but themselves after an underpar display.

The first half began in customary fashion. Bayern have often been slow starters this season, taking time to get into games before killing off their opponents, but as time wore on they began to take control, stroking the ball about in the United half with noticeable ease.

Except that’s just about all they did before the break. Bayern bossed possession, having control of the ball for 78% of the opening period, but did precious little with their dominance. Indeed, the best chance before half-time fell to the hosts, but Danny Welbeck fluffed his lines when clean through.

For all of their territorial domination, the closest the Bavarians came to breaking the deadlock was a rare long-range punt from Arjen Robben, which had David de Gea scrambling across his goalline. It was their only shot on target.

German Efficiency? | Slack marking sees Vidic head United in front

The second half began in much the same fashion, except this time, United inflicted some damage. A corner was whipped in from the left wing and Vidic beat his man to arch a header into the net.

The goal sparked Bayern into life. Guardiola reacted immediately, introducing the more direct Mario Mandzukic and the Croat’s influence was almost immediate as he produced a great knock down for Bastian Schweinsteiger to equalise. Upset averted.

But the Old Trafford encounter leaves you wondering whether Bayern are right in pursuing a slow, patient passing game. They produced precious little bite prior to falling behind and their insistence on playing the ball out of defence saw them exposed on more than one occasion.

Against better opposition, they would have been punished more severely and had United not been in a dreadful run of form, they could be staring at Champions League elimination.

As it stands, they will still probably progress to the next round, even without suspended duo Javi Martinez and Schweinsteiger, and should have more than enough to see off a shoddy United team.

But they could be home and hosed already. Bayern have been accused of wasting possession from all quarters this season. In the wake of the 1-1 draw with Arsenal in the last round, Franz Beckenbauer claimed that the Bavarians would become “unwatchable like Barcelona” and would be “passing it backwards on the goal-line.”

After the first-leg of the last-16 clash, where Bayern saw off the 10-man Gunners 2-0, Arsene Wenger was adamant that the team he had faced at the same stage last year was better, arguing “even though we were playing with 10 players, they didn’t really create an awful lot.”

Guardiola’s final season at Barcelona ended with failure in both the Champions League and La Liga thanks to what then Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho dubbed “sterile possession”. Tuesday night’s slack showing in Manchester must serve as a gentle lesson that he must rein back this approach to avoid falling short with the German champions.

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Manchester United 1-1 Bayern Munich: Schweinsteiger hands holders the advantage despite late dismissal

Bastian Schweinsteiger scored a vital away goal as Bayern Munich drew 1-1 with Manchester United at Old Trafford on Tuesday night, and was later sent off.

Nemanja Vidic opened the scoring with a brilliant second-half header but United’s shock lead lasted just eight minutes, with Schweinsteiger’s crisp volley soon levelling proceedings.

The Germany international would not finish the game, however, as he shown a second yellow card late on after a rash challenge on Wayne Rooney.

He will, therefore, miss the second leg on April 9, along with his defensive team-mate Javi Martinez, who picked up a booking of his own for a cynical foul on Javier Hernandez.

More to follow…