Ragged Reds munched in Munich

Ribery 77, Olic 90

Rooney 2

The ghost of the Nou camp returned to haunt Manchester United on a night both they, and Wayne Rooney will limp away from the Allianz Arena.

Rooney’s early goal was the only bright spot on a disappointing night for the Premier League champions, as an injury time Ivica Olic goal means they will be required to overturn a 2-1 deficit at Old Trafford in eight days time. In his post-match post mortem, Sir Alex Ferguson suggested United’s second-minute goal had come too early, his side were keen to retreat and allow Bayern possession, who, even without a number of first-team regulars, were well worthy of the result. With Chelsea game coming up in just four days, there is little time for the Red Devils to convalesce, which is probably just as well given the nature of their performance. Many aspects of their play was similar to the first-leg versus Milan, when sloppy midfield play passed the baton to their hosts to make inroads. Where the Rossoneri passed up goal-scoring opportunities and slept at the back, the German giants grew with confidence and composure as the game wore on, with United unable to either stifle or counter-attack to good effect.

Despite Nemanja Vidic hitting the bar late on (a chance which would have put the reds 2-1 up) they can have few complaints about the result in a game they were second best in most areas. The worry for United is that Bayern, fully replenished for the return, will pose considerable threat on the break with Franck Ribery and the razor-sharp Arjen Robben operating in tandem. Of more of a worry, is whether Rooney will be able to pose his unique threat. An adequate summary of United’s display last night could have been given from Rooney’s crestfallen position on the Allianz turf during stoppage time. After twisting his ankle, Rooney watched on as Mark Van Bommel burst past the heavy-legged challenges of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, rode a half challenge from Vidic, before Patrice Evra dosed on the loose ball. It was a weak goal which epitomised the lack of focus and purpose in United’s play, as they succumbed to their first away defeat in 18 outings.

As Rooney pulled himself up and hobbled off to exasperate United’s problems, Ferguson will tonight ponder the previously apocalyptic notion of how he will cope without his star man. 34 goals this season, 19 of those in his last 15 appearances only paints half of the picture. The level of his performances have consistently lifted United from slumbers, and nobody can replicate the goal-threat Rooney now possesses. The fact that own goals are the team’s joint second top-scorer speaks volumes on their reliance on Rooney for inspiration. The Reds must now contemplate going into a seismic ten day period without any of last season’s attacking triumvirate of Rooney, Tevez and Ronaldo. That’s a lot of goals to replace, with not a lot of options to get them. Sir Alex must hope that Rooney, and his team get well soon after this beating in Bavaria.

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